Again: I’m baffled here. We all know that the first episodes had problems due to being rushed and all. And so here this episode comes with the main plot of this show and it suddenly becomes incredibly solid. Seriously, this episode was amazing in both its plot and atmosphere, and showed more than ever that Koichi Mashimo isn’t the only big talent that’s walking around in Bee-Train.
I’m really impressed by the plot here, and especially how it focused on just about everyone here: both the main characters and the villains. I just love how this episode tied everything together, the plot is both disturbing, imaginative and deep. And I really have to admit here: the bad guys in this series kick ass. They don’t just look evil, their actions really pack a punch here, from the trauma they inflicted on Yakumo’s mother by first raping her, murdering her boyfriend and then getting her to kill her own son, to recruiting little girls by having them kill off their own family. I also love the subtlety with which Yakumo now remembers his past. He’s obviously silent and introvert, but it’s not like he’s angsting over it either. I also really liked how he as a kid didn’t really like Takeda Shunsuke, and only much later found out that he was dating his mother.
Now, the one point at which I have criticisms of this episode was the way in which Gotou suddenly arrived at exactly the right time behind Miyuki Nanase, but I’ve seen far worse coincidences: Takeda Shunsuke made sure to tell everyone the location of Yakumo, with Gotou using a car with a bit of a delay, he could catch up to Haruka who took the train.
Speaking of which, Haruka again just ran into a situation unprotected, even though Takeda Shunsuke advised her to stay, but for once her actions make sense here: she was being targeted by Miyuki Nanase, and hiding would have actually worked against her favour: Miyuki would have easily captured her, just going to Yakumo would have saved Miyuki the trouble of dragging her over to Nagano, which is why she was left untouched. The way Miyuki was defeated may perhaps been a bit of a cop-out, but really: it was the only way. It’s already been established at this point that she’s completely badass, and that there’s no way that she would have lost in a real fight.
Also, what the hell was up with the animation in this episode? I mean, that’s not Bee-Train. I mean, smooth frame-rates are one thing, but there were tons of shots in this episode which had completely fluent movement, with more frame-rates than I’ve probably ever seen in a Bee-Train series. That scene in which Nanase told about how she murdered her parents was also just amazing: there was a TON of style within just those thirty seconds.
I now understand what this series is doing, and why the first few chapters were so incredibly rushed: they were simply trying to go through those chapters as fast as possible, so that they could put more emphasis on these final few episodes. You know how a lot of series waste too much time on their introductions, so that their endings get rushed? Denyuuden is a good example of that at the moment: it’s currently amazing, but it did take sixteen episodes with a lot of boring build-up to get there. That’s what the creators most likely wanted to avoid here, so for that they had to sacrifice some first impressions due to these rushed chapters.
The current Autumn Season wasn’t the best one for the reputation of series that feature adults as main characters, with Iron Man, Togainu no Chi and Hakuouki with their cheesy stories and characters and in a bit less of a way Panty and Stocking and Arakawa who have their minds in the gutter and riverbed respectively, but at the same time I really appreciate how there still are series like Otome Youkai Zakuro, Kuragehime and Shinrei Tantei Yakumo that try to come with mature storylines that aren’t chockful of teenaged antics. They may have a few cliches, they may be a bit rushed, but they really are the proof that anime hasn’t entirely been taken over by whimsical teenagers.
Rating: *** (Awesome)