「対決の行方」 (Taiketsu no Yukue)
“Place of Confrontation”
Well…it can’t be rainbows and butterflies forever! Knowing that didn’t make it easier to watch as the guys got their asses handed to them again, in a much flashier and more brutal fight than the last. It’s a more significant defeat this time around since they were prepared, and Tamaki in particular, was determined to protect those closest to her. It’s crushing for her to concede defeat and hand over the artifact, fully knowing what’s at stake.
In that same vein though, those are some really kind (or overly arrogant, take your pick) villains – you know it’s going to come bite Aria later by letting Tamaki and her crew live without nary a second thought. I suppose it’s something that requires a bit of a suspension of belief though, because the passive retreat was a necessary plot device; it’s baffling, but not overly offensive. More importantly though, Hiiro no Kakera was never marketed as an action anime so I find I can make these little leaps of logic without too much complaint. The show has plenty to offer in other aspects so the lack of protagonist-antagonist consistency shouldn’t be something that becomes too glaring.
What will be a problem with me is if the show continues to use the same device over and over again. Is Aria just going to retreat every time there’s a fight and Tamaki loses? How many more times are we going to see Tamaki build up her resolve, only to have it crumble? How many more times are we going to see this face? There’s only so many times I can watch the protagonists lose until I simply can’t… and it won’t be due to a matter of attachment. It’s a common trope to have the heroes lose several times so they can grow, but that’s the thing – heroes grow after every encounter.
The problem with Hiiro no Kakera is that an encounter with Aria has happened before, and the guys already faced crushing defeat. This time around it’s a little confusing because I’m assuming they’ve been training… yet they still end up like this? It puts the show at an awkward point because considering its length of two cours, it could go two ways: they repeat the cycle of loss and defeat until Good End, or they suddenly grow stronger with a deus ex machina. At the halfway point, I’m satisfied with everything else: characters, animations, OST, and even the plot. But the pacing is starting to worry me a little because I’m not seeing how this season alone can have a clean “finale” of sorts. Hiiro no Kakera has surprised me with how surprisingly solid it can be though, so I’m definitely holding out on making any judgments as of yet. And hey, I think I can watch Takuma getting punched in the face a couple more times before I can call it quits.
It really is more difficult to watch characters get defeated if you’re attached to them though, and I cringed a little when it became utterly clear the guardians didn’t stand a chance. Rapport between the audience and the characters is extremely important, so kudos to Tamaki, Takuma, Mahiro, Yuuichi, Suguru and Shinji for accomplishing that. The side characters are proving to be quite interesting as well, with the aura of mystery around them – in particular, Kutani Ryou and Ashiya Masataka, who is finally confirmed to be Kiyono’s uncle (props to the commenter who guessed the connection a few weeks back!). He seems to be the wildcard in all this, and I’m wondering if he’ll have a hand in shaping the guys up from zeroes to heroes. And Ryou! Why did you get Preview Duty instead of Takuma this week?! Not that I’m complaining, but I fully expected the tsundere after cycling through all the other guardians!