「残酷なおとぎばなし」 (Zankoku na Otogibanashi)
“A Cruel Fairy Tale | Das grausame Märchen”
Perhaps Joker Game has set for me an unreasonable standard in anime spies. Perhaps my fondness for espionage fiction makes me critical of shows that only touch that genre tangentially and insufficiently. But, I must say, this week in Shuumatsu no Izetta, the cast has as a whole suffered traumatic brain injury and become utter morons. Or, at least, they’ve lost all their genre savvy all at once. Look, when a pair of suspicious strangers who seem to know your country’s human superweapon casually vampires her and then mysteriously vanish, the correct response is not, ‘no it was nothing’. Please, make a bigger deal of these things, at least enough to cross-reference the guest list. In the same way, when you’re fighting a war and are in the midst of flushing out a spy (so you know they’re about), please don’t pick up total strangers without showing some of that healthy paranoia you managed to drum up for Izetta back in episode 04. The sweet old ladies I can excuse as just simple country folk, but you’re the captain of the royal guard, for crying out loud. I don’t care how weak you are to stories of selfless patriotism, at least put up some resistance with an interrogative glare or something.
Bianca’s newfound naiveté was no doubt to smooth over the little star-crossed romance she needed to have with the enemy spy, which would have been a worthy cause if her side story managed to pay off emotionally. But I must say, with heavy heart, that it was weak. There just was not enough time to develop a relationship in one episode, even if it was mostly implied as it was here. It was mostly a bundle of clichés, anyway, some blushing here, some privacy intrusion there, like every other anime rom-com. Now, I don’t actually disapprove of making use of these genre conventions to speed through the setup of a story, but only if it is used to make time for something larger and more profound down the line. Here, it’s simply a tale we’ve seen time and again, about an attraction spanning two sides of a conflict that was never meant to be, but hurriedly told. I don’t dislike Bianca, and I sympathise wit her if her heart is broken, but on what basis was it? You two haven’t actually had all that much interaction, and everything you know about him is a lie. What exactly are we grieving for?
Am I nitpicking? Perhaps. Mostly, I think that Bianca and Ricelt’s story could actually have been a pretty good one, but there was no time to tell it properly within Shuumatsu no Izetta. But I also think details matter, especially in historical fiction. The internal logic needs to be very tight, or else we start questioning the alternate history it presents. We’re familiar with actual history, so if you’re going to change it around you need to make sure it still works. Take, for example, witches in this setting. Apparently, witch burning still happened in this timeline, but apparently witch powers are also real. So, how did they manage that? I mean, these witches could fly, amongst other things; even if they have to stick to the leylines, I don’t know what problems they would have against peasants with pitchforks. They were just burning random Muggles, right? The witches were fine, right? In the same vein, the Atlantian ambassador’s advice to invade Elystadt may seems pragmatic realpolitik at first, but kinda needs to be thought out a bit more. Either Izetta is the terrifying superweapon you say she is and you shouldn’t be provoking Elystadt (and, let’s be honest, you only saw her lob some torpedoes at a ship, she’s a miniaturised bomber at best), or she isn’t so terrifying that you can’t conquer Elystadt anyway, so what’s the big deal? Just get to the Manhattan Project already.
Well, these are all just minor distractions while we wait for the fighting to begin again next episode. It seems that, now that the Germanians presumably have figured out everything about Izetta’s secret, she’s going to be in trouble now. But, really, the spies took those pictures in dark, with only a flashlight for illumination, and without having invented colour photography yet. Izetta’s going to be fine.
Full-length images: 14.