We’re on the penultimate episode of the series, and I feel as though we could’ve covered more. We definitely could’ve covered more of Asuka coping with life on the ‘outside’. Kurumi as she coped with being separated from her unrequited love. How Tamara and Mia are handling the stresses of their duties.
A lot more could’ve been done.
Also, concerning the preview image: HADO HO HASSHA!
The Battle of Naha Air Base (and of Naha itself) is winding down. Asuka and Kurumi are fighting their own battles against equally matched opponents. Kurumi is really at a disadvantage here, her training in the bog-standard JSDF combatives course is no match to one who has been doing it her entire life. Chisato is able to match blow by tackle to hit, and to toss Kurumi around like a sack of rice.
Kurumi manages to win her fight only by tapping in the darkness that lurks just underneath the surface of her psyche, the torment she went through triggered by Chisato’s boasting. In a desperate move, Kurumi manages to toss Chisato to her back and inject her with a drug that incapacitated her. Barely winning over the now drugged illegal magical girl, she destroys the barrier to allow her to come to Asuka’s aid.
Asuka though has more than met her match, Giess having been built from the get go to counter every move Asuka makes. A close quarters combatant, he was left alone to face Asuka when the penguin faerie leaves him with their objective. Deep down he probably knew he was a patsy to the Babel Brigade’s overall schemes. So sure though of their victory that even when defeated he was able to use his dying words to explain their victory. In his dying breaths, Giess gave some insight to his life and motivations to Asuka, and to tell Chisato the truth.
That I think was what hurt the most in the whole episode. Not that slight twinge of fear that Kurumi wouldn’t make it, or that Mia, Nozomi, and Sayako would be eaten. It was the fact that all the suffering that Chisato went through was all because she had been selected to be a magical girl by the Babel brigade. Everything was orchestrated, from her mother’s death and losing her leg, to coming to her at her lowest to offer an out. Those she cared about were dead, her old life was gone. For all the world knows, the end of this tragic episode was a murder-suicide of a destitute father and his disabled child.
It wasn’t an apology per say, Giess knew what he was doing when he dropped that truth bomb on her. Not that he would be making a new enemy for the Brigade, not that he was finally coming clean with her. I felt that Giess telling Chisato to ‘be happy’ was the cruelest thing he has ever done in the whole series. This includes killing his parents and raping his sister. There is no more happiness with Chisato. Her life destroyed twice by the Babel brigade, and no doubt for a third time if she joins M Squad to exact her revenge.
Because what can be given could be taken away. I would personally ensure she’s not been coopted in some form. Her leg would be dismantled and magical artifact investigated. But that’s just me. I can feel for Chisato. She’s had a crap life, her life before wasn’t peaches and cream but she had someone to cling onto and an identity to herself. Only for it to be ruined because of her magical affinity.
If you ask me, I’m pretty sure Giess was also chosen the same way. The Babel Brigade has much tentacles all over the world in the criminal underworld and no doubt in corrupt governments. It doesn’t take much to financially support a Somali warlord. And to order him/her to ensure living hell on a particular child but letting him live.
Then when he is at his lowest point, offer him an out. It breeds loyalty, and the Babel Brigade gains a child with high magical affinity to place in a hulking suit of magic-technical powered exoskeleton.
Asuka winning her fight was a bit of a surprise as well. Against the tank that was Giess’ Hulkbuster-like body, she barely held on, even sacrificing her arm in the process to allow her to strike at his weak spot. Had it not been for Iizuka’s timely intervention with the magical tomahawk she’d probably had died.
I know some might think this was a deus ex machina too far, and I’m sorta inclined to agree. Though knowing the premise of a ‘fair fight is one you lost’, it doesn’t surprise me that M Squad, which seem to have quite a wide latitude of options available to it, holds on to any trump card they can have. This would no doubt include the masterwork tomahawk they obtained from the two Russian mercenary warlocks. I mean, they weren’t in need of it anymore, and Iizuka did note that it does not seem right for the Japanese Special Forces Group to rely solely on little girls to do their fighting.
Which leads me back to how much balls this man has. The field commander of all the Disas forces on Okinawa, fighting Asuka to a standstill and a hulking monstrosity. And he decides to engage it with just the bog-standard battle rifle M Squad is equipped with, and without any of the magical rounds M Squad uses.
But he achieves his role as a nuisance, allowing him to hand the magical tomahawk to Asuka to finish off her opponent and clearing the rest of the chamber to allow Tabira’s attendants to care for her.
The episode felt lacking in first glance. With the last episode due to air next Friday to cap off the anime season, the introduction of the fifth member of the Magical Five will just leave more questions than answers. The world itself is established, but we still are no closer to finding out who this ‘Queen’ is (though there are strong hints that is Chevalier Francine, the original leader of the magical girls). Or her overall goal.
We’re not even sure what side Lau Peipei is on, or if the woman relaxing in Thailand is really her. As I said elsewhere, this is clearly going to be a series where the desire to know more would have to be sated by a dive into the source material.
But as I thought about it and started to gather my thoughts on this episode, it still felt lacking but there were snippets that made me think. The title was fitting concerning the talk between Giess and Asuka during their fight. Asuka goes through pain, suffering, and has seen it all. As he put it, Asuka ‘has such sad eyes’, ‘like the eyes of a wolf freezing in the cold’. Asuka rebuts his fatalist thinking, acknowledging that the pedestal they’re put on is just that. They’re not miracle workers, and she has thought of letting the world waste away. But she could not when there was so much beauty left in the world to fight for.
The world is not beautiful, therefore it is. Giess only saw the suffering and inhumanity of humanity. No doubt a part of his upbringing and conditioning. Asuka sees that and more, that the human race is worthy dying for.
And in a whiplash of thoughts, Sacchuu is actually pretty handy with using those compact officer’s 1911s akimbo.