by Grant Jones,
How would you rate episode 23 of
Back Arrow ?
The Granedger team sets off to talk to God, but first decide to leave behind the villagers so they will be safe. Shu and Kai have a conversation about Arrow on the deck of the ship, and Shu tries to give him a list of policies to enact when he's emperor, but Kai reveals his scar and tells him to do them himself once they beat God. Ren is also nearby, and Kai's inability to understand romance is brought into stark clarity. Soon the ship sets off to confront God.
They push to Epitaph Mountain and encounter none other than Rudolph in his Briheight. He is immortal until the world is destroyed. Rudolph summons the Rondo of Ruin, an object that makes the wall begin to twist and turn inwards, consuming Lingalind from the outside in. He also summons a mighty spear made of human fear and engages the Granedger. A single thrust locks the ship down under a constant electric barrage, allowing him to beam a message to all of Lingalind that they will be dying soon.
The various Brheight forces of Lingalind launch a frontal assault on the giant spinning drill object to no effect. Arrow resigns himself to death, but in that moment, his light dispels the spear. The Granedger blasts Rudolph away, giving them a brief moment to turn their attention towards the Rondo of Ruin. However, Rubdolph returns almost immediately to resume his attack. Kai, Ren, and Arrow team up to launch a boosted Martial Arrow and cast the Rondo of Ruin into the void—but it returns. They finally manage to burst through with a second Martial Arrow and clear a path for themselves and the Granedger to escape. After that, they proceed to destroy all the waiting Rakuhos in the space beyond, attack the holy land, and meet God(?)—a figure who looks like an older Back Arrow, with a matching Briheight.
Back Arrow is reaching its final form. Obviously, if you are familiar with Kazuki Nakashima's other works (such as Gurren Lagann) then this outcome is not all that surprising. It's only a few minutes to midnight at this point, and deicide is on the menu.
This episode serves as both high-energy action climax and audience review in equal measure. We get to see the full breadth of the explosive intensity, metaphysical combat, and vast swathes of characters that the show has built up. For a series that started with such a simple premise and political framework, it's a well-deserved victory lap in my opinion. Back Arrow has shown itself to be a deftly written, solidly-animated production, the kind of super robot show that many often gripe does not get made “these days.” I'm so glad to have been handed this series to review, and even in the unlikely event that it somehow flubs the landing, I find it quite easy to recommend to others.
The speed and quality of the action have not faltered either. The rapid fire conceptual barrage—world-crushing drills, human fear spears, multiple grand combo attacks—continues to impress visually and thematically. And once again I would be remiss if I did not tip my hat to the excellent mecha designs and well-implemented CG action. Studio VOLN has ratcheted way way up my personal list of good studios, and I will eagerly anticipate more computer-generated robot action from them.
Plus, the fact that God and Arrow are twins(s) or some sort of “made in my own image” copies is such a great reveal. Can't wait to see what next week has in store.
Back Arrow is currently streaming on FUNimation Entertainment.
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