And we’re back. Last episode was quite an upset – plot-wise and direction-wise, I thought it was actually pretty fantastic. Atmospheric, creative, full of nice little details… on its own, I felt it was a very strong episode. That said, I’m pretty much never a fan of this “care about characters in retrospect” style of reveal – of all the things to keep as a secret, I think “the reason you should be invested in what’s happening” is about the worst possible choice. Felt it was a bad choice in Fate/Zero (I found that show’s entire first half pretty much emotionally sterile, and scattering the events of the longer flashback sequence from season 2 throughout would have probably fixed that entirely), felt it was a bad choice here. The only way I feel it can work is if you’re already invested in the characters involved – and that not being the case here was pretty much the fatal flaw for what was in the abstract an extremely compelling episode.
But negativity aside, great direction and smart storytelling are nothing to sneeze at, and last episode had plenty of those. I’ve also heard this episode has animation out to here, so that should be fun. Let’s get to it!
0:18 – Silence is a very powerful effect! It can create tension like few other tools, and fits very naturally with this snowy landscape. It feels like this show got very confident very quickly
0:55 – A great image. Things are getting serious(er)!
1:30 – …still not really getting much from this ‘embodiment of human hatred’ stuff. But hey, hipster dude can have his fun
3:17 – One question answered. Akihito has lost virtually all his Dark Flame Master powers
4:29 – This was a thing? I thought he just had Much Style
5:30 – Another shot of this wonderfully cluttered interior. Obviously what a spirt-gem-vendor’s house should look like
6:31 – OH SHIIIIIII
6:34 – That KyoAni color palette. This show sure loves its pinks and oranges. The entire thing is Mirai-colored
6:55 – Again… sure, whatever. Making vague allusions to human hatred two or three times in a show does not a theme make – and if this is just pure fantasy exposition, then hand me the remote
This is actual foreshadowing, though, so that’s fine. Big reveal coming when mom comes back, I’m sure
7:49 – Does it make me a bad person that I pretty much never find these speeches at all compelling? Look. Dude. She had two choices. She gave that choice away, leaving it basically up to fate. I know you’re all pissy because your girlfriend chose to save you, but somebody had to bite the bullet here. It’s like that one dude in the zombie movie who, when the whole cast is all nice and secure in their fortress, just has to open the fucking gate to let in one more person, because “they’re not infected! you’re all monsters for not saving them!” In my zombie movie, that guy gets tied up and tossed overboard. NO HEROES
9:51 – Ooh, I like this one too
11:06 – This is working pretty well. The “by the time you read this” is a classic trick, and I don’t think they’re overplaying it. This episode also built the drama in the right direction – a slice of Mirai’s struggle at the beginning, hugging close to Akihito as he struggles to come to terms with her death, and then this when we’re closest to his headspace. Much more emotionally effective than last episode
11:54 – Mirai’s up to some crazy shit. Kinda funny that KyoAni just tosses off this insane action sequence in the backdrop here
12:17 – Oh screw you KyoAni. I do like us just getting the back of Akihito as he cries here – no need to oversell this
12:45 – Is he… is he doing a cackling villain monologue directly to the audience? That’s… that’s so absurd I can’t even complain about it
13:29 – AHAHAHahahaHahAHaHAH
13:34 – KUKUKUKU
13:49 – KITTY NO. This show has gone too far!
14:36 – Jeez. Whole bunch of sweet little action sequences this episode
16:48 – Woop, mom’s back
17:32 – This is quite the time for a gag
19:08 – Pretty
19:18 – Another mystery solved! Pretty random solution, though
19:47 – KyoAni calling their own sequels. Cheeky bastards
21:05 – Friggin’ fantastic use of the OP here. This sequence is fantastically directed, too – lots of energy, building the tension perfectly. No complaints
21:43 – Yep, great work in general here
Damn! Another extremely strong episode. That finale bit there was thrilling – one of the best sequences of the season, I’d say. At this point, it just kinda sucks for me that I’m not invested, because I’m certainly impressed by most of the things the show has done the last couple episodes. The way they’ve set up this whole fantasy scenario seems pretty arbitrary to me, but the individual scenes they’re resolving it with are excellent on the visual/direction level. Kyoukai no Kanata may not have ultimately “worked” for me, but it’s finishing stronger than I could have imagined.