「ワン・マン・フォース」 (Wan Man Fousu)
A commenter with apparent knowledge of the source material was wondering, last week, why that episode of FMP! didn’t end with Nami’s death and use it as a cliffhanger. I agree, it would have been highly dramatic and kept us on edge for the entire week. Now that we’ve seen what they did with the scene instead, perhaps we can better analyse why they did it.
Nami’s death was not dramatic. It happened right at the beginning of the episode, with neither buildup nor preamble. Usually in stories, when an important character is killed (and Nami was arguably important, playing deuteragonist while Kaname is away), there is some fuss made over the whole thing. Maybe there’s a period of suffering. Maybe they’ll leave us with some pithy last words. Maybe they go out in a blaze of glory. Not Nami. She isn’t killed so much as executed. Sure, the event was objectively sad, but without drama it’s not tragic. And perhaps that’s the point. In tragedy, in drama, we at least get to vent our emotions. There is catharsis. But not here. This death was senseless. It leaves us unsatisfied. There is no purging of emotions here; rather, we are left with frustration. And that sets the tone for the rest of the episode. If Nami was killed at the end of the last episode, we would have had a week to get over it. Perhaps we would have. Well, no such opportunity here. We are left with our frustration, and our outrage, and our bewilderment at how meaningless Nami’s death was, and go along with Sousuke as he takes out those same emotions on his enemies. In a different context Sousuke taking out an entire cadre of superiorly armed foe would be a triumphant moment, but the thrill of victory is instead replaced with rage and angst and the knowledge that this was all Sousuke’s fault. Way to break it, hero.
Taking the wide view, though, in the greater scheme of the narrative Nami was doomed to die. For one, she was the third wheel, competing for Kaname’s spot when Kaname x Sousuke has been firmly confirmed as the OTP through three seasons of anime. If Tessa is unfavoured then Nami doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell. Yet still she tempted. Unfortuantely for Nami, there is one tried and true to resolve a love triangle quickly and cleanly: murder the hypotenuse. As a bonus, Sousuke also picks up fresh doses of guilt and a vengeance motive to keep him going. As I wrote about last week, Sousuke needs these negative emotions to drive him, and Kurama alludes to as much in his dying moments as well; the power of love can only sustain Sousuke’s solitary crusade for so long. When Kurama killed Nami to goad Sousuke into chasing him, he really was doing the narrative’s work. What a player. Took one for the team.
All in all, though, a lot of crummy feelings this week. Perhaps this may be uncomfortable for some viewers, as one of the highlights of the original FMP!, what gained it such a large audience, was that it was fun. Even in its seriousness it was something of a swashbuckling thriller. I mean, the title has an exclamation mark in it. Now, in Invisible Victory, the punctuation is harder to justify. One of the criticisms of The Second Raid, I think, is that a good portion of it wasn’t much fun. Sousuke moping, wallowing in angst, isn’t fun. And Invisible Victory is much more angst and much less swashbuckling. When I talked about Invisible Victory being a very different kind of FMP!, I meant it. That’s not necessarily a bad. But different.
Speaking of different, what happened to Tessa and Kaname? Can we catch up with them? I could use a diversion right about now.
Full length images: 07.
ED2: 「Remained dream」 by 茅原実里 (Chihara Minori)