「幼女覚醒」 (Youjo Kakusei)
“The Young Girl Awakens”
The penultimate episode arrives with a bang.
I feel like this episode presented interesting possibilities, but a lot of the beat-by-beat decisions by almost every character were so obviously flawed as to make it mildly aggravating rather than compelling. This is best illustrated through a contrast between the roadblocks and decisions of every other character, and then that one scene with Diablo.
It was clear almost immediately that Alicia’s plan was to crack Klem open by making her hate mortals. She all but said so herself. And then every single person played right into her plans, from Saddler being such a willing pawn to Rem making Klem promise not to hurt anyone, only for Alicia to leave Klem to watch Rem’s torture. I know Saddler has no conscience, but to let a child watch a brutal torture? Give me that good old fashioned religion, with long knives and blood flowing for miles. I’d call that cliched too, but it has enough basis in history to ring true. Humans can be cruel, without systems in place to restrain them, and when people get in positions of absolute power … they can be cruel all they want. And they always believe they’re the good guy in the story. It’s no wonder Saddler deluded himself into believing he was godly, even if him believing he was a god himself was to the point of absurdity.
I digress. Everyone played into Alicia’s plans by reacting solely based on the options given to them. Were the options only “Klem kills to free herself and Rem, awakening the Demon Lord” or “Klem goes berserk after witnessing the torture and death of Rem, awakening the Demon Lord”? Of course not. Rem should have chosen a third option (trope!), and gotten Klem to break them out via non-lethal means. (Bust the cage and run away real fast, for example.) Decisions like these can be forgiven if they’re for character reasons, but there’s no character reason for Rem being stupid. (Now, if Shera had been captured, that would have been another matter.) Alicia wrote the script, and nobody bothered to second guess it.
In contrast, the scene where Diablo enters the adventurer’s guild and tries to ask for help is gold. This is a real, true character-based reason for him not being able to do the smart thing, which is ask for help. He’s deeply socially anxious, and in a situation where he sees his Demon Lord act as inappropriate (even if he’s wrong—he just had to say “Rem is in trouble, let’s go!”), he freezes up. This is a characteristic that has been established since moment one, so it standing in his way not only makes total sense, it’s beautifully done. I’m even okay with the random boy having seen Rem, thereby conveniently getting Diablo out of this jam, because we still got the earnest “Thanks” from Diablo, and his guildmates still heard it. It was a lovely scene, and an impediment done right.
Unfortunately, the rest of the episode was just okay. It was fine. Honestly I’m mostly harping on it because it provides such a good example of what works and what doesn’t, which means it’s still fine to watch if you’re not all up in your own head about these things like I am. We ought to demand better from our anime, but as far as it goes, it’s fine. Plus I have a feeling they’re having to rush it along, because there’s only one episode left and they want to get to some kind of resolution before the end of the season. Fair enough, it just doesn’t allow the episode to breathe much.
Next episode will be the final one, so we’ll see how Diablo and co get out of this jam then—and from the looks of it, Diablo is up to the task. Him in that last moment was the second best scene of the week, by the way. Diablo killin’ it. Way to go, NEET boy.
- Also, if Alicia has doubts and backs away from her plan next time, I’ma be annoyed. She has no compunction about delivering Rem to an evil torturer, but quails when Rem reminds her about her lies to everyone? That’s the wrong place for that moment of doubt. She knew what she was doing when she tricked them all along, whereas delivering a good person to pain and torture shouldn’t be easy. Hopefully she doesn’t get a shallow redemption so she can be added to the harem, but this is a harem anime, so…
- You gonna need a resurrection spell for this one, y’all. She’s dead,
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