Last Exile 20 (or 22) overcomes the problems the show has developed by giving us terrific action. We’ve pretty much had our moral issues discussed. It’s time for the fighting!
Okay, though this show has been something of a letdown with its clumsy storytelling (and that happens in this episode as well), it’s handled the issues fairly well. We’re not talking about simply good vs. bad here. Sadri, the one general still actively supporting Luscinia, knows something about Fam, and even if he didn’t you can tell the man is simply doing his duty. Meanwhile we have turncoat generals reuniting (Sorush’s return was one of the bits of clumsy storytelling I was talking about, as is the Anatory guy), and most of all Dian, who murdered Millia’s sister, and is now asked by Millia to lead the vanships against the Grand Exile. This is not a question of forgiveness, but of necessity, yet it’s the kind of reaching out to enemies that defines Sara’s view of peace as opposed to Luscinia’s concept of peace through conquest. Millia puts it into practice, though the reality is that it must be killing her.
But enough about moral complexity and peace. Time for the fighting. We start with everyone who can still fly going to what’s left of Glacies, where Luscinia has taken Sara, to revive the Exile there. Millia changes into commander duds and leads the assault as if she had been doing this all her life. A little ridiculous; maybe it’s part of that power she inherited from Lilliana. Lots of shots of her and other commanders giving sweeping instructions mixed in with the actual combat, most of it hard to discern through the blizzard. Pretty lousy conditions to place a final battle, surely Gonzo could have worked it so it happened in a place with more visibility. You never see this problem in Rinne no Lagrange. Never mind. The battle is big and grand, and we can see enough to know when one of the Exiles snake things takes out a warship. Luscinia prepares an Exile attack on distant Turan, just to shit on them, I guess, in case you didn’t already think he was a total bastard, but Millia, with Dio’s help, starts to glow and soon its Exile vs. Exile. Stalemate. There’s a chess term they haven’t used!
Visibility gets better when the vanships get through a hole in the Exile (which seems pretty fragile when attacked, really. Maybe that’s Sara’s doing) and we get some of the show’s best visual effects yet, as Fam and Dian pilot their vanships through huge open spaces and tiny conduits, encountering star-shaped enemy ships we saw in the previous series, the first time I remember seeing them this series. Maybe not, but anyway, they brought to me a rush of recognition and dread. It’s one good moment after another until they reach Luscinia and Sara … and of course the episode ends. But it was a good one. Fam, our hero, is brought back into the action, and the action is good throughout. I hope the series can conclude with such a positive effort.
Black Rock Shooter ends with the feeling I’ve had for awhile that there was less here than meets the eye. In the conclusion we catch up with Strength beating the crap out of BRS, until Yuu (okay, actually strength) decides enough is enough and decides to off herself by jumping into a big hole, meaning Yuu (the real Yuu, posing as Strength) would return to the real world, which she doesn’t want to do, because it’s scary up there. Much better to be a nearly invincible weapon of death down here. I can’t blame her for that. And, in some fashion I can’t now remember, Mato finds herself in BRS form facing BRS, who proceeds to beat the crap out of HER, because Mato won’t fight back, because she doesn’t want to inflict pain and doesn’t want anyone to take her pain for her. Well and good, but then the show veers into overly simple homilies about how you can’t feel pain without hurting others. And here’s where the show has never worked. You could argue that these are young girls and so the words are on their level, but that makes them imprecise and often wrong. In the end they salvage it with the thought that you can’t truly live without experiencing the bad as well as the good–something Strength apparently picked up in the Real World, but it’s hardly a profound statement. Well, no one watched this show for the philosophy. You might have watched it to see how the girls all ended up, and that ending is satisfactory. Or more likely you watched it because you wanted to watch cool figures fighting epic duels, and there the show succeeds. Too bad they couldn’t find a story worthy of the fighting.
Thinking about Amagami SS Plus 12, I wonder if all the Morishima girls used the same cheap trick to get their guys to propose to them, letting on that they’re going away after graduation in order to hasten the boy’s marriage proposal. Be fair, this was Jessica Sexy Morishima’s sneaky trick, not Haruka’s, though I wonder if Haruka wouldn’t actually approve. No matter. It spiced up the episode nicely. Up to about halfway it was simple domestic games and Junichi’s little fantasies … and annoying “She’s in the bath, what should I do?” moments that went on too long. Junichi learning about Haruka’s leaving would have been just as bad, but they gave us little comic bits to help out. But I knew things would liven up at the graduation scene. I knew Junichi would do something completely foolish and probably triumph with it. I didn’t expect Haruka’s amazing leap to the podium, but who did? And with that leap, the Haruka arc reclaimed its position at the top of the Amagami sequel. Next week’s girls-only onsen episode will appeal to some fans, I’m sure, but I wonder how much I’ll like it without Junichi anchoring the show. On the other hand, we’ll get a lot of Miya.
As for Inu x Boku SS 11, I can’t say I was surprised by the supposed secret Soushi’s been keeping from Ririchiyo all these years, especially since it was there on Wikipedia when I’d go to get a character name right. In fact all through episode 11, the long story of Soushi’s emotional rescue at her hands, I kept wondering why Ririchihiyo could ever think Kagerou could write such letters anyway. On the other hand that doesn’t mean she knew Soushi wrote them. The long flashback, NOT a confession as I first thought, went on and on, but the more I watched the more I decided it was the proper length to show Ririchiyo’s constricted upbringing, the scheming, soulless young man he became because of it, and his gradual transformation while impersonating Kagerou in his letters. I’m hoping the actual fallout from the confession next episode will be as elegant. And I rather like Kagerou this episode (for once). You get the idea that he forced the truth out both because it would be fun, and because he wants Soushi to succeed, a bit of decency amidst the narcissism.