Battle Game in 5 Seconds
by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 12 of
Battle Game in 5 Seconds ?
If you needed any further codification of how inconsequential so much of this stretch of Battle Game in 5 Seconds has felt, consider this: Around the climax of this episode it's casually revealed that Team Green leader Shirasagi, who seemed to be flippantly killed off a couple episodes ago, has actually apparently been just fine this entire time! Momoko's cannon seemingly only grazed him, and he's been hanging out, recuperating just off-camera since then. No allusion is made to the point that several people thought he was dead, how that factored into their plans before this- We barely clock any remaining time with the others of Team Green after all is said and done. Just one more simple "Oh, okay" in a story propelled by such movements it constantly seems to want to just move on from. I guess this is where we end up when the series tells us how long it expects to be able to hold our attention right there in the title.
That overall, seemingly unintentional theme of the characters' actions and efforts not really mattering apart from generating base story momentum permeates every aspect of this finale. After an earnest, if ineffectual, effort at comparing Oogami's tragic upbringing to Yuuri's for some sort of cross-side sympathy points, she doesn't even end up being the one to defeat him. The last-minute complications laid out by Kuroiwa necessitate Akira stepping in to take down the horrific CGI golem (something a flashback assures us he somehow managed to plan for every step of), with both of the Team Red brothers seemingly dead by the end with little in the way of characteristic revelation. It's not even there to provide development for Yuuri, as she's assured in her protective convictions from the beginning, and is pointedly trying to use her fistfight with Oogami to impart healthier coping mechanisms onto him, but she ends up knocked out of the fight before that can do much more than distract the big lug.
Meanwhile, Akira's more empathetic growth into the idea of genuine camaraderie and teamwork ends up manifesting entirely in the form of him darting to Yuuri's rescue at the end here. There's a basic acknowledgement of him actually caring for her as a person, which also gets followed up on in the episode's coda. However, the mechanical setup of the moment is entirely about simply having Yuuri around Akira so she can use the ill-defined power-belief system to will a last-minute Kaoi-ken Times-Ten buff onto him so he can win the day. That's a frustratingly simple miss, since the entire point of the trumped-up conflict between Akira and Yuuri at this stage was her rightfully worried that he was only using her as a 'tool' to fulfill the particular role of powering his abilities. So to have her do only that after all doesn't exactly speak to any kind of corrective understanding besides "Yuuri learned to just do whatever Akira tells her to so he can always win in the end". How resonant.
Granted, Akira does end up getting owned after all for his efforts by the end, so I can appreciate Battle Game for including that. I was actually ready to chalk the way the writing had seemed to just completely forget about Team Blue up to the series being…itself. But then Omoto suddenly appeared and made clear the story had always meant to keep him in the back-pocket for the next phase. And after all my complaints in the prior episode about how agonizing the explanations of the various schemes were, it was appreciable to see Akira's over-thinking of a way to immediately try and counter Omoto being what did him in. On that note, can I throw out just one more plot-twist prediction here at the end, and say I'm pretty sure Omoto has the same 'Sophist' ability Akira has? Everything about the setup points to him using the same kind of mind games Akira had to deploy in order to activate his own cannon originally, and the fact that Omoto managed it more smoothly and efficiently than our lead just makes me want to root for this new rival even more. Even as I sit here massively unsure of how likely a followup to this mess of an anime project would be.
That's almost unfortunate at the very end here, since as ambivalent as I've been about Battle Game, the final change-up it drops to tease its next phase does pique my interest. Granted, Akira and the others waking back up in 'their' world does continue that theme of inconsequence that I was so frustrated by in the rest of this episode. Not only does it nullify a lot of the odd afterlife speculation the early phases of the story were rife with, they actually completely forget to focus on what should be the most key parts of this homecoming. That is, after all the buildup of Yuuri wanting to return to her life and the supposed connection she felt with Oogami over specifically wanting to ensure the safety of her adopted younger sister, we get zero follow-up on those components of her life upon the return to Tokyo. Part of this is so her appearance and reunion with Akira at the very end can land as an emotional surprise to codify his own development, but that only highlights the massive misfires in the show's utilization of Yuuri here in this last episode: Any potentially strong components of her own arc sacrificed at the altar of accessorizing Akira's story.
But like I said, I think there's at least some potential to this massive setting shift going into Battle Game's next phase. It's not interesting enough to make me go check out the manga, mind you, but I might watch the first few episodes of a hypothetical second season out of morbid curiosity. Even as it's constantly misunderstood its own conceptual appeal and mismanaged resources of characterization and plotting, Battle Game at least knew how to keep hurtling along in a way that kept me wondering where it would end up next. So ending on that same kind of unpredictable note is perfectly in-character for it.
Battle Game in 5 Seconds is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Chris is a freelance writer who appreciates anime, action figures, and additional ancillary artistry. He can be found staying up way too late posting screencaps on his Twitter.
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