「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.


  1. So the major has a zombie-witch now, maybe even the original white witch or some sort of clon that was rebuild from her remains. I wonder what will happen if she gets her hand on more blood or that bloodstone from the castle.

    Maybe the reason the white witch is treated as a traitor by other witches is not only because she helped the prince but also because she messed up and revealed the ley-line secret. It was enough to catch and burn her. And afterwards they could use the information to catch other witches as well. Not all of them and the they would also burn normal people, but I would assume that it takes a while before the other witches can spread the word and not all of them know the exact position of all ley-lines, so it would be kinda hard for them to always stay somewhere with power.

      1. Not only did the CIA not exist in 1940, but neither did either of its linear antecedents. Closest thing to an American foreign intelligence agency in 1940 should have been ONI, which would have been almost entirely aimed at the Pacific, and protecting American imperial assets, such as the Philippines. Five minutes of research reveals that even ONI was a morbund nonentity mostly obsessed with chasing Communists in 1940, and had been supplanted by a private intelligence outfit run by FDR’s rich and privileged peers of the New York aristocracy, called, ominously, ROOM. And even ROOM was entirely on the back-foot in the late 1930s and early 40s, running around putting out brushfires and rooting out Nazi spy networks in Newfoundland and Latin America.

        I swear, Japanese writers have zero understanding of pre-war American political and foreign interests. The US was as likely to invade Narnia in 1940 as land-locked western not-Austria.

        Mitch H.
    1. There are countless animes that have people from other countries and almost all of those animes that have the US in them they make the US some sort of villians. Notice you never see Japanese animes taking ownership for the Rape of Nanking in 1937 or all the atrocities they did in WW2 like Pearl Harbour. Animes that have multiple countries in them always make the Japanese out to be a great and noble people.

      Then again I guess any anime that told the truth about the Japanese people and their place in history probably would not sell well.

      1. “never see Japanese animes taking ownership for the Rape of Nanking in 1937 or all the atrocities they did in WW2 like Pearl Harbour.”

        I do remember one scene in Full Metal Panic! where one character (captain of the US Submarine IIRC) reminding people about the Pearl Harbor. That counts as an acknowledgement from the anime, right?

  2. Sorry Passerby I am sure the German Agfa film 1936 will take color photo’s fine. But you are right that flash light might not cut it.
    I got the story a bit better but yes it would probably need two or episodes to clearly fully.

    I like someone to come up a historical equivalent to these women guards as for the most part world wide at start of war women would be considered both unfit and too precious to risk in battle. With historical rates up to 75% of children not living to adult hood along with huge loses with adults women were way too important in having babies to even afford nuns that they did have. In 1900 in the US the rate was still 50%. Despite efforts on Wikipedia and other places to claim that marriage ages were as high or higher as current times the well documented age of 12 in the Roman Empire stayed that way especially for the peasants till efforts matching the improvements in health care and conditions allowed the luxury of having children later and fewer. Age of consent in England was 12 till 1885. Source I have on hand is Peter the Great a Pulitzer Prize winning book by the noted historian Robert K Massie. Like women of my mother age 83 girls in WWII time were marrying right after or before leaving high school and I even play bridge with my mother against a woman married at 16 which was common then. Point being attitudes were still shifting from times when women really could no be risked in war in any numbers. And social norms had been built to keep women in the childbearing role. Women were breaking from traditional roles of course even in the 1800’s but in small numbers, the boom of independent women in the 1920’s was mostly reduced by the Great Depression when social norms went back to traditional.

    Ignoring that fact that a women guard would be very unlikely before the pressures of WWII made countries use women in desperation, and even with the same desperation women were only used in lower numbers in limited non combat roles in WWI, I do not know how much under cover teaching a small country would have trained it’s soldiers. Although to me a spy talking their way though is believable as it was done sometimes other times it failed, people tend to drop the high vigilance way to fast after the first criss and this is at least a month in, for story telling purpose it would be better to establish a better cover for our spy say a family with German connections that have maintained good relations with the locals sponsoring our spy. So the spy would say take me by the “name” farm so I can get dry clothes and they can vouch for me. Even better have his cover as what he claimed insured by him replacing someone who actually fits that description that disappeared in detention. So to sell better to us critics.

