「私であるために」 (Watashi de Aru Tame ni)
“To Be Who I Am”
Much like the first season, the story breaks away from the laid back pacing and picks up drastically in the final two episodes. Mio’s fading powers are one focus, as is the all-out attack on the Neuroi Hive hovering above Venezia airspace. The real surprise? The Yamato has been equipped with a device that transforms it into a Neuroi for the task. It turns out the research that was put into the Neuroi-powered Warlock from season one has been revamped into some stable yet time-limited form. Evidently, it wasn’t a great idea to bank the entire “Operation Mars” on this newly developed alien technology and assign the Strike Witches to a support type role, though I must say it was pretty awesome seeing the Yamato take off from the ocean’s surface and head straight for hive, shooting down hundreds of mini Neuroi while continually regenerating itself.
Upon seeing that, I was left wondering if the idea to apply it to a battleship stemmed from the Warlock possessing the Akagi when it went out of control. In all likelihood, it was probably just to get the biggest Neuroi-infused weapon the military could muster, given how the plan seemed to entail firing the Yamato’s main cannons at close-range. It’s just a shame their Neuroi-powered magic dynamo had to act up just as they were about to fire, since the operation was pretty epic every step of the way. Starting with the witches doing their thing and the Yamato transforming into its Neuroi version, it sure looked like there wasn’t going to be a repeat of the blunder last time.
However, with the way the story played up Minna and Mio’s objection to the plan in the first place, it was almost scripted that it would mess up at same point and let the witches retake the spotlight. In this case, “a witch” would probably be the more correct phrase, as Mio’s wavering magic and sudden loss of all offensive abilities have pinned her as the one to jump start the dynamo while everyone looks on from afar. Admittedly, I’m still expecting to see the yet to be mastered Shin Reppuzan get the job done though. Mio’s feelings of frustration and helplessness over being unable to protect anyone or anything have been emphasized so much that it would feel wrong for her not to make up for it in the finale next time.
Incidentally, the revelation Reppumaru’s power comes with the costly trade-off of consuming the user’s magic powers made it come off as a certain chakra-eating sword, but it did go on to show how Mio’s been desperately prolonging her active service. The negative effects aren’t too different from ones that Gertrud experienced with the Me 262 V1 striker unit back in episode four, so it kind of says a lot when Minna will let Mio continue using the katana in spite of her obvious disapproval towards it. In any case, I can’t really see anyone dying in this series, so any potential death flags that may be waved are pretty moot. Still, I’m looking forward to seeing how the hive gets destroyed and hoping it’ll be with a Shin Reppuzan.