「6TH DAY – 決別の金曜日」 (Ketsubetsu no Kinyoubi)
“6th Day – Friday’s Partings”
It’s fair to say that for DeSu2A, this Io-centric episode had plenty riding on it. The narrative’s been building towards this moment for weeks, and in the Russian Roulette game that DeSu2A has become, Io’s life had been the highest stakes the show’s put forth thus far. Naturally, I expected things to end in grim fashion- despair seemed to be the prerogative of DeSu2A, and Io’s death would by far have the largest, most lasting impact compared to any other characters’. It would have been the one event to finally make Hibiki stand completely against JP’s, despite the cheapness of the death to force an emotional development. Lo and behold, my expectations for the episode were overturned in a most incomprehensible series of twists; don’t make me try and explain how Hibiki’s Shakko-magic worked, because I honestly have no ideas myself. (And this coming from a game-player) Like I said, I don’t know if I should be happy –that DeSu2A didn’t go down the most obvious, angst-fodder route it could’ve taken– or be dismayed at the incredibly inane way they pulled it off.
To be honest, whether Io died or not mattered little to me in the end, since the crux is that this was meant to be the emotional climax of the series. I expect my opinions will differ from the majority in this regard, because as impossible as it sounds, they actually managed to evoke a good feeling from me. Now before you get all hasty with the comment button, my opinion doesn’t change the fact that the narrative in the episode was flawed, incredibly so. The storyline involving the Septentrione Mizar, the Lugh control mechanisms and the Shakko dragon was utterly confusing, and rife with cheese and clichés; what with Hibiki pulling off a deus ex machina and bringing Io’s shattered consciousness back together with his outspoken feelings.
But as confused as the narrative was, and as cringe-worthy as some the dialogue was; it was so undeniably heartwarming for me to see the two characters connect emotionally, and together break the curse of the death clips. This might just be the one time DeSu2A managed to genuinely convince me on an emotional level, where Hibiki and Io’s mutual feelings came across with a surprising sincerity. The reason this could even work can largely been credited to the presentation of the scene, undoubtedly the show at its most evocative and beautiful, whilst being bolstered by the brilliantly poignant insert song. Also, credit where credit is due: Putting aside the dialogue, Uchida Aya somehow managed to keep her overacting (mostly) in check and actually pulled off a really touching performance for the emotionally distraught Io. Now why didn’t she show this more subdued (and IMO better) side in the earlier episodes?
It again makes me wonder what DeSu2A could’ve been like in the hands of a more competent team, with a better script and more time to develop its characters. Amidst the waffle over Io’s sacrifice is a noble attempt at exploring how this completely normal girl was trapped, both literally and emotionally, by the horrible circumstances of the Septentrione attacks and the JP’s counterplan forced upon her. This could partly be my gamer’s bias at work here, but Io’s emotional breakdown seems to merely be an inkling of the potential at exploring this, a potential that was ultimately undermined by the show’s constant hitting of the plot magic button.
In any case, I highly doubt DeSu2A has the capacity to surprise like this again in its last 3 episodes; the narrative focus have steadily been shifting towards the the trio of Hibiki, Alcor and Yamato, with an ultimate showdown to decide the fate of the post-septentrione world seemingly the most likely scenario for the climax of this story.
Full-length images: 06.