Towa no Quon returns with a second episode that’s tighter, darker and more focused than the first. Thanks to solid production values and an outstanding cast, it provides solid entertainment and some fairly effective character drama.
In some ways BONES, more than any studio, feels both more firmly rooted in their own style and in the past. It used to be GAINAX that had the most distinct signature to every work they released, and certainly SHAFT can be said to as well – though less than they used to. But with some very rare exceptions (Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 springs to mind) everything BONES feels like it was made sometime around 1999. There’s a lot of Rahxephon in every BONES work since, original or adapted. Plots are always byzantine, there are always young people swept along by cruel forces more powerful than they are, and always a focus on the struggle of the social outcast.
I think Towa no Quon is a pretty effective example of the BONES trope, though it would be better served as a weekly series rather than the theatrical OVA release schedule it actually adheres to. The second episode diverged quite in bit in tone from the first, giving more face time to the cyborgs of Kestos, and more validity to their viewpoint. The episode focused mostly on the hunt for a killer, a fiend who leaves behind flowers painted in blood and a sickly, sweet scent. Quon and his band of espers are in a race against Kestos to find the culprit, each for their own reasons.
As you might expect, the killer is an esper – a boy named Kaoru (Kaji Yuki) who can speak to flowers, feel their pain, and make them into a sort of biological weapon that can emit psychedelic chemicals to mess with the brains of his chosen targets. The environmental message of the premiere is strong again here, as that seems to be Kaoru’s motivation – along with the fact that he too has been ignored and stigmatized by humans terrified of his abilities. Quon wants to save him of course – he wants to save everyone – but this boy has done things far worse than the two lost lambs of the premiere, Kiri and Yuuma, and a price must be paid, this being anime and all.
Quon is the real tragic figure here. We learn some things about him, starting with the fact that he’s apparently unable to die (or at least has incredible self-healing powers). That of course leads to the question of just how old he actually is, but whatever his age he’s certainly full of a lifetime of regrets. He regrets the 24 children he’s failed to save so far, and there’s something about the tree he calls Towa at the Fantasium Garden’s greenhouse that he deeply regrets, too. One senses that Quon has taken a lot of pain into himself, and that he’s not as infallible as he seems – either physically or emotionally.
Overall, the production values were again terrific. Well-animated action sequences, well-integrated CGI, and the same retro-techno BONES look to the animation we’ve come to know so well. I also enjoyed the weaving of Proust’s “Remembrance of Things Past” into the plot, through the use of the “Proust Effect” – the notion that smell can trigger powerful memories and emotional reactions in the brain. Both sides had members who thought of Proust when investigating the crimes, interestingly. I found the ending of the episode especially poignant given the recent passing of Towa no Quon’s creator, original director Umanosuke Iida.