Will the finale cram in the last bit of despair it can muster or deliver a major catharsis?
What They Say:
Since ancient times long past, this world has been ruled by two tarot cards. Diablos Tarot—The tarot of the devil that feasts on the souls of living humans and uses that nourishment to bring countless pain and suffering. Elemental Tarot—The tarot that draws its energy from the power of nature in order to oppose the Diablos Tarot.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The end has come. It’s only a single cour (quarter of a year), which is as short as a TV series can get, but with 13 episodes it’s still on the longer side of one-cour series by a tiny bit, and even with so much inevitably left unexplained in the end, it still feels like this was a long time coming. The despair has been ramping up over the past few episodes, with some notable bits of hope finding their way in to imply the possibility of a happy ending after all. The finale could’ve been an utter disaster like nothing this show has ever done or an incredibly satisfying culmination of everything the show has set up by this point, but instead it’s just very straightforward and expected given what’s happened before it, a remarkably unremarkable way to wrap this all up.
Have no doubt that the show spared no expenses in getting just a little more despair into the finale before starting on its much happier ending. It serves it purpose well enough and I can’t say it would’ve worked better without it, but at this point you’re likely have more of an “okay, we get it, let’s move on already” reaction than anything else. But with this being the finale, naturally it is the time for them to move on, and they do so with a standard climactic final battle. It’s nothing special, but at least it’s something slightly different. Of course, it plays out as predictably as everything else, and you’ll see every aspect of it coming from a mile away. With the penultimate episode lacking the opening theme and this finale also foregoing it for more content time, I was glad to at least get to hear it one final time during this battle. Yes, that’s a very common trope in anime as well, but it makes the scene much more enjoyable, which matters most in this case.
Akari gets to release all the built-up angst from being tortured by Cerebrum throughout the beginning of this episode, the entirety of the previous one, and much of the earlier part of the series less directly by going all out and kicking some major ass. Even if you don’t care about the characters or the story and are less than impressed with the unoriginality and uncreative presentation right to the end, any fan of a good action scene should be able to appreciate at least a few minutes of this episode to some extent. And if you’ve made it this far, you’ll probably get more out of it than just that anyway. While the visuals aren’t all that impressive and are constantly hindered by the ugly designs and increasingly more prevalent production problems, the action still has some kick, and even before the opening theme starts, some of the pieces of music continue to enhance these scenes well enough.
With the series ending by putting the girls on the track to a new beginning, and with so much of the plot that’s already been established left almost entirely untouched, it seems tailor-made for a second season. It’s probably rather obvious that I’m not exactly chomping at the bit for another cour or more of this series, even if it would validate some of this first season by following through on some of the things it set up. Unsurprisingly the series doesn’t seem to be lighting the world on fire, so a second season seems unlikely anyway, and I’d say it’s probably for the best that this property be put to rest and forgotten about. There will be a bonus episode taking place after the series that will be released on the final Japanese volume at the end of the year, but it’s unlikely that it will provide much insight into these matters, and will likely just be some kind of fun throwaway episode that really doesn’t fit this show given what it’s been trying to do.
In fact, there’s even less explained than what would seem the bare minimum. It was pretty clear that there wasn’t enough time to reveal who the one seemingly controlling both the “good” and “evil” sides from the highest level was, but even with Cerebrum’s obvious defeat, we don’t learn nearly as much as him as we should at the end of a series in which he’s been the driving force. I was a little worried about Ginka’s return being left similarly unexplained, but at least they managed to cover that, as uninteresting and contrived as it turned out to be. There is some insight into Cerebrum’s motives offered, but even that was very vague, and it’s still less than deserved given his importance. Could they touch upon this in an unlikely second season? Sure, but it doesn’t seem like it would fit with the new plot that season would end up focusing on, after soundly dealing with Cerebrum once and for all in the first one.
So was it a happy ending? Sure, maybe more than the writing really warranted. Akari gets to understand Fuyuna’s feeling before escaping from her torture and dealing with Cerebrum, and everything basically works out. It’s just too bad the writing couldn’t express it more eloquently.
So all in all, is this worth watching? Well, a C- isn’t a grade that I would give to something I’d recommend, but it’s not the worst, either. What it basically comes down to is… why settle for this level of disappointing mediocrity? You want something similar? Go with Madoka if you haven’t already; everything this show does remotely competently and much of what it fails at spectacularly Madoka delivers brilliantly. It’s now even in movie form for a quicker watch that doesn’t lose its impact for the most part. You want that great opening theme? Well you can just buy it from iTunes, thanks to Aniplex’s hardcore promotion of LiSA, along with the rest of her music (most of which you can also get the physical CDs of in America). If you want some LiSA in your actual anime, go with Fate/Zero; it’s also worlds better than this in every way. In fact, if you want to support Aniplex of America, who’s bringing this series to you, both of those are available both streaming and on home video from that very company, and both happen to offer the amazing writing of Gen Urobuchi and the amazing music of Yuki Kajiura, two things that this show couldn’t hold a candle to. If you want something from this season… well I’m watching almost everything this season, and this is the worst thing I stuck with by far. And really, in a season with Attack on Titan, that shouldn’t be a question at all.
Streamed By: Crunchyroll
Custom-Built PC, 27” 1080p HDTV.