    The women and male guards and security planing was not good period but again small country with little history in the great game. They failed to search the castle for secret entrances.

    At the party I assume the guest list was checked if the British were cooperative, I took that as a given but clearly they needed to at least start the process on screen although there is only a limited amount of space. I have written way longer on how the way TV and Anime both pick up lots of errors by the need to do a set number of episodes with a to limited amount of time to do them in. With a number of episodes not needed to be fixed and a process where the whole thing was done first then edited and scenes modified or added most productions would be way better.

    These Germans are way better at the spy game in the real war the British totally pwned the Germans there were no German agents in Britain that were not double agents for the British. Want to read about true master spy read up on Agent Garbo from Spain who when the British would not take him as a spy joined the Germans made up a fake German spy ring in Britain that got him hired by the British as a double agent to expand his fake spy network that the Germans paid for and was a key part of fooling the Germans. Only person to receive the highest award from both Germany and Britain during the war as the Germans never figured it out. Making the Germans think your doing a wonderful job while pulling their briefs over their head is a master stroke.

    Even more Yuri with the leads and now a Yuri foe. I find it fun and here we know it class S the archduchess has to marry a man and she is the type of woman who will follow her duty. FlipFlapers actually had a scene this week that is what I consider the real end of most class S relationships with both girls in sexy nightgowns in bed in a motel.

    I would speculate a third real story for the fairy tail, the Duke took the White Witch as his lover from the very start and kept her in secret for many years until she had to be used in war and continued that relationship till his death.

  3. Despite the scene where Rickert bursts in on Bianca while she’s bathing, I’m inclined towards the interpretation that he brought out her big sister instincts. The scene at the Inn where they’re discussing the ending to the White Witch legend actually gave me the impression that Bianca is in love with Fine (“I love the ending, where she keeps protecting the country for the person she loves even though they’ll never be together. I think that’s what real love is.”).

  4. Izetta is only single human, and they are fragile things… so yeah the threat she is to not! USA is exaggerated… but I would not put beyond this show to nuke Izetta. Burn the witch turned to eleven…
    other than that you should be already used to fanservice, Yuri baiting (Fine looked great dressed as prince…) and awkward spycraft.

  5. If this series had been showing an intention of telling a well-crafted story, I’d ask why the known enemy spy was not only still running around free after he shot a soldier to forcibly reveal secret information, but he’s freely moving about secretly in the old capital where the nation’s most dangerous secret is hidden.

    Really? Why? Isn’t that moment where the spy shoots a soldier to forcibly reveal secret information the one in which you HAVE to act against the spy especially when you just kill the soldier without knowing if he spilled the secret or not? But no, let’s just let him run around to freely associate with whoever he wants… that will go well.

    Oh, wait, I’m not asking. That’s just what this show is. It’s just a series of scenes the writers thought would be “cool” to tell an unrealistic story the writers thought would be “cool” and massive logic black-holes exist because the writers thought it would be “uncool” to work on the “unrealistic” part to actually craft a logically, semi-believable story.

    Fans just want tomboy princesses, explosions, girls kissing, a high innocent people death count, military maneuvers, magical girls, nifty “that was cool!” scenes, mix-up rom com subplots, and “Nobody saw THAT coming (because THAT was a stupid plot direction)!” story development. How cares how the ingredients are stirred together?

    At this point, I’m just watching out of habit. So many things right now to be exasperated about; this show is useful as a harmless luxury for faux outrage release.

  6. Interestingly enough, this is the second time that an apparently abridged plot thread involving Bianca suggests that this series was planned to be 24 episodes but was cut down to 12 (the first was back in episode 4, when she became suspicious of Izetta). The last scene between Bianca and Rickert suggests that she was closer to him than just a couple of travel companions for a few hours–or at most a day or two–, whether you think that was meant to be some sort of romance or Bianca’s protective tendencies manifesting toward an apparently weak but patriot lad.

