「天翔る剣」 (Amagakeru Ken)
“Das Schwert des Himmels | The Sword in the Heavens”
Let us keep in mind that, despite Shuumatsu no Izetta being mostly Die Abenteur von Finé und Izetta up until now, it is also nominally a war movie made anime, and thankfully for all the military-hardware fans fans who got roped into watching it’s dishing out more of it this episode. Fortunately, Elystadt is not just Liechtenstein, but maybe some Finland as well, so they can actually put up a fight for our entertainment instead of rolling over and capitulating immediately. It’s a good time, too, for more focus on the principality of Elystadt, the conflict that ravages it, and the people who suffer from it, since without seeing more of it we may not have as much empathy for Finé’s struggle. Y’know, her motivation, what she fights for, all that good jazz. And thus, this chump, the face of the common Elystadt soldiers, here to demonstrate that war is hell, get PTSD, and maybe to write a letter home about how it’s all quiet on the Western Front. But then he doesn’t actually die, unlike all his friends and everyone foolish enough to hang around such an unfortunate looking guy, so meh. I don’t know if we’re supposed to care about him in the long term, but regardless of his actual importance at least his story was filled with tanks and explosions and should make for plenty of entertainment.
Here’s the thing about Shuumatsu no Izetta though: I would have been fine with a plain war movie. It’s not something we actually get a lot of in anime, so simple ‘animated World War II’ actually already has enough novelty to carry 13 episodes of television. Perhaps not everyone has the same interest in history, but the War is already plenty exciting, no? Apparently not, because anime loves to attach bells and whistles to it, like with Valkyria Chronicles, and like it does here with Izetta. I won’t call this practice wrong, of course, but it does drastically change the dynamic of what could have been perfectly good historical fiction. Take our Izetta, the witch who will ride anything that’s long and hard (sorry, sorry, I just can’t help myself, and neither can the show). Let’s face it, she’s basically a Gundam now. While the anachronism she brings to the battlefield is actually pretty neat, she does upstage the entire thing. When one has Superman in one’s story, the story has to be about Superman. And making Superman interesting actual requires a lot of finesse. It means introducing arbitrary limitations to otherwise amazing powers, leading to rainbow Kryptonite nonsense. It means that Germania is probably going to get a Lex Luthor now. And it means the big fight boils down to ‘Izetta swoops in and saves the day’. I’m hoping that Izetta is not here just to ‘solve’ the plot, as a deus ex machina that wins Elystadt the war. I’m not saying that she is, and I think she’s neither going to be omnipotent nor unwavering, but there’s always a fear.
Well, it’s all mostly just something for me to talk about, so no worries for now. Izetta zooming around with her options and chucking tanks is actually pretty cool, and much can be forgiven as long as it’s cool. Looking forward, the pieces appear to be neatly in place. Izetta has been heralded as the second coming of the White Witch, here to save Elystadt, no matter how true that actually is. Finé’s father is dead, leaving her to rule alone. Our main duo each fully feels their burden now. It’s a good place for a series to be in its third episode, and Shuumatsu no Izetta has gotten here with a very solid performance. If you’re the type who likes giving a show three episodes before passing judgment, I think we can safely say that Shuumatsu no Izetta is a keeper.