「犯人の名前」 (Hannin no Namae)
“The Culprit’s Name”
If ever you needed an example of why anime is art- this episode is it. So much gorgeous art and stylistic framing packed into just 22 minutes- it left me in awe. Everything was just so beautifully done and just when I thought the director outdid himself, the artsyness upped an even further level. Take the confrontation with Louise/Nora/Jutte and Tsugaru with the candles, followed by the stylistic sketches on the dark background.
The episode started out pretty much the way I expected it would, with an all out brawl between the faction, with some epic gun/finger-slinging exchanged between the cowgirl and Alestier. The whole showdown between Camella and Shizuku was simply stunning, the colored fabrics, the white bat wings.
I find the frenemies relationship between Aya’s faction and Professor M’s to have grown quite interesting. Obviously they’re ultimately pitted against each other, but in the present moment, they form a congenial partnership against the more troublesome Royce crew. The whole exchange between Victor and Tsugaru in the end- you could tell there was a bit of a respect between comrades in arms, not something I would have seen coming from the first few episodes. Victor’s invitation to “come and get it back” was very much an invitation to “come on let’s brawl”- I only wish we got a continuation, to see that epicness on screen.
Not to be outdone by the physical action, the intellectual action in solving the mystery held its own with some truly spectacular mental gymnastics that left my brain spinning like a hamster wheel. The culprit turned out to be none other than one of the victims herself- Jutte/Louise/Nora. At one point I had even wondered if those girls were connected, with their similar features, which wasn’t too far from the truth.
In an intellectual feat truly stunning for a 13 year old girl, Jutte left the human village after her mother got roasted by the villagers (the mini skeleton belonging to a hapless fox), joined the werewolf village that kicked her mother out, then kidnapped and impersonated Louise from the human village. The two girls, bonding in a shared hatred of the closed-mindedness of their villages, work together to kill two girls with one bullet, murdering and disfiguring a human girl to then use her body to fake the death of a werewolf girl, thereby allowing the werewolf girl to escape the village’s horrendous practice of turning teen girls into baby making machines for the purpose of birthing a super werewolf.
One question that was never answered and which I am dying to know is, why did Jutte/Nora and the original Louise look so much alike? Surely that’s too much of a coincidence, but there doesn’t seem to have been any biological connection between the two girls (at least from what we’ve been told).
I found the subtle hues to Nora/Louise/Jutte’s character interesting. She wasn’t a killer with a grudge, out for revenge. Rather, grieved by the hostilities of both villages and the werewolf village’s abuse of the teenaged women, she sought a way out for the girls the only way she knew how- murder. Her whole angle of being a killer, but not “that inhumane” of one, only killing when absolutely necessary, was unexpected, added some depth to her. I was totally shocked that the real Louise went along with the plan. After the supposed enmity that was portrayed between the girls from the villagers’ testimony, I was not expecting Louise to be like “yeah, go ahead and kill me, I’ll help you”. But I think it’s beautiful in a way, the comradeship that can be formed between two unlikely parties in the face of oppression.
I loved the underlying message to this arc, of freeing women from their imprisonment, something which Aya understands only too well, and allows the culprit to go free in the end. That granny was the keeper of the cage was pretty spot on as well. Many times (but not always), women can be the keeper of the cages, railing on about tradition and how “pleasant” it is to be in the cage. When the truth is, they’re blinded by their own values, and scared of what’s outside the cage. That Jutte/Nora/Louise recognizes the falsity and the harm in those village values and does something about it is truly brave (not that I condone any sort of killing), speaks to the strength of her character.
What a strong way to end this series- it had me wishing the episode would never end, I was so enthralled in the creator’s story and the director’s vision. The end credits scene was perfect with how smoothly each character got a cameo- it makes me long for this to not be “the end”. I can’t say enough how superb this series was overall- everything was done right, from the intelligent writing and stellar art down to the characters- seeing Aya’s crew week after week made them a truly lovable gang close to my heart. This finale was sure an epic way to finish things off- it somehow managed to top even my over the top expectations for it. There has not been a show quite like Undead Girl before and I doubt there will be one since.