I take back everything I said belittling the anime adaptation upon finishing the episode.
This is truly something that can stand on it’s own.
Following the attack by her sister ships, Iona finds that she cannot repair herself, a product of a virus uploaded to quite a bit of her nanomaterials when she was hit by the twin lances by I-400 and I-402. On the surface, Takao and Hyuuga start arguing after not seeing I-401 at the rendezvous point, only for Haruna to snap their minds back into the game. In the JTN, Kongou berates the twin submarines for attacking Iona without her permission, but they turn the tables on her and merely state they are also watching her, seeing if she were to turn as well. Leaving, they tell her to return to her schedule patrol.
Meanwhile, Takao and Hyuuga finished searching Iona’s last known position. Finding nothing, and deducing what had happened, Takao attempts to submerged, only to be stopped by Hyuuga. She explains that she can only live up to her praises and adoration of Iona by completing her mission, which is to safely deliver the Vibration Warhead Torpedo to the United States, not to blindly submerged to what can amount to be a trap.
Jumping back to Iona and Gunzou, we see things get more and more dire. After purging all affected blocks, Iona sinks to the bottom, and Gunzou, already injured in the attack, he recounts how they first met, and how they were originally just the two of them. Now they have a large group. The habitable area getting colder, Gunzou suffering from his injuries and hypothermia, he urges Iona to live on, and in his last conscious act, tells her to kill the life-support systems before passing out.
Iona though, does not do a thing. While had she been her ‘old’ self, she would’ve but she acknowledges that she has changed. She has grown to love Gunzou, and does not want to be alone.
Takao, having appropriated Hyuuga’s mechanical arms/egg carrier to use as a deep-submergence vessel, eventually comes across Iona’s conning tower. Next to it, is a life pod, containing the last of Iona’s usable nanomaterials, Gunzou safely inside, Iona’s core jewel next to him. Seeing that there is truly no place for her. Jumping out, she holds the pod close, as she reforms Iona using her own body. Takao is gone, only for a newly rebuilt and ‘modernized’ Iona to break the surface alongside the crew and their cargo.
Back at Kongou, the two other subs report back at the new development. When Kongou attempts to continue on her attack, she is locked out, I-400 and I-402 explaining that she herself has already deviated from the Admiralty Code by obsessing over Iona. It is then revealed that Maya had no Mental Model, but rather a puppet through which they watched over Kongou. Leaving her alone, Kongou seems to have come across an epiphany.
That she is truly alone.
The biggest shocker here would be Kongou’s ‘epiphany’ in the end. The uncovering that her loyal subordinate Maya was nothing more than a CCTV Puppet for the two shadowy-intelligence/Gestapo-like in function and form I-400 and I-402. Maya being a broken doll by the end hammered in that point, and Kongou’s realization of her own deviation from the code making her actions in the previous episodes all that more ironic. Or rather, bittersweet. In pursuit of eradicating a threat to her own existence as a weapon to abide by the Admiralty Code, she herself became such a threat. Locked away and stripped of her command, she can only watch in helplessness as Maya dances about in her broken state, surrounded by the physical agents of the Code she revered.
That cold abandonment by the very cause you swore every pixel of your being into upholding.
As for this episode, there is truly no such thing more frightening in the series than the uncaring, emotionless dolls that is I-400 and I-402. Not even as they sink their sister did they flinch in their cold, clinical ways. In contrast to the obsessive Kongou, they are something you would not want to be in the same seas with. The most literal sense of a tool. Something that does what it is told. No emotion. Nothing. And simply a great set of villains. There is no way to reason with it. Kongou is a great villain due to us, the audience, able to see her slide to madness. But for me, the twins are great because they are the unmovable object in a world where nothing is right anymore.
As for Iona, her change is much more subtle. No doubt due to being part of the I-400 class subs. She has been with Gunzou for a few years now, and her actions as Gunzou started to die on the bottom of the sea floor reminded me much like a dog trying to get her dying master to respond. In contrast to her doll-like sisters, this doll had obtained a soul. Seeing her look up ways to combat hypothermia was touching, and even more so her realization in the end that she was going to be alone, and her happiness when Gunzou was still alive. It isn’t a flash of lightning moment, but it was gradual, hinted through the series, and she only came to this after someone who (I felt) she was so used to and taking advantage of (in some weird way) is close to being lost forever. It opened something within her. No doubt my own personal situation, a loved one of mine not being in such a good state, added to the emotional impact.
Takao’s realization too, as well as Hyuugas, that they are merely second string to the bond Iona and Gunzou shared was seemingly fitting. Takao’s action of self-sacrifice to me, felt so much more better than her current fate in the manga. Again, touching the theme that together through Gunzou, they not only have humans to help them gain a leg up over their opponents, but also compared to Kongou’s miserable loneliness (for she is truly an island in the middle of a vast, unforgiving ocean), well it touched the feels in me. And no doubt for many others as well.
I applaud in the writers going this route, and I can honestly say, without any reservation, that I enjoy this show. The manga is great, yes, and I’ve long since broken my vow on not comparing it, but this episode, and it’s feels trip, made me realize that for their constraints, this was honestly what will make me want to rewatch the series and pray for a second season with a hopefully greater cast.
And because of it, I thought this song was fitting.
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