「昨日か 明日か/」 (Kinoo ka ashita ka)
“Yesterday or Tomorrow”
Some more individual character development in the vein of the past two episodes, with just the same level of effectiveness.
This week, Luck and Logic decided to grant Asuha the limelight to…mixed results—just like in weeks prior. The structure of a potentially great character arc was there, but many of its crucial elements came undercooked.
A Lone Wolf
At the episode’s core, we certainly got a lot of mileage out of our main cast’s quietest member. We learned that the poor girl was abandoned during infancy, and that she this part of her life has never left her. The notion of being abandoned, and holding desperately onto the notion of your parents’ return—day in and day out is a powerful one. We get the sense that Asuha is unable to let go of the past—she feels unloved and incomplete (hence her inability to smiles), and totally alone.
Except she’s not. She’s now got great friends, but must learn to accept them into her life and realize that the past is the past—she isn’t in this by herself anymore. She needs to abandon her unholy fixation on the past, and stop irrationally hoping for a future that won’t come, and instead accept the one that will—one surrounded by the ones that now love her. Thanks to Tsurugi, she’s able to do just that, and finally show a smile.
The essential themes of her development were there, and got across fine enough, but many aspects of the episode’s narrative lacked the emotional weight and dramaticism it thought it had. As a result, the conclusion felt undeserved and somewhat arbitrary.
Gaps in the Plot
The plot’s incorporation of “over-trance” was especially troublesome. When Asuha resolves to utilize it against the monster of the week, we’re supposed to gasp and be taken aback as much as the main cast were—it was supposed to be this big, dramatic moment. However, while “over-trancing” was certainly addressed before and even once this episode, it didn’t receive nearly the amount required to characterize it as this absolutely devastating action. Hell, I barely even know what it is—the show has not done a good job of getting across what exactly it is what the consequences entail. And honestly, this has been fine because of the additional air of mystique and intrigue it adds to Tsurugi’s past, but that point in the plot demanded that it be given a lot more explaining than we got.
Not to mention that the foreigner (geez, these names) wasn’t nearly threatening enough to justify such a decision—at least any more than in weeks prior. I mean, sure, the guy’s responsible for a substantive power loss, and lives were thusly at risk, but the show didn’t do a superb job of convincing me. All we got was a shot or two of the hospital, during which patients looked more mildly distressed than seriously in danger. The jeopardy of the situation was just not nearly as dire as it should have clearly been. Thus, Asuha’s resolve seemed misplaced and uncalled for.
The commander’s acceptance of Asuha’s decision was also disturbingly uncomplicated. She just sort of gives the okay without taking at least a little bit of time trying to find a solution that didn’t jeopardize the loss of one of her greatest soldiers. This is especially uncomforting given the effortless ease with which Tsurugi arrives at a game plan.
Furthermore, Asuha’s sudden change of character was built up well enough. She decides to stick around because she realizes she actually seriously values her friends, but throughout the episode we got little, tangible sense of that bond. Their friendship should have gotten a lot more screen time to justify her development—more than just shots of her friends worrying about her from a distance. The episode established that she was seriously hung up on the past—enough to lose her memories and identity. While it was thematically resonant that her friends were what help her move on, we still got little sense of their strong relationships (partly because she never says more than a few words every episode, including this one).
That being said, the episode still provided some much-needed characterization. Asuha has been little more than background fodder for the past few episodes, so I’m glad I got some sense of who she is. Like I said, even though the execution was faulty, the design of a great narrative was there. I did get a sense that she did grow as a person—though it’s more a result of believing the information the show is feeding me than actually feeling like she’s grown. Regardless, it seems as if our main cast of logicalists have received their fair share of development. I’d like to think that the goddesses—and maybe even Tsurugi himself—will get some more screen time next week, but I think it’s likely the show will dive into a greater plot going forward. Despite its setbacks, I’m still digging what Luck and Logic has to offer, and don’t want to see the show do anything but succeed.