I guess when a series delivers up a perfectly competent, attractively produced and well-paced conclusion (though not finale) that wraps up the major storylines in exactly the manner it’s built up to and it still leaves you utterly cold, that’s the final proof that series just doesn’t work for you.
Unlimited Blade Works is a show I can find a lot about which to like, and thoroughly if intermittently enjoy over most of its run as a result. But endings are another matter. The disconnect I feel with the entire raison d’ etre of UBW can’t be bandaged over here – no matter how neatly the ending delivers what the series promised it would, if you feel nothing for it you can’t take that ending the way it was intended to be taken. The experience is hollow for me, and it’s not the series’ fault – it’s just the inevitable final act of the relationship. It was always going to come to this and there was nothing either of us could do to prevent it.
What we got was classic UBW – a reality marble, a deus ex Archer, a final moment of GAR-moe from Saber. Lots of catch phrases, and a final comeuppance for Gilgamesh. Maybe one might have allowed the possibility of a different ending for Saber (and remember, we still have an episode left) but apart from that, this episode was true to form. If one buys into this – believes the series is really as deep as it thinks it is, believe the heroes are worth really caring about – it would be hard to imagine this ending being dissatisfying in any major way. But I was just rooting for Gil the whole time, because somehow a nihilistic ending would have felt more satisfying to me than the one we got.
I’m really not sure where ufotable plans to go with the “Epilogue” finale next week – I have some suspicions, but we’ll have to wait and see.
Sidonia no Kishi: Daikyuu Wakusei Seneki – 11
I don’t really have to add much to that. There have been great episodes of Sidonia no Kishi before, but that might be the first one that just left me speechless from awe.
The really odd thing about this show is the contrast between episodes – so many are so utterly forgettable, yet both seasons are peppered with breathtaking examples of anime science-fiction at its spectacular best. It’s no small irony that this week’s marvel comes at the end of a highly mediocre run, but that doesn’t diminish it in any way. From the early scenes of Izana and Commander Whozit on the planet’s surface dealing with creepy Eva-esque giants, this was breathless, thrilling and pretty much perfect.
Lots of good stuff here… That aforementioned giant, especially when he stuck that tongue through the gap in the rock – loved the way the scenes on the surface were composed. Then there’s Nagate’s rescue of the survivors and subsequent battle with the Gauna cluster – fantastic stuff, especially when he pulled that katana out. This is easily Nagate’s most GAR sequence of the series (I fully concur with Izana’s reaction) – he was an absolute beast of a pilot here. And again, beautifully executed – those slicing sword thrusts and subsequent results, wow…
And then of course we have Benisuzume’s battles with first Tsumugi and then Nagate. These family squabbles do get ugly, don’t they? The appearance of Hoshijiro is a splendid shock moment, both for the characters and for us. And let’s not forget, this is the girl who was indisputably at the head of the pack as far as Nagate was concerned before she sacrificed herself. That makes the ending of the episode especially gripping – trying to kill Benisuzume in
Angel Gauna form is one thing, but what by all appearances (even if it isn’t in reality) is Hoshijiro herself? That’s a tough hill for poor Nagate to climb.
It sure seems fitting to get a classic episode like this on the day Neon Genesis Evangelion started – June 22, 2015 (the day the events of the premiere took place). It’s frustrating to know Sidonia can be this good and so rarely is, especially coming at the end of a fairly indifferent season. But great anime sci-fi like this is so rare that I’ll gladly take it where I can get it.