Whatever else you might care to say about A-1 Pictures’ anime-original ending for this season, let this be clear – they’re definitely going big.
While it was not without flaws, I liked this episode an awful lot. Pacing was still too fast, though it was definitely improved over last week’s insanity. The effect of this frenetic velocity is that character motivations tend to be lost, leaving only their actions behind, and we did see that problem continue this week. But on the whole things were more coherent and compelling with this episode, with the spine of the final arc becoming pretty apparent. Not everyone will like this direction I’m sure, but it’s certainly interesting to me.
So is Satan being made out to be a good guy, as I’ve seen some charge? I wouldn’t interpret things that way, no. What seems obvious to me is that Yuri was both reckless and dangerously naïve, and intensely drawn to the powerful mind of Satan. No attempt was made to gloss over the deaths Satan caused, and I think it was clear his presence in Assiah is nothing we should be celebrating. At the same time, though, I’m pretty confident that the flashback he showed Yukio was more or less accurate. It had the ring of truth to it, and it’s been obvious almost from the beginning that Egin was a bad man. Yuri feeling sorry for Satan is another one of those things that would have flowed more smoothly if there’d been time to flesh out Yuri’s character and show us how she came to be the sort of woman for whom that was possible.
Why didn’t Egin just use Yukio’s blood to begin with, you might ask? Logic is another casualty of the fast pacing in this case, I think. It can certainly be no surprise that Yukio would offer himself up in the place of Rin, given his current frustrated mindset of impotent protector of his brother. Arrogance was Egin’s downfall (as is pretty much the norm in shounen anime and manga) and I shed no tears for him. That he’d ordered Yuri murdered was no surprise to me, though it was fascinating to see the anime’s take on the origins of Rin and Yukio. That felt as if it could have been canon to me, especially Mephisto’s role in it – I could very easily see him taking advantage of the situation to have a little fun and gain control over two very powerful baby entities. Shiro decided to raise the boys just a little too quickly (pacing again) but is he the sort of man that would murder two infants in cold blood even in those circumstances? I don’t think so.
Also of interest is Takara’s role in all this. He finally spoke with – very significantly – the bunny set aside. Sitting on a girder, observing events on the school rooftop, reading from “Revelations”? Fascinating indeed – just what is he and whose side is he on? Might he perhaps be an angel, or – a Horseman? Hmm… And of course, Mephisto’s motivations remain as clouded as ever. He always seems to be in control no matter what’s going on around him, but where are his interests? If Satan has re-entered Assiah via Egin’s stupidity and now possesses his most perfect vessel yet in Yukio, that seems to put some pressure on the implacable Mepphy to finally choose a side once and for all.
So there you have it. With two eps left no one – even the manga readers – can say with authority how all this will shake out. It has the look of an interesting finale if veteran director Okamura-sensei can get the pacing right. We’ve seen the viewpoint Yuri seemed to live by – not all demons are bad – espoused repeatedly through the series, with Blackie and even Mephisto himself just to name two examples. But I can’t imagine A-1 going with the premise of a peaceful resolution with Satan, that notwithstanding. And who will fill the power vacuum at the Vatican, with the Grigori deposed and Egin’s group seemingly destroyed? With their Paladin currently hosting the Prince of Darkness, there are obviously personnel changes on the way in Rome.