AKB0048 Next Stage – 11
「扉の向こう側」 (Tobira no Muko Gawa )
“Beyond the Door”
As it turns out, what’s beyond the door is nothing but the unexpected this week on AKB0048. The part where Chieri volunteers to become a Center Nova in exchange for sparing Nagisa and her fellow AKB members? I expected that. The other AKB0048 members trying to find ways to rescue Nagisa and Chieri? Saw that coming too. The hyper jump directly underground to Akibastar? Okay, well, I didn’t see that one coming. But despite the rather crazy nature of the above to try and take back Akibastar, it just doesn’t hold a candle to the last thing we see this episode: the assassination of Chieri’s father.
Gosh darn, what a way to go. Really, out of all the things in the realm of possibility, this was definitely not one of them — especially not after it looked like Chieri and her father might finally manage to come to some kind of proper understanding (or at least recognition of each other). But darn it, instead all Chieri gets after singing her heart out and showing off all her radiance is seeing her father in a pool of blood — and it’s just some really power, but really saddening stuff. Everything — all those flashbacks of Chieri’s past — was just setting up for some grand emotional release… and well, yeah. I can’t say there’s anything particular in words to describe how surprising that end was, although I suppose in ways, there were a few hints potentially dropped throughout the episode.
Regardless, the fact of the matter is Chieri’s father is indeed dead… which leaves Chieri and Nagisa free to return to the Flying Get… and a lot of questions regarding who killed him, whether or not it was DES (or perhaps even someone supporting AKB?) that was involved, and whether or not this means AKB now has some kind of flexibility in terms of taking back Akibastar. With only two episodes left however, it looks like we’ll likely get an answer sooner or later, though I’m admittedly wondering if only two episodes will actually be enough to resolve all the open plot lines at the moment. Makes you wonder if a 3rd season is in the works…
Moving back up a bit though, the big thing for me aside from the surprising developments I mentioned above was the whole contrast between Akibastar and Sagittariusstar — or in other words, the difference between a planet not under the Entertainment Ban and one fully under it. The use of really dreary colors, the quiet atmosphere, billboard-less buildings… just some chilling stuff. Combine that with the whole view into Chieri’s life and how her father actually was the ironic source of her first experience with AKB0048… and the episode in general was pretty nice to say the least.
Admittedly though, the latter did make me wonder if Chieri’s father had intended for her to try and join AKB0048 and become Center Nova in the first place. Because when you think about it, it seems to be way too much of a coincidence for her to just find the PDA, Yasunaga helping her find more AKB reference materials, and her just so happening to be invited to an inspection on Lancastar before a guerrilla concert. I guess it could still be pretty coincidental, but part of me feels like Chieri’s father was intentionally pushing her towards discovering her radiance from the get go — albeit via a roundabout fashion. It’d fit particularly well with the things Nagisa’s father mentioned about him this week as well… which really makes me wonder.
In addition to this though, there was one other thing I wanted to mention, which was the whole bit about “following your heart.” To me, that concept’s always been something that’s resonated with me, I suppose — and I just felt like it was worth a mention, because it’s true. Sometimes, the best decision is the one where you just don’t think too much about it — one where you just follow your gut and what you think is right for you, and let that lead you to wherever it does. All within reason, of course!
In any case, things’ll definitely go out with a bang… although I’m admittedly unsure how exactly it’ll work out after what happened this episode. I reckon Akibastar’ll be taken back before it’s all said and done… but getting everyone to Center Nova status sounds like a tall task, and again… there’s a fair amount to wrap up. I do suppose though, that it’s just how Kawamori likes it, as he certainly has the tendency and ability to make some pretty darn epic endings. Guess we’ll see how that works.