「断頭台のアウラ」 (Dantōdai no Aura)
“Aura the Guillotine”
The B-team took the field for almost all of this episode. But in Sousou no Frieren that’s all relative, as the kids are alright – they pack quite a punch. One can assume that Frieren acted knowing this secondary showdown was going to happen, and she’s a pretty fair judge of relative strength. She must have thought Fern and Stark could take care of Lügner and Linie. Either that, or she felt she had no choice but to leave it in their hands and hope for the best with Aura the Guillotine (Taketatsu Ayana) and her army just outside the city gates.
Aura is Frieren’s opponent for certain – she wouldn’t have it any other way. The secret of her power, Granat tells the kids, is the spell called Scales of Obedience. With it she can weigh her own mana against anyone else’s soul and whoever comes out on top controls the other. That’s risky of course, but in half a millennium she’s yet to lose (I can see where this might be headed). The strong-willed can resist, but only temporarily. And eventually all remain under her power even after their bodies turn to dust. It’s easy to see why Frieren feels Aura must be eliminated.
Stark’s idea is to beg Frieren to come back and fight the demon B-team (he’s unaware of what and who she’s currently facing). But thanks to the blood on their clothes, Lügner and Linie can attack them as soon as they leave to barrier-protected church. That means this fight is on whether Stark wants it or not, and he winds up paired off with Linie while Fern takes on Lügner. And Linie has copied the moves of none other then Stark’s old master, Eisen (small world) which is unsettling to him to say the least.
Fern is wounded in Lügner’s initial attack, but she’s right about his weakness – he’s arrogant and doesn’t consider her (or anyone but Frieren) a threat. His magic is more powerful than Fern’s, and he certainly has more experience. But Fern’s strength is apparently her speed – faster even than Frieren herself. Stark’s strength is what Eisen taught him – as long as you keep getting back up longer than the opponent, you’ll eventually win. Each youngster rides that strength to an eventual win – though Stark especially seems to pay a severe physical price for it.
All this is certainly lovely to look at, the finest work we’ve seen from Madhouse in a good while (not surprising given the staff involved on this series). It’s not the shock and awe of S1 One Punch Man – this is more in the vein of balletic elegance (I was reminded of Gon’s fight with Hisoka at Heaven’s Arena at times). Great choreography and butter-smooth animation is a winning ticket for battle anime, and even if this isn’t where I expect Sousou no Frieren to spend most of its time, it’s nice to know it can deliver the goods when it’s in this mode.
Full-length images: 36.