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Gunslinger Stratos: The Animation
Episode 7

by Lauren Orsini,

I felt real solidarity with Tohru during this episode of Gunslinger Stratos: The Animation, as we both spent half an hour being very confused. Both Tohru and the viewer experienced a fever dream of bewilderment as we struggled to determine which characters' answers were trustworthy.

The last thing I remember from episode six was Tohru getting swept into a sandstorm. So I was pretty surprised when this episode opened on a young Tohru, greeting his parents at home. We know very well that Tohru's parents died when he was very young. Suddenly he's an adult again, and he's talking with Kyoka (who we know to be injured from last episode). “What does it matter if you're alive or dead?” Kyoka says, as she presents grisly images of Tohru's body turning into skeletal dust. Everywhere, clocks are ticking as he comes face to face with his inevitable mortality. Tohru's visions are not those of reality, but the dreamscape drags on for quite some time.

Finally, we meet a potential end to our confusion in Nameless Purple-Haired Girl. I've seen a lot of speculation that she is Tohru and Kyoko's future daughter, and the show drops plenty of hints that this could be the case. “You've been swallowed up by the Dead End,” she tells Tohru before explaining that Dead End is a powerful weapon from her time. However, her explanation leaves a lot to be desired. I realize that Dead End is the ultimate weapon. “Those who use it become a part of it, and those who lose it are absorbed by it.” Sometimes the people shown using Dead End appear to be regular people holding guns; other times they appear to be fused with their guns and entirely made of sand. As you may have guessed, Dead End has a lot to do with people turning to sand in the present.

It's interesting that we see an instance of purple-haired girl as an adult scientist in the future. Why does she become a child when she travels back in time? Tohru certainly doesn't when he goes to Japan in 2015. Another confusing moment comes when she explains that time travel technology was found fully formed, raw and unfiltered, drifting through space. It's hard to believe that the only thing that separates us from time travel technology is some kind of space mineral. As the episode continues, the differentiation between science and magic becomes even less concrete. Tohru and the girl can transform the qualities of an energy cube simply by squeezing it in their hands until it glows.

Honestly, I've watched this episode twice, but all I want is to sit down with another viewer and double check the list of increasingly fantastical explanations. So the Timekeepers are all one combined human psyche, but they're antagonistic and don't care what humanity does, since it's all going to end anyway? So energy cubes speed up time, but are somehow fused to only one timeline, that of the Timekeepers? When the Timekeeper who looks like Sidune asks Tohru how he knows he can trust the purple-haired girl, I wondered the same myself. Everyone in this show is driving their own agenda, and it's hard to tell who is a reliable narrator. Tohru's world is in trouble, but it's going to take a better explanation to determine just how bad things are.

Rating: B-

Gunslinger Stratos: The Animation is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Lauren writes about anime and journalism at Otaku Journalist.

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