「幻界病棟ライゼズ」 (Maboroshi Kai Byoutou Raizezu)
“A Phantom Hospital Ward Rises”
Flashing back to the present.
You have to give it to Kekkai Sensen: it knows how to get us into the story fast. Explanations are for squares, man, just have Zapp gets injured off-screen and BAM! Ghost hospital. Some stories get into trouble because they try to sprint too quickly to the action, but Kekkai Sensen is a master class in getting there quickly without screwing it all up. There are two reasons here. First, the hooks, baby, the hooks. Give us two juicy hooks—what’s with this hospital, and what’s with their chibi doctor?—and you buy yourself time. Second, they went into the slower, character-based stuff immediately afterwards.
I guess the point is to say interesting things. A story full of interesting moments buys itself time to deploy more interesting moments, and how long those moments require to develop really only matters in the order you deploy them. And in plot coherence, I guess, but Kekkai Sensen proves that those rules are made to be bent as well.
Getting to go back to the Great Collapse and see what was going on was fascinating, because, as I said last episode, this is one of those rare series where the world itself is of considerable interest. Better, though, was introducing an adversary that was so clearly taxing for Klaus and Steven to contend with. Either one of these characters can steamroll so many villains that to have them struggle is noteworthy—I found myself remarking with a kind of awe that an enemy they fought during the Great Collapse was more powerful than many they’ve fought since, a sign that they could have been snuffed out before the story even started. It also set up a great ending, showing how much they’ve grown (with the help of their friends) without minimizing the enemy’s power; Klaus only gained 33 seconds, for a total of two minutes and thirteen seconds, after three years of hard fighting. Also, they almost got killed by a building back then too. So this whole story very nearly didn’t happen.
That falling building was an especially good moment, because while we logically know that Klaus and Steven have to survive to the present, it’s dramatic and sudden enough to make us gasp all the same. It’s the action equivalent of a jump scare, not to be overused, but devastatingly effective once in a while.
The star, though, is Luciana Estevez (Sakamoto Maaya). I have a fondness for characters like her, and no, I don’t mean multi-body lolis. Luciana is a worker. She works until she falls asleep on her feet, until she’s on death’s door, and past it, even becoming inhuman for the sake of saving others. I’m lazy, which is a more useful trait than many realize, as I discussed in my latest Yuuki Yuuna post. But I respect the workers, for they can do more than I ever can, if only their bodies can hold up. Luciana’s can, now. Gotta respect that.
Also, there’s the thing where she lured her enemy into a trap and then sliced it up, leaving it strewn into tiny pieces on the ground. Gotta respect her taking the long view, and being ruthless when her enemy was in sight. Getting to hear multiple flavors of Sakamoto Maaya ain’t bad either. It’s very good, actually. That’s the opposite of bad! It’s the best.
- They got shawarma!
My SECOND novel, Freelance Heroics, is available now! (Now in print!) (Also available: Firesign #1 Wage Slave Rebellion.) Sign up for my email list for updates. At stephenwgee.com, I’ve begun blogging again! The latest post: Help Houston.
ED2: 「ステップアップLOVE」 (Step Up LOVE) by DAOKO x Okamura Yasuyuki