「聖泉」 (Hijiri Izumi)
“The Holy Spring”
Here we are. Having flown officially over the Holy Spring, the first part of Isla’s journey is now over. It’s been said that an end is merely another beginning though, and it’s almost time that we see exactly what it is the End of the Sky has to offer (aside from what’s likely to be a variety of testing trials for our cast). For now though, we’re still in the calm before the storm, and this week’s episode ends up focusing more on individual character development more than anything.
Sadly however, what this episode also ends up being is a mixture of hits and misses. Because amid all the celebrations and our cast’s attempt to forget the presence of the Sky Clan, it seems like some development was forgotten as well. Maybe it was just me, but the biggest issue I had with this episode was the focus on Chiharu and Mitty’s relationship, which seems to have abruptly jumped a few steps onto the level of crying, holding hands, and expressions of “I just want to fly this sky forever.” I get what they were trying to do here—there’s a lot of parallels to be drawn to Claire x Kal-el especially—but at the same time, the latter had nearly half the series to develop to the point it has, and the former has only had a few glimpses up until now. There’s a jarring difference between the developmental time given to the two relationships, and this ended up being something I couldn’t end up buying into.
That said, even the relationship between Claire and Kal-el seemed to take a slightly unnatural turn this week as well. Part of their interactions could be explained by the events of last episode, but at the same time it feels like there was a decent amount of time that passed in between this episode and the last. Generally, it feels like they were both getting along a lot better than one would’ve expected given what we’ve seen so far, and it felt somewhat odd to see. This doesn’t end up a big issue considering how much their relationship has been developed so far, but it’s hard to shake off the notion that some of the character development (and some of the animation) seemed off compared to previous episodes—even without mentioning the many question marks surrounding Ignacio and the inconsistencies behind his actions.
At least though, we do get some developments rolling on the story front, and it’s interesting to see how things are developing here. Because at this point, the Council of Four clearly demonstrate that they knew about the Sky Clan all along, and the way they seem content to label them barbarians AND their willingness to send trainees out to fight seems to point at some rather sinister motives. Up until now, I had been thinking that much of the dark foreshadowing will have to do with the enemies they have yet to face. But while it’s clear the Sky Clan (and/or whatever else hasn’t been revealed yet) will play a part, it’s intriguing to note that the very people giving our main cast their orders may end up playing an equal or bigger part.
All things considered, the future looks quite bleak, which is sad considering how this episode continues highlighting how Claire is essentially a normal girl now. She’s just someone who wants to live a normal life and be around the person she’s fallen for—even if deep down she may feel like there’s no way they could be together if he found out her secret—and she may not even get that if the Council of Four have their way and forcefully separate the two. It’s a heart wrenching scenario if I’ve ever seen one, and the foreboding title of next week’s episode (“Glorious Death”) doesn’t help the cause either. Phew* The next few episodes could be quite loaded…