If Owari no Seraph were a one-cour show I obviously would have committed one way or the other by now, but because it’s a split-cour I’ve let this drag out longer than I normally would. Every time I’ve been about to drop it something has snagged me and kept me around, but after this episode I think my patience is just about exhausted.
Unfortunately Kagami Takaya keeps reminding me why, before I started this series, I considered him a hack. The cliches and tropes are so thick in the air, and the plot so arbitrary and nonsensical, that as much as I love the art design here – and that’s a lot – I just can’t see myself sticking around any longer in blogging terms. The addition of the supremely annoying Sanguu Mitsuba (Iguchi Yuka) certainly doesn’t help – she’s pretty much every irritating female LN character trait embodied in one body. But the whole military exercise this week – if you can call it that – played like the inane scenes in the school, except transplanted onto the streets of a ruined Shinjuku-ku.
That’s the sad paradox here. Those depictions of Harajuku and Omotesando were wonderful – impressionistic and evocative. But no matter how beautiful the sets, if the play itself is badly written it’s going to fail. You could break down every aspect of this new five-person squad’s mission and none of their actions hold up to any logical scrutiny, but it is what it is – Kagami. Maybe next week will surprise me – this series has done it before – but I just don’t think the gorgeous backgrounds and somewhat interesting premise are going to be able to trump everything about Owari no Seraph that’s predictable and downright dumb.
Sidonia no Kishi: Daikyuu Wakusei Seneki – 06
The slice of life stuff I can pretty well dispense with here, I think – by now, my feelings about Sidonia no Kishi as a comedy are pretty much an open book. It’s amazing how forgettable these non-epic Sidonia eps are, though I’d say this one was actually a half-step above the series’ norm. Some of the stuff with Shmoomugi busting through the pipes to snuggle up to Tanikaze (and Izana, at least for a while) was actually sort of amusing. I can say this – if Tsumugi ever switches from deredere to full yandere, things are going to get incredibly ugly.
The meat of the episode comes in the B-plot, where we see Izana’s grandma in the process of developing a superweapon – a graviton cannon capable of blowing everything within 10 KM its beam clean out of existence. Call me cynical, but the prospect of this kind of technology in the hands of Kobayashi is pretty terrifying – and as always, it’s this side of the show that’s really compelling. Kobayashi, Bunrakunato – Sidonia is pretty screwed here as far as I can see, with megalomaniacal immortals holding all the reins of power.
There is one other moment in the episode that’s full of portent, and that’s conversation Nagate and Shoomugi have on the subject of stag beetles. It’s pretty clear the stag beetle “only seeing us a big, scary predators it could never communicate with” (in Shmoomugi’s words) is a metaphor for humans and gauna. But are we see the stag beetle in that metaphor, or are the gauna?
Oh, and also – Nagate and Izana are officially living together, now in Nagate’s swanky new digs on the outer wall. This relationship is such an odd one and Nihei-sensei is so clumsy writing relationships that I honestly have no idea if we’re seeing some sort of romantic progress here or not, but it is sort of interesting to watch.
Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works – 19
Well, the truth is pretty much laid out on the table at this point. Archer is Shirou and Shirou is Archer, and none other than Kirei has been pulling Lancer’s strings all along. He’s a hell of a manipulator, this one – I don’t agree with much that Rin says, but she’s right in believing there’s no way Kirei would die that easily. He’s like a cockroach.
Fundamentally, this ep boils down to the idealogical conflict at the heart of Shirou’s character. Seeing Lancer struck down for refusing to obey Kirei’s order to kill Rin was certainly a headline moment – the fate of Lancers in Fate seems to be a pretty ugly one. But the main event is Archer laying out the truth of the universe as he sees it, as Shirou stands by listening in silence, staring at the sword Archer has tossed at his feet.
I have to agree with Saber on this one – as a “Guardian” (stay frosty) who exists outside of time, it seems like a pretty big stretch to say that killing Shirou in this timeline will erase Archer’s heroic sprit existence. But desperate times call for desperate measures, and it’s easy to see Archer’s existence as a kind of perfect hell. Can there be a more ill-fitting tandem than pure idealism and immortality to begin with? Add to that the fact that Archer’s role is basically to act as a living weapon of pure consequentialism and it’s easy to see why the poor bastard would be willing to try anything to end his endless cycle of despair.
In a sense, one could almost say this is a case of the son growing up to be like the father he swore he would never become, even if that is a bit of an oversimplification. There’s still some twists and turns to be navigated here, certainly, but the gist of what Unlimited Blade Works is really about should be clear now. Rather than a value judgment of Shirou’s personal philosophy – and Archer’s – I think it’s more a reflection on what trying to live by it has done to both of them.