OP2: 「ハナコトバ」 (Hanakotoba) by Terui Haruka, Mimori Suzuko, Uchida Yumi, Kurosawa Tomoyo, Nagatsuma Juri, Hanazawa Kana
This episode packed a whole lot of happenings in a 24-minute package, and I oscillated wildly between ecstatically pleased and thoroughly bewildered. Most of the episode was spent in the former camp, which is good! But a few events definitely earned the latter. Let’s talk about them all.
The change I liked was the Taisha (Amnesty) not being the assholes for once—for as long as that lasted. Though they were less of assholes this time, which is at least a good change. It’s still their damn fault that someone had to sacrifice themselves, or at least that Tougou was asked (sensei, whyyyyy), but at least this time they weren’t hiding anything (though they apparently still didn’t tell Tougou’s friends, and they also didn’t plan to pull Tougou out of there once her sacrifice was done, even if she wasn’t dead, so still. They assholes). This time it was Tougou who prayed for everyone to forget, so her friends wouldn’t do exactly what they did, because she feared for their safety, which is probably going to end up being a well founded fear. I was enjoying this even more early on when it looked like the Taisha might have had no role in the proceedings, but once we saw that Mimori’s phone was gone, that became unlikely.
What I definitely loved is how the girls were doing all this because they chose to this time, as opposed to being chosen to do it. Literally no one asked them to save Tougou; no one would have even remembered that Tougou needed saving, had it not been for them. No matter how often they say “We didn’t have a choice”—a phrase I will forever hate, because they did have a choice, even if the options they had through their original adventures were all shite—this is them actively being heroes, rather than accepting a mantle forced upon them. I like that much better, and it changes the tone. Now it’s about their actions and the consequences, rather than them dealing with the consequences of other’s decisions.
(Mostly. See: Taisha, still assholes.)
I’m also really jiving on the new Hero System, because it changes the tactical contours. If this isn’t going to be a pain carousel anymore, and if the heroes are going to take their own actions to effect the plot, then making the system clear and understandable but limiting is much better. Now they’re deciding between power and durability, and it reveals character in the decision that Sonoko makes. (Yuuna too, but more so with Sonoko since she leaped to Mankai.) It’s also undeniably powerful when you see the flowers ticking down, and know that if Yuuna doesn’t get through it soon, she’s going to die—and will be even more powerful in an outright fight, where she could possibly do something extra to effect her chances, rather than just plummeting down a black hole and holding on.
This all fell apart in the maelstrom, when it wasn’t clear what the rules were, and what Yuuna needed to do to save her abandoned princess. How could she even be sure that pulling Tougou out of the mirror would save her? The one saving grace: the dread that symbol on Yuuna’s chest instills in the viewer. Shouldering the burden on behalf of her friends is very on brand for Yuuna, and more the role I expected her to play. Which will likely mean that she’ll be back at the center of the struggle for the final four episodes.
The cringe-worthy stuff was all in the exposition in the hospital room, where they explained that the fire had already been stabilized because Tougou sacrificed a fatal amount of life force, but it’s okay because she’s tough so she’s alive. What is this crap!? (╯°□°）╯︵ ┻━┻ It has hand wave/deus ex machina written all over it. It would have been better if the Taisha had admitted that they didn’t know, and guessed at those reasons, because in reality it was something to do with that symbol on Yuuna’s chest that made it enough—but I don’t know where that symbol is going to go, so maybe that wouldn’t fly. Still, while it’s clear this whole issue was mostly to put Yuuna in the peril she’ll soon (assumedly) find herself in, this was some Grade A bullshit. Try harder.
The rest of the episode really was good, even if they almost threw it at the end there, only to stick the landing with the cliffhanger. Short of the third episode going in the toilet, I’ll probably blog the remainder of this series. I’ve flirted with blogging Yuuki Yuuna for years now, so I might as well make it so. I’m interested to see where this is going.
- Another element that helped this episode, and then almost derailed it with the hand-waving exposition excuses: it moved fast. Which was good for much of it! I didn’t expect them to quickly realize the key possibility that accounted for both (A) Tougou’s location, and (B) Tougou currently being alive (she coulda been dead, yo), so I was pleased that they went straight for the celestial outside. It probably led to those crappy excuses though, when the writers were clearly like, “I dunno, make some excuses, this isn’t important LET’S GET ONTO THE GOOD STUFF!”
- Humor is still spot on, of course. See: d’aaaaww / laaaawl.
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ED: 「勇者たちのララバイ」 (Yuusha-tachi no Lullaby) by Terui Haruka, Mimori Suzuko, Uchida Yumi, Kurosawa Tomoyo, Nagatsuma Juri, Hanazawa Kana