「フーダニット (誰がやったか)」 (Fūdanitto (Dare ga Yatta ka))
“Whodunit (Who did it)”
After 20 episodes of red herrings, false turns, twists, and many potential candidates… the Mage of Exodus is finally revealed in style — to be Fuwa Aika herself. And well, despite the suspicions many of you (and myself) have had regarding this potential scenario unfolding — I have to say, I found myself quite surprised, as the reveal was much more sudden (and epic) than I ever anticipated. One moment I was just sitting there going “whoa, Hakaze really over did it with the emergency retreat there” and the next one it’s like, “HOLY CRAP WHERE DID SHE COME FROM!?” Some crazy stuff. Took a little bit for it to actually sink in. But in the end… I suppose it had to be her. There’s just no one else could’ve really made that moment more epic than it was — I mean, LOOK AT THAT SWORD! I want one! The question that remains though, is what happens now?
Considering what one knows about the sequence of events and the fact that Fuwa Aika ends up dying… one would reason that Hakaze ends up being the reason why she does. Subsequently, this would leave us with a scenario where Hakaze thus returns to the present to report her findings… and the scenario where Mahiro goes to hunt down Hakaze and Yoshino ends up fighting Mahiro in an attempt to stop him. Of course, there’s the potential that Mahiro ends up not following up on his revenge because he realizes that Hakaze had no choice given that Aika was the Mage of Exodus…. though that doesn’t seem that likely, if you end up taking the reaffirmation from Mahiro and the sequence in the OP (where Mahiro and Yoshino are running toward each other) seriously.
On the flip side though, one has to wonder if Aika’s death is even written in stone at this point. It is not impossible that Hakaze could either die or be rendered unable to return to the present (whether due to influence from the past or the present). Furthermore, if one assumes that Aika has magical powers of similar prowess to Hakaze… then theoretically, Aika could travel to the present herself using the same trick Hakaze does — considering that her bones should still be present and Hakaze herself discussed the possibility of this body switch earlier in the episode.
Indeed, there’s just an unimaginable number of ways things could work out now — despite it seeming that the first possibility is the likeliest at the moment — and at this point, you really have to chalk it up to the series. Zetsuen no Tempest just continues to show just how well it’s been structured and written — making us doubt each and everyone of our predictions and making it so that the ending still isn’t clear despite it only being four episodes away. Just superb writing to say the least, and one highlighted further when you consider how the beginning of the episode actually discusses some of the other possibilities — in terms of who murdered Aika and what would happen as a result — that some of us have wondered about previously (and some we haven’t). The series just knows how to cover its bases even before we think about it — and there’s just this kind of foresight in the writing that makes it above and beyond what one would consider a typical series. On top of it all, they managed to sneak in that whole comedic moment with Samon and his hair (“You sure don’t looked troubled! Your hair is still intact! No. It’s a wig. YOU LIE! Yes, I did. But you never joke around like that! And that is how troubled I’ve been. Oh, I see.”) too, which admittedly put a smile on my face.
Ultimately, there’s just not much I can say aside from the fact that this episode was how the prelude to an end should be. Everything about this week just oozed “the end is coming,” and I mean, if you’re going to set up for an ending, this is how you do it. You save one of the biggest revelations for as long as you can, reveal it in style, then give it more than enough time (four whole episodes!) to resolve. At the same time, you make it so that it’s not easily predictable what’s going to happen in the future, while also making it so that the audience doesn’t mind the uncertainty because they know it will likely receive a satisfactory resolution. That’s how it’s done — and that’s how Zetsuen’s been doing it up until now. With the revelation of Aika as the Mage of Exodus, the epic ending we expected looks like it’ll come as anticipated, and well dang it — WHY CAN’T IT BE NEXT WEEK ALREADY!?