    Incest Emblem
  7. I… liked the idea with Bianca and Rickert, but I couldn’t be convinced because they didn’t take more than ten minutes to establish it as a doomed *romance* – not even a doomed fancy, because by the end of the episode they were both visibly shaken about it – and because Bianca’s healthy paranoia from the early episodes seemed pushed to the side to enable it even if it didn’t affect her competence. The spy was obviously set up as a very competent sort to be able to evade capture or death until now, but that also didn’t feel exactly right to me. Hmmm. The tweest development with the Altanta embassador also didn’t seem like it actually had a lot of thought put into it. There was too much this episode that came off like that. It was a bit strange how there wasn’t a bigger deal made of the interruption at the party, though at least people acted with suspicion at the time.

    I’d honestly have to say this was one of the weakest episodes so far to me, uplifted solely by dashing Finé and charming Izetta as a pair at the party.

    (Screw the Major for interrupting their imminent dance by the way. But that’s not critique, just commentary.)

  8. Yeah, not the best episode. Agree with Passerby about the captain of the royal guard. She’s ON a freaking mission to catch the one spy they know of who’s been sniffing around the old capital ruins where top-class secrets about Izetta/witches reside.” Yet some literally random guy who seems quite interested in exploring the old castle, discussing witch legends (including one the others have never heard about) raises no suspicion. O.o. Seriously, what would it take – “I’m totally not a spy or anything, but have you heard about any weaknesses or other secrets about Izetta?”

    Speaking of said old castle/ruins (again containing vital state secrets), is it not possible to seal off routes to the ruins? Say even some rebar set in concrete type gates? Something? I also agree with the review about what went down during the ball. No, it’s not “nothing”. You were quite concerned about it literally seconds ago. Raise the damn alarm for starters.

    I’m a bit less charitable than the review about the whole “broken heart” deal. If that was supposed to be some “romance” angle, it failed IMO. Even ignoring the lack of any set up (it’s just thrown in there), I expect some professionalism by the Capt. of the Royal Guard. The end was the worst part. Uh, the guy IS AN ENEMY SPY WHO IS POINTING A GUN AT YOU AND PLANS TO KILL YOU! That, uh, “usually” tends to be a romance killer. Frankly, she should have shot him immediately when he started to raise his gun towards her rather than listen to some death speech. Girl’s lucky the guy has crap aim. Actually, her and her guards should have fired when the two tried to jump down the plot convenient hole in the floor, but hey, gotta move that plot forward.

    Lastly, wasn’t a fan of the “Atlanta” ambassador’s bit at the end. “Equal or greater threat than Germania”? Please. As the review noted, you saw her ONCE when she acted as a good torp bomber, and even then she DID noticeably struggle at times during the battle (the Germania spies picked up on it after all). All I can think of is that they wanted to get “Atlanta” (sorry, but that just gets dumber every time) to get into the war, and don’t want to go Pearl Harbor (what IS the nation of Japan “Kyoto” doing anyway in this story?).

    Perhaps not the worst episode for this show, but a pretty weak one IMO. I really do not want this to be all explosions (e.g. Michael Bay movie), but so far that seems to be what the show does best. :/ I’m not expecting AOTY or even AOTS levels here, but what we’re getting is a bit disappointing after (IMO) a decent start.

    1. Well, what level of professionalism you could expect from some pocket dukedom that had absolutely no conflicts whatsoever probably at least since Bonaparte went into exile? look at the fricking uniforms the Royal Guards wear…
      Rickert’s aim was perfect, he missed on purpose – obviously he knew killing Bianca would serve no gain to the Reich, he liked her personally and wanted to make sure SHE would shoot him instead of capturing him alive for interrogation. Thats level of pro that would be only exceeded by supermen from Joker Game (any one of them would use the occassion to pretend to surrender, feed false info and escape at opportune moment). What I liked about the Germanians was having backup “sleeper” agent that was not known by the main team. Since they did not know about him, they could not compromise him if captured.
      The point about witch being potentially greater threat than Germanians is effect of Isetta purposefully being marketed as “ten feet tall superweapon”. Plus it plays along with probably just the ending that was suggested with alternate ending of the legend… That reminds me of UN storming the NERV base after last angel was defeated – though I hope for less severe ending , maybe Izetta going into exile like Ender after the Xenocide, possibly with princess in tow for the Yuri fans out there…

