by Nicholas Dupree,
How would you rate episode 7 of
Platinum End ?
I really wish I could feel bad for Mirai. He is, in pretty much every sense, the most consistent victim in this whole mess. He's lived the majority of his young life in abject suffering at the hands of a cartoonishly evil extended family, and even his short-lived reprieve from that living hell only brought him into a different, more high concept living hell. The heavens above chose him, solely for how much he's suffered, and then threw him into a supernatural battle royale where his only options are to go against his most fundamental morality or die a miserable and meaningless death. As this episode's ending makes explicit, he's known maybe two days of peace in the last decade of his life, and that trend doesn't look to be changing in the immediate future.
And yet, there's just something in how he's written that keeps me from ever actually sympathizing with the guy. Maybe it's the fact that the narrative clearly wishes it didn't have to deal with him. Throughout the extended standoff with Metropoliman this episode, you can practically hear the creators rubbing their temples in frustration every time Mirai and his dumb “no killing” rule gets in the way of their cool battle of wits between Mukaido and our masked murderer. Metropoliman even makes an obviously hollow promise to not kill non-Candidates just to move the whole thing along, because he has absolutely no patience for anybody trying to appeal to his non-existent empathy. This man came here to have a highly dramatic standoff with his shiny, magic, murder arrows, and he's got no time to waste on coddling the sniveling toddler who thinks “being mean is bad” is a winning argument.
Though that standoff doesn't really amount to much. The sheer speed and application of everyone's angel wings means the entire confrontation becomes the world's clumsiest chess match, with both sides essentially trying to argue their way to getting the other party to willingly stand still and get murdered. But since Metropoliman is the only one with an insta-kill (that he's willing to use, anyway) and has all the leverage, there's never any real tension. There's just no suspense when the only way your ultra-smart villain can possibly lose is if he willingly gives up his advantage for no reason, y'know. Doesn't help that the animation decides to really phone it in during this whole thing. Between the non-flapping wings and everyone wearing face coverings, the first 10 minutes of this episode are just static character models bobbing up and down in front of a sky backdrop. That's not exactly scintillating visual storytelling, and with the lack of any real substance it makes for a pretty dire watch.
But then, for a few brief minutes, Platinum End completes its journey from failed death game to accidental black comedy. Mirai, face streaming with tears, snot, and possibly a little vomit, hurls his gangly body into a desperate and deeply embarrassing attack on Metropoliman by just...trying to punch him with his Red Arrow. It's awkward, unsuccessful, accomplishes next to nothing, and I legitimately believe it's the best thing he could come up with. He screams the entire time, only drowned out by the hilariously out of place dubstep music that soundtracks the whole clash, and it's comedy gold. There's even a sad little moment where, after Metropoliman and his angel both call Mirai a lame little punk, Nasse chimes in to say that actually Mirai is “hella cool.” That's real. I didn't make it up.
Don't get me wrong: there's absolutely nothing shameful about crying, especially during a drastic and stressful situation where you're fighting for your life. But there are many ways a piece of fiction can frame something like this to make those tears seem noble, impressive, or otherwise admirable. Shonen battle manga have had protagonists cry on the battlefield for decades and managed to imbue those moments with a sense of pathos and humanity. Platinum End achieves none of that, and it again comes down to the fact that it just does not believe in Mirai in any way. It doesn't understand or empathize with his sense of mercy, nor can it clearly articulate why he holds those beliefs. So even as it gives him what should be an important moment as the hero of this story, it cannot bring itself to grant him dignity. And the result of all that is pure hilarity.
Sadly, we eventually have to come down from that, and the rest of the episode is just a continued failure to properly communicate Mirai's feelings for the dozenth time, before awkwardly transitioning to setting up some drama between him and Saki for next episode. I have no idea how that will turn out, mostly because Saki herself has been little more than a mannequin in terms of the actual narrative. But hey, it might give her something to do in the story besides just being in Mira's proximity, so here's hoping. For now though, I'll take this isolated bit of unintentional comedic genius to heart.
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