OK, I admit I’m a little confused by what happened at the end there. But we’ll get to that soon enough – a lot went down before we got to that point. For me the big positive here is that the big climax happened in then penultimate episode and not the finale. This is a big pet peeve of mine, but it especially applies to two-cour series – always give yourself time for a denouement. When you spend six months with a group of characters, it’s infuriating to have the action finale take place at the literal end of the series. Audiences need the chance to look back, reflect, and move on along with the characters. So kudos to Summertime Render for (apparently) getting that right.
All that requires that we get Shide out of the way this week. He is, as he so fondly refers to himself, the final boss. I saw some grousing about his motivation in certain circles, but it kind of makes sense for me. He’s completely driven by ego. He hung around for 326 years by switching bodies, hoping to live effectively forever and see the end of all things. When he realized that wasn’t going to be possible thanks to Hiruko, he decided to just move the end up to this lifetime so he could see it anyway. If I can’t live no one else should be able to either, in effect. That’s pretty solid villainy to me.
Shide seems thoroughly on the ascendancy in this final showdown with Shinpei, but there are basically two wild cards left for the good guys to play. First, Shinpei’s idea to have Ryuunosuke take over Shide’s shadow armor and keep him from moving. A very good idea – not surprisingly, Hizuru already had it once. The other is Ushio’s notion to turn herself into a shotgun shell so she can be fired into Shide’s body and hack-erase it. The problem is it takes two minutes for her to do that (naturally) and two minutes as this battle is going might as well be a century.
Shinpei willingly enough lets Ryuunosuke-kun go all-out with his body, reasoning that there’s no reason to hold anything in reserve at this point. But soon enough severed arms are raining like cats and dogs and Shinpei and Ryuunosuke are on their last legs. The armor plan sort of works, but only for a few moments, and Shide ejects Ryuunosuke and nails him to the ground. That would appear to be game over as there’s no way Shinpei can reach the gun before Shide even though two minutes have passed, but (and I’m not exactly clear on how this works) Haine is seemingly able to jump the shotgun (well, it is a shadow after all) into Shinpei’s hand
What happens next seems pretty straightforward – Ushio’s plan works, and once inside Shide she hacks him and in the process kills his original body (presumably back in the human realm). But after that, things get a little fuzzy for me…
- Seemingly, Hiruko zaps Shinpei, Haine, Ryuunosuke and Ushio back to 1732.
- Hiruko’s plan is to destroy her original body (in the whale) and thus, erase the history that led to the timeline we know and love. Is this basically a form of repentance on her part?
- The act of erasing Hiruko’s original body causes shadows Haine, Ushio, and Ryuunosuke to disappear. But before she disappears Ushio manages to leap back to 2018 and imprint her memories to Shinpei on the ferry. Shinpei wakes up between two mountains, as he did in the premiere.
Even if we stipulate to all that, some explanation would still be required – not least how Ushio was able to do that in the first place. Hizuru being alive confirms this is a different timeline. But if Hizuru is still alive, it’s presumably because the whole shadow thing never happened – and in theory that would mean Ushio (and Ryuunosuke, among others – even Nezu’s wife and Shinpei’s parents) would be too. And if Ushio is still alive for that reason, why would Shinpei be travelling back to Hitogashima in the first place? And why does he still have one weird eye?
I honestly have no idea how much of that is actually going to be cleared up next week, and how much we’re going to be expected to just accept. I’d kind of like this to all make sense because, generally speaking, Summertime Render has done a good job of holding the logic together. But even if we don’t get full disclosure I’m still thrilled that the finale is apparently going to be mostly given over to the characters moving on with their lives, because that should always – always – happen in a series like this one. It hasn’t made many mistakes so far, so I’m fully expecting the final episode to stick the landing.