I'm Standing on 1,000,000 Lives.
by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 24 of
I'm Standing on 1,000,000 Lives (TV 2) ?
It's fair to say that as enthusiastic as I was about the plot swerves in the previous episode of I'm Standing on 1,000,000 Lives, coming into this one knowing it was the season finale had me a little concerned about the amount of work it had cut out for it. After all, the show just upended the premise of the entire quest to save Jezby's village; could they really turn that around to resolve things in like twenty minutes? I suppose a season of less-than-stellar stuff to review may have clouded my judgment in terms of remembering that Million Lives was actually one of the overall better anime I'd been watching, because I really should have given it the benefit of the doubt. It turns out that the Jezby twist was not only a refreshing wrench to throw into this cocktail of components, but that wrench somehow managed to perfectly ricochet across all the loosened screws swirling around, and tighten them on the way down until the story was perfectly tuned by the end. Good lord that was a tortured metaphor. Suffice to say, Million Lives's season finale came together better than my attempt at symbolized story synopses.
Right from the start, the whole thing with Jezby proves to be a remarkably effective tool for just streamlining the whole plot. She explains the wireworms, the village monster attacks, the murder of Cox, and other bits all without having to drop in a new character or element here at the last minute. It's basically the opposite of the Dragon Bishop twist from the last arc, where the guy was revealed to be someone in the background we never paid attention to all along. Also, after weeks of being strung along by Jezby as a Sad Little Anime Girl, I'm infinitely amused to see her being a duplicitous little shit instead, as Glen in parallel does her best impression of an Ace Attorney cross-examination. The latter does fit in with what we've seen of Glenda's nature so far, and I appreciate that they even manage to tie in a bit of the overarching life-value theme as she laments how she had to 'sacrifice' Iris before she was sure of her suspicions.
As ambivalent as I was about this arc up to this point, the explanations here do a good job of provoking that old "Go back and rewatch to see what you missed" feeling that such successful serves achieve. There are neat mechanical ruminations on the imperfect nature of memory-implant magic, and even a bit of a retroactive bone thrown to Cox's characterization, confirming that he at least remembers all the people he told himself he was forced to exile for the greater good of his village. I had wistfully hoped in prior reviews that Million Lives at least knew where it was going with all this, and this does come across like it had a plan all along. Could it have been a little brisker in getting here? Sure, but all those little bits still make the big one here feel 'worth it' to my mind.
The internal resolution of any mystery surrounding this conflict also affords the show time to end this arc on a decent bang, with the now clearly evil Jezby summoning a bunch of monsters for a big fight with the Heroes over the discovered New Eden. As a side note, can I just mention how amused I was by the revelation of how dang literal the explanation of needing to choose to die to get into New Eden was, and how it now proves in-context that Cox was the correct one and Jezby's declarations were sus as hell? Either way, the final fight over the secret waterfall location isn't anything remarkable by anime standards, but it looks just a bit better overall at the end here (by the standards of Million Lives anyway), highlighting the scale of this finale.
So after Yuusuke defeats Jezby in a particularly brutal way (Seriously, him planting one of those magic beanstalks in her prompted a pretty powerful "Eugh!" from me), all that's left is winding down with the built-up thematics of the series as we wrap with little certainty that this anime adaptation will continue. That sadly means that there isn't even much of an emotional or thematic conclusion overall, though we still note some progress. One thing I especially appreciate is how they end up picking up the little breadcrumbs of influence the other characters have had on Yuusuke's character, culminating in Kusue quantifiably rejecting his attempts to push forward with pure pragmatism. It overall instills that uplifting, hopeful message we might not have expected from this show at the beginning, the idea that one doesn't need to be defined by a single ill decision like Yuusuke's inadvertent murder in the first season: You can always go back. That, and the later remarks on his promise with Iu to be more open and honest, speak to the bonds of friendship that feel genuine between this otherwise stock setup of a ragtag group of heroes thrown together. It's nothing super-final, but it does give me my own feeling of hope that we may be able to see this story continue someday, and at least be reassured seeing these kids on the right track as we leave them for now.
I'm Standing on 1,000,000 Lives 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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