「追憶の献花」 (Tsuioku no Kenka)
“Flowers Offered in Recollection”
Well, I guess that was something? After last week I think we can sum this episode up as this season’s OVA since nothing really new or stupendous transpired. Indeed outside of filler recaps it was all pretty faces and fleshing out details. Got some more chibi Raphtalia shenanigans; Kizuna found that Wilson makes for a great friend; and, oh yes, even had some Ost to round out affairs. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t chuckle or smile in parts, but in reality this episode was something ideally broken up and better placed earlier in the season – and if that isn’t a succinct summary I don’t know what is. Onto those impressions.
There’s only one way to sum Tate no Yuusha’s sequel up: disappointing. This season followed in the wake of a very successful two cour affair, an initial offering which featured both decent characters, suitable development, and a frankly well-executed switch from revenge into more nuanced growth over its course. For its warts it was a hallmark of what isekai can do in the right hands – and a prime example of where this season fell on its face. In short Tate no Yuusha took everything it initially did correct, and threw it right out the window.
The main fault plaguing this sequel is a combination of pacing and source material cutting. Besides the usual rushing which sadly features among many adaptations these days, various characters both new and old saw minimal screentime and even more negligible growth accompanying what they did receive. Key examples here are Ost and the antagonist Kyo (especially Kyo), but even the likes of Raphtalia weren’t immune from the slashing and burning. The result was a serious degree of skin-deep developments which had no real narrative teeth. Ost and the Spirit Tortoise? Effectively another monster of the week scenario. Kyo, his compatriots, and his backstory? Barely even saw time enough to show them off. And don’t get me started on how key developments for Naofumi’s party which were fleshed out over several episodes before now got condensed into mere minutes. Coupled with how liberal the anime-original changes wound up being and a lot of what worked best in this season’s two arcs was buried under the many failures. No matter the fan consensus on these arcs beforehand, there’s no denying they could’ve been handled better.
Particularly hurting in regards to the above too is the final result after everything: nothing really changed. A commenter a couple weeks back summed it up in that nothing happened this season and in hindsight it’s arguably the best description. Whereas before we got to see Naofumi develop from a rightfully spiteful kid angry at his circumstances into a true and caring hero, this season we got, well, an armour update and Raphtalia getting a new sword? It hearkens back to the aforementioned pacing problems because there were critical developments and key changes for major characters, but they got quickly lost in the face of the next weekly shiny. Hell I’m on record as saying Kyo would’ve made for an excellent villain, if the writers had so much as given some extra time to highlight his mentality and drive. If the slow and methodical development featuring for Naofumi’s fellow heroes last time had been done here with Kyo, a lot of this season’s troubles would likely have been mitigated. If anything it shows a single season wasn’t enough for the material at hand and that at least another 4-6 episodes was required to properly flesh things out. Just another example of how adaptations can lose the plot in face of production committee goals.
With all that said though, this season is admittedly not the last of Tate no Yuusha so it shall be interesting seeing just what happens once season three sees the light of day. Will it emulate this one in flaunting all the worst aspects of marketing first, storytelling second adaptations? Or will we see a return to what made the first season such a success? I really have no damn clue, but I sincerely hope a redemption is in store for this series as leaving off on such a sour note would be a serious disappointment. We’ll just have to hope the wait proves worth it when round three finally rolls around.