「5TH DAY – 驚愕の木曜日」 (Kyougaku no Mokuyoubi)
“5TH DAY – Thursday’s Shock”
For what seemed to be the most imposing Septentrione to date, that fight sure ended in a jiffy. To be fair, the events here don’t diverge much from how the fight went down in the game – you’ve got the ridiculously hilarious setup of Airi summoning Kama with her “sexiness” (Gods apparently love bellybuttons) and Hinako summoning Shiva with a dance ritual. Here shows one of my favorite aspects of the SMT series; its tendency to work exisiting mythology and legends into the narrative in some really interesting ways. JP’s attack plan basically puts a twist on the mythology of Kama being incinerated by Shiva, and has Shiva striking Alioth in the process. Two speculations can be made about this: the first being that the remaining Septentriones can no longer be effectively taken down by the summoners, and the second being the absolute necessity of JP’s if humanity is to survive the purge. As Hibiki comes to learn, the Hotsuein family had indeed known about the apocalypse for generations, and prepared counter-strategies to the Septentriones; strategies that are utterly merciless in consequences, which only Yamato seems to be willing to shoulder.
I’m actually a little surprised that a large bulk of the episode was devoted to fleshing Alcor out as a character; although it’s definitely not a narrative decision I’m complaining about. The enigmatic frenemy is certainly more interesting to watch compared to the bulk of the cast. As a mechanism of Polaris which developed self-consciousness, an existential crisis is found at the very core of his character- hence, the Anguished One. And while he speaks at length about human potential and their possibilities, he seems to know comparatively little about the humans themselves. An interesting dichotomy is built into his every action where he’s at once wise and clueless; leading to the open-ended perspective he offers to Hibiki, and his social awkwardness that earns a few small chuckles from the hilarious overreaction Daichi and Io had to Alcor’s behavior.
As Alcor himself states, his perspective vastly differs from Yamato’s single-minded pursuit to enforce a meritocracy in his new world. It’s easy to say here that Alcor’s vision of a future full of possibilities is the more attractive one for a new world; but likewise, its ambiguous nature also lacks the singular ideal Yamato’s vision possess, to let the truly talented guide the world to a better future. There are interesting cases here that can be made for both sides, and even Ronaldo’s fading vision of egalitarianism; if only DeSu2A had the time to truly explore the intricacies of the existential perspectives being offered here. Sadly, the exploration of the subject doesn’t quite reach the depth I had hoped it would, and at this stage, I doubt we’ll ever go any deeper.
With all that said, the pacing did feel noticeably quicker compared to what we’ve been watching up till now. And while it isn’t so fast that I’m assuming the average anime-only watcher can’t keep up, I can’t help but be slightly worried if the pacing continues to ramp up.
The next episode, which likely covers the entirety of the 6th day, is going to show how well they’ll be able to manage; Io’s foreshadowed sacrifice -whether it truly comes to pass or not- is poised to be the emotional climax of the character- possibly the show as well. I’ll be frank here; Io hasn’t exactly made a particularly memorable impression over the course of the anime, and given the pacing, I doubt the next episode is going to change my mind; I can only hope that they play it dramatically enough that my heart stirs a little.