Much, much better. I mean, obviously. It would be difficult to list all the ways this episode of Unlimited Blade Works surpassed the last one, but happily, they should be so obvious that such actions aren’t necessary.
What a joy it is to hear Miki Shinichirou in any competently-written role, and his turn here as Assassin is no exception. It’s sad that he’s so woefully underused in this series, but that’s Assassin’s role in the route – he’s very much a bit player here. But both character and actor have made an impression in every brief appearance, and even functioning effectively as a speed bump for Saber doesn’t nullify that. Miki injects “Sasaki Koujirou” with a remarkable amount of pathos, and Assassin’s sober dignity makes a welcome contrast with so much in this series that’s neither sober nor dignified.
Probably the highlight of the episode (apart perhaps from my favorite Shinji appearance yet, (not least because it was utterly silent) was Gilgamesh finally unleashing Ea. Gil is ridiculously overpowered to begin with, so as long as the horses have left the barn anyway may as well burn it down by having him wield the weapon to end all weapons, the Noble Phantasm to end all Noble Phantasms. It’s necessary because Rin manages (with far too much ease, if you ask me) to extract Shinji from the tangle of limbs at the summit of Mt. Grail, and the chalice of curses is hungrily searching for a new heart. Who better than the King of Kings – what an upgrade! I mean, talk about polar opposites when it comes to- well, everything. But not even the Grail’s Popeye forearms are a match for Ea in Gil’s grip.
There’s not a lot of suspense or excitement in Gil’s battle with Shirou. Give the little fella props for doing his best, and using his borrowed Mana to try and copy all the weapons spewing from the Gate of Babylon is a good one, but he’s still a mere fly to Gil. It’s more interesting, I think, to ponder Gilgamesh’s rationale for why he’s doing what he’s doing. I think it has something in common with Kiritsugu’s, in fact, but it has the relative merit to be much more pure and honest about what it is. Shirou lives his life based on a fantasy and Kiritsugu lived his based on an outright lie, but Gil at least is willing to see his ideal through to its moral and logical extreme. And like many repugnant ideals of great purity, it has a sort of appeal – it’s hard to throw logic in the face of his argument that humans have become a pestilence, and that purpose has largely vanished from the world. His dream is evil, of that I have no doubt, but he’s certainly the right being to make the case for it.
Sidonia no Kishi: Daikyuu Wakusei Seneki – 10
Well – the strangest harem in current anime just got even stranger.
Sidonia no Kishi has been in kind of a rut over much of this season, seems to me. The comedy aspect has definitely improved since Tsumugi entered the scene, but the larger plot – which was the overwhelming strength of the first season – has had the feel of running in mud. Nothing seems to go anywhere quickly and it’s all a big mess.
Normally with Sidonia an episode like this one, which completely dispenses with situation comedy and focuses on plot development and space battles, would be a slam-dunk. But the series has done kind of a 180 this season, and indeed the comedy was actually missed here and the episode was rather flat, especially in the first half. We’re seeing a lot of repetitive themes, too, like Kobayashi’s callous disregard for her disposable pilots, new weapons being tested in battle, and new tricks from the Gauna to combat them. And it doesn’t help that the first three minutes is recap and the battle CGI in this ep is some of the worst we’ve seen in a while – really choppy and halting.
Fortunately, things did pick up a bit in the B-Part. In the first place it was nice to see one element not repeating itself, namely Izana getting into trouble and being completely ineffectual in getting out of it until Nagate arrives to save her. Nagate does indeed sortie with Tsumugi to try and do so (Kobayashi was happy to let the recon squad die, but Bunrakunato is worried about how Izana’s death will impact his control over Tsumugi). Izana actually think fast to help herself and her fellow survivor (honestly can’t remember his name) first by diving into the atmosphere to try and lose the pursuing Gauna, and then by jettisoning her fuel to give the Higgs-loving Gauna something to chase. As for Nagate he practically gets killed himself, but the new Mark III armor saves him (though it stretches credulity) when he crashes at ridiculous speed into one of the floating islands.
I can’t bury the headline, though, and that’s definitely the return of Benisuzume. And darned if Shmoomugi didn’t react like someone was encroaching on her turf. This certainly amounts to the most interesting development of the episode and I’m curious to see where Nihei is planning on going with it. I would imagine seeing that “face” again is going to prove emotionally complicated for Nagate, at the very least…