Oh jeez, two episodes to go. Last episode made me a little worried about this series’ conclusion, but I’ve heard this one steers the focus back onto the family, so that’s a relief. It’s honestly kind of terrifying to me to watch a show as good as this one as it’s airing – as with my OreGairu writeups, I pretty much approach every episode praying “don’t screw up, don’t screw up” to myself. The easiest way for this show to screw up would be for it to forget its own strengths – its careful character focus and ability to build intimate family moments. And it wouldn’t be at all hard for the show to do this – finales naturally tend towards bombast, the original ONA for this series was bombastic as fuck, and the busyness of the conflict with Shrine and need to save the Mirror City could easily overwhelm the small character conflicts the show spent its first six episodes building. To stick the landing, this show will need to avoid indulgence and keep the focus on its fundamental emotional truth. Many shows feature a lot of busy stuff happening – few shows are able to make their events mean something.
3:05 – Ah. That explains a great deal. No wonder he looks younger. Efficient storytelling, too – we need this information, but they both know it, so they fit it in as an offhand jab
3:58 – It’s an interesting argument on the in-universe theological level, since we already know what a whimsical god they actually have – he creates life because he feels like it, and builds worlds that threaten the balance of reality to keep a single family happy and safe
4:07 – “Lord, for sixty-so years I’ve surrendered my love, to emblems of kindness and not the kindness they were emblems of.” It’s a pretty strong argument – the Shrine has built itself around protecting the world their god created, so how can their dogma supersede the will of that god himself? Poignant, too – this is far from a meaningless question in the context of our own world
Oh, here’s where that line’s from, by the way. If you like this show and rock music, you’ll probably like that album – it’s also obsessed with questions of meaning and determined to build its own mythology
4:28 – They’re using these minor characters very well. We’re all careless creations, and they deserve to keep their home as much as anyone
4:44 – Goddamn this show has a good visual aesthetic. This, Kill la Kill, Monogatari, Nagi no Asukara, Kyoukai no Kanata… we’re getting spoiled on the diversity of worlds anime can create
5:04 – This is a very good link. Koto considers herself the girl without a past – well, this world has given her one, and she’s not going to let it be taken away.
It’s pretty funny to see Koto being the adult of the family, here – her father simply rages against Shrine, but she lays out a friggin’ theological argument for the sake of the Mirror City
5:45 – Nice shot
6:33 – The father, the son, and the holy priest? Man, this show is playing fast and loose with its mythologies
7:14 – This is kind of endearingly rambly, though I don’t know if we need this much explanation
8:22 – Not sure Myoe wants to hear this. If his own father was this incapable of handling that responsibility…
8:48 – If you say so!
Oh man, what a mean build that was. Nasty trick, Kyousogiga. What a whimsical, shitty god they have
11:34 – Never really a family man
12:32 – It only gets harder, Myoe
15:01 – And it’s all falling apart. Fortunately, Myoe’s hit his turn – he’s no longer living in the context of his father’s expectations
15:22 – Man this show is pretty
16:37 – Perhaps this is a more extreme case than most, but yeah. Having his parents back was never going to solve anything. The responsibilities they gave him have made him who he is – those can’t just be taken back now. And the expectation that all the loose ends they left you with will somehow be solved by their return echo that childhood inability to see a parent as a flawed human being – their actions have to make sense, so you hope that someday it will all be explained. And then you end up in a cave with your brother at the end of the world, wondering where it all went wrong
16:57 – Pull it together, little brother
17:04 – Graceful way of putting it
19:23 – Well that’s beautiful. As was that scene between Kurama and Myoe – pretty much everything I needed as far as the show’s central arc goes. Gotta grow up sometime
19:49 – More pretty things
20:02 – Great shot transition. Straight from the beautiful panorama of destruction visible to the eye of the distant, uncaring god down to the bleak personal destruction witnessed by the son who must pick up the pieces
20:12 – Echoing her line upon Koto’s first arrival. The beginning and the end
20:28 – She knows what she wants. Now that you’re free, what do you want, Myoe?
22:39 – So yep, they nailed it. Completely – they shifted the Shrine conflict gracefully into Myoe’s personal conflict, and are wringing all the emotional truth they can out of Myoe’s acceptance of his own responsibility and desires. Beautiful stuff
That was an episode! Man, parents sure are good at fucking up their kids. Decking them in expectations and responsibilities, leaving them no room to make a coherent, independent self… we’ve got a whole lineage of fuckups here. The old Monk/God, breaking his father’s toys and generally acting like a selfish child… and our put-upon Myoe, eternally hoping the return of his deadbeat dad might lend some meaning to his life. But you’ve got to find your own meaning, of course, and your parents’ expectations often don’t make that journey any easier. Fortunately Myoe’s siblings are a little better at aiming him in the right direction.
Yep, totally satisfied with that one. It completely dodged the problems I was worried about, honed in on the show’s core emotional conflicts, and even neatly tied the old Monk/God’s motivations into the show’s central questions about family and the weight of expectation. Looks like this show can successfully juggle all its ideas after all!