「それぞれの選択」 (Sorezore no Sentaku)
This show is such a work of art, truly. It’s a testament to what can happen in animation when talented people are given the freedom and space to bring their vision to fruition. It’s also, unfortunately, a reminder of how rarely that happens in anime these days – even something as triumphant as Chikyuugai Shounen Shoujo was only a portion of the story Iso Mitsuo originally wanted to tell. More often than not when we do see a really realized project like this – “art for art’s sake” – it comes from a studio like Bones (Mob Psycho 100) or I.G., which exist as a sort of gated community in the richest part of anime town.
There’s a powerful impact when really brilliant writing is paired with cracking production like this. This is a brutal, unsparing arc Ishiguro has created here, and the emotions run very deep. An adaptation can literally take from the page to the screen, panel by panel. But this one uses the weapons at its disposal to make the emotions that much more real. For Maru, especially, this is a very traumatic chain of events, and the adaptation communicates that more clearly even than the manga does. Not with dialogue, but imagery.
As a rock (or a pair of them) fans the flames of conflict between the Immortal Order and Liviuman, Usami (Takeuchi Shunsuke) leads Maru and Kiruko to the patient behind the curtain. Indeed, it’s a terrifying sight, much as Mizuhashi described it. But as Usami explains,this is all to keep the patient from turning into a monster like the ones in the parking garage – because as hinted previously, maneaters are former humans (or at least they look human) fallen victim to a disease with no cure. Usami has kept this girl alive through these extreme measures because if she succumbed to the disease, she would turn into a maneater.
Does Usami realize how terrible a burden he’s asking Maru to bear here? I suspect he does, but is beyond caring about such things – desperate for this to end, however it might be possible. The girl can communicate via tablet, and her wish is to see the sky one last time – something Maru and Kiruko insist be honored before he’ll consider Usami’s request. Nevertheless, Maru is just a child, and a kind-hearted one at that. For him, he’s taking the life of a human being, and nothing can change that fact. The way this sequence is drawn and animated communicates the turmoil in him so beautifully it alone almost moves you to tears.
The girl’s final message offers some solace at least, to both Maru and Usami (and clarifies the lengths Usami went to for her). Their leader supposedly killed in the rock skirmish, the Liviuman march on the clinic, forcing the patients and carers to flee. Usami promises to follow once he’s given the girl – her name now revealed to be Hoshio – a proper burial. But he has other plans, seeing no purpose in fighting on now that his great task has been discharged. For Maru this is not an option – he must soldier on, and Kiruko must support him in times like this.
It’s very clear that all was not as it seemed to be with these two opposing forces, and the aftermath of the Order’s retreat makes them crystal clear. For Liviuman, it appears that karma may prove to be a bitch. Kiruko’s search for info on the Doctor proves fruitless, but the other photo is recognized by the Order’s survivors – as “Inazaki-sensei”. If Robin is alive, Kiruko is determined to find him, no matter how painful that is to Maru, no matter how much pain he’s already in. Finally, as has often been the case, we have a cryptic epilogue after the ED. Mimihime’s dream is clearly significant in some way, though it’s left open to interpretation at this point just what that is.