      1. @Ewok40k: You’re probably right about him wanting to miss on purpose. That being said, she is the captain of the guard in charge of protecting the very popular, motivational head of state (and the last in line AFAIK). So I don’t think you can say killing her has zero value for Germania. Given comment above about how this was planned as 2-cour rather than one, I think the reason is the “romance” between the two this episode hinted at, but IMO failed to substantiate. Pretty sure they were going for a “star-crossed” romance where two on opposing sides fall in love, but are torn between love & duty, etc. etc. Given sufficient time and execution in a 2-cour season, it might have worked fine, but as presented it didn’t IMO.

        “Well, what level of professionalism you could expect from some pocket dukedom that had absolutely no conflicts whatsoever probably at least since Bonaparte went into exile? look at the fricking uniforms the Royal Guards wear…”

        The uniforms are probably traditional, and I don’t see how that’s truly relevant. True, if this was one of the super spies from Joker Game getting captured, feeding false info, then escaping would all be part of the plan. However, there’s a LOT of gray area between the two IMO. Small country or not, that doesn’t mean you can’t be professional and good at your job. I’d expect some level of professionalism from their army, politicians and yes, intel. Intel is a good offset when you can’t afford a huge military budget.

        Frankly, IMO some of this comes down to common sense, and even character consistency. After all, she was much more suspicious of Izetta than some random dude she met. Hell, even mere curiosity. “Been overseas – where?” “Failed the army entrance exam? That’s surprising – you look quite fit to me. What happened?” “What brings you to the old capital?” (there was a comment about how the inn was pretty much empty = few, if any are going to the old capital). Then there’s still him seeming to know more about the witch legends (alternate version) all to be considered in the context of her mission. Don’t need to be a super spy to be suspicious here given the context of her mission.

        As for the “Izetta threat”, I don’t buy that it was due to propaganda efforts. The “Allies” required a demonstration of her power despite all the propaganda efforts and news of victories over Germania. It wasn’t until Izetta sank the CV, that the *sigh* “Atlanta” diplomat freaked out. As noted, she played torp bomber and it wasn’t a flawless execution due to leyline issues. That one bomber even needed to help her out.

        Not only that, if she’s SO powerful, such a threat equal to or more so than the entire nation of Germania, then why the hell is Elystadt so desperately asking for help in the first place? Should be able to handle Germania just fine. Instead, they are begging for help and are absolutely ecstatic when ONE country promises to convince it’s leader to send some undetermined amount of troops. To me, all that contradicts Izetta being some WMD threat to large nations.

      2. That being said, she is the captain of the guard in charge of protecting the very popular, motivational head of state

        Look, why would you shoot so incompetent enemy? Bianca is almost an unwitting asset to Germania…
        She was blinded by her running into him in condition not befitting a superspy. Plus, she was tunnel visioning on capturing the first spy. Pretty much everyone is hyped about Izetta and witches now, so him reading old legends would not be surprising at all, but she failed to check his backstory at all. She was a failure of intelligence officer of a cosmic proportions…

    2. Frankly, she should have shot him immediately when he started to raise his gun towards her rather than listen to some death speech.

      Got to agree. That was really poorly scripted. If they wanted pathos then they should have had her shoot as soon as his arm moved only to find out that it was a flashlight and he was trying to goad her into shooting him.

      The Atlanta ambassador’s letter seems like another “let’s make the Americans (Atlantians really sounds stupid) bad guys too” that shows up a fair amount in anime.

      Frankly, the whole government of Elystadt comes across as if they’re in a very poor Viennese operetta. Müller(?), the intelligence officer, is about the only one who actually knows what he’s doing. Well, the one girl is a good shot, but even when she shot the spy they didn’t keep watch to make sure no one approached the body till they could recover it. They had no idea how many agents there were in the area.

  9. I didn’t get the impression Bianca and Rickert were supposed to be madly in love with each other. Any romance between the two of them was a fleeting possibility. I think their story works best when viewed as a small tragedy rather than a grand tale.


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