While it was certainly an open question how A-1 Pictures was going to conclude this adaptation, one thing I was pretty confident of – even before the movie announcement – was that no doors would be closed. No vital characters would die – if they’re alive in the manga they’d survive the anime. That left anime-original characters like Ernst as sacrificial lambs, but indeed none of the major cast died and no potential avenues for a second season were closed off (Yukio was even demoted back down to Middle First Class). If and when (and I’d bet the farm on “when”) a second season rolls around, if A-1 so chooses they can pick up pretty much where they left the manga last month and not skip a beat.
That’s all well and good, but the most important question is how the ending stands on its own. There’s no question that the series lost a little of its dramatic firepower when the anime veered off, but I’ve generally enjoyed this final arc and it didn’t end badly. If I’m going to fault it, I would argue that it was too predictable and – even given my expectations – too open-ended. The final battle on the rooftop went just as I expected, with Arthur joining up with Shura, and the Okumura brothers setting aside their squabbles to stand (or fly) together against their father. It’s not as if things could have ended any other way, but as has sometimes been the case with this adaptation the characters get where they’re going a little too quickly and conveniently, with the necessary emotional journey feeling rather rushed.
I was also a bit disappointed that, right to the end, both Mephisto and Takara ended up playing the role of spectator. We did get an interesting flashback at the start of the episode, where Mephisto apparently made a bargain with Faust himself – apparently choosing his alias as a tribute – and he did at least provide commentary when Rin and Yukio joined their demonic powers to form a flaming phoenix that was rather cool. But I’d hoped for more, a real choice – and as for Takara, all he did was pop his head in at the close and say a few words of snark through his bunny puppet. “Where have you been all this time?” Indeed, Shima – my very words. Probably the most interesting element of the final arc was the question of Satan’s motives – it’s clear that Yuri genuinely believed ( and still believes) that this notion of uniting Genenna and Assiah has merit, and that their sons will still have a role to play in doing just that.
My favorite moment of the episode was when Rin and Yukio – sent by Mephisto – headed off to the abandoned forest where Yuri died giving birth to them 16 years earlier. That added a nice benedictory moment at the close of the series, as well as framing the contradiction of their existence and setting the stage for future developments. As if it weren’t clear enough that this wasn’t really an ending, the anime closed with a completely extraneous bit about a demon that possesses vehicles, giving Rin one last chance to show all all his shounen character attributes and giving us one more Blackie moment. It was an odd choice, ending as it did quite literally in the middle of the scene.