Platinum End
Episodes 8-9

by Nicholas Dupree,

How would you rate episode 8 of
Platinum End ?
Community score: 3.1

How would you rate episode 9 of
Platinum End ?
Community score: 3.0

Despite being around since the end of the second episode, Saki has contributed staggeringly little to Platinum End in any way. The most significant thing she's done is provide a bedroom for our heroes to meet in, and even that technically happened as part of Revel's plan to brainwash Mirai that ended up going nowhere. Otherwise her job has been to sit in the background, occasionally look concerned for Mirai, and little else. That's not exactly surprising considering Ohba and Obata's track record for female love interests over the years, and at least Mirai and Saki aren't (yet) in some convoluted promise to never speak to each other until they're both successful celebrities despite supposedly being in love.

But things take a change in episode 8, after Mirai's heroic (?) speech last episode shakes something loose and spurs Saki to admit her deepest, darkest secret. And on paper, this whole turn is actually a solid twist to an otherwise flavorless romance. Saki has genuinely complicated feelings of guilt and admiration towards Mirai for how she abandoned him after his family was killed, and the revelation gives her some much-needed emotional complexity, providing room for a more complicated relationship between the two of them to develop. Mirai's spent years loving Saki, idolizing her to the point where he barely changed after the slavish love of her Red Arrow wore off, and is now confronted with the admission that she was complicit in the bullying that kicked him in the kidneys when he was at his lowest. How will our hero react to such a shocking revelation? Will he be hurt? Will he lose faith in her? If not, will it strain their trust or make him question his simplistic views of right and wrong?

None of the above!

No, sadly this whole conflict just kind of skids to a halt in front of the brick wall that is Mirai's character, resolving with him effortlessly forgiving her after the briefest of fakeouts. And it's not like I'm opposed to said forgiveness either; I can totally imagine a scenario where Mirai contemplates what Saki's told him and ultimately decides that her desire to atone is enough for them to move forward together. But that's an intensely personal decision that, to work as an actual piece of character writing, needs to take more than the two minutes we get here. There's no soul-searching or even mild anger from Mirai – he just forgives her because that's what his basic and un-examined idea of happiness entails, end of story.

If there's anything to be gained from this, it's the push that Saki needs to finally take part in conversations now, which at least means there's more dynamic dialogue between our sextet of good guys. Why, we even get a bit of development for Revel when he decides to work on getting promoted to second rank and earning Saki her own set of wings! It's not a ton, but it gives him a goal outside of being an exposition dispenser whenever we need to retread the rules of God Candidacy again. And to top it all off, it looks like we're finally moving out of Saki's bedroom into a real central command for our team! Granted it's weird they chose a church on top of a high-rise condo building, but by god that'll be something interesting to look at while our heroes stand around making plans going forward.

To continue the trend of saying kind things about Platinum End, it's also nice to see Mukaido's family life a bit. It's mostly the same kind of superhero secret-life stuff we've seen before, but being able to put a face to his otherwise offscreen family and just showing them together in a mundane setting goes a long way in adding pathos to his character. I even like the secret wedding dress he's made for his daughter, in the hopes she'll wear it years in the future after he's gone. It's cheesy as all hell, but the kind of earnest and sentimental cheesiness I like from these kinds of stories. Ultimately it reinforces Mukaido's desire to leave a better, safer world for his family before his time's up, and if we could start getting more of this from the show, then Platinum End might just turn things around!

...is what I said before starting episode nine, and things all went to hell from there.

This week we're introduced to Hajime Sokotani. Hajime's backstory is that, in the show's own words, he was born ugly and poor and only got uglier and poorer as he grew up. Eventually his objective hideousness to every single person on the planet, coupled with him being so poor he lived in a ramshackle shed under a bridge, led his mother to kill herself. Y'know, it had been long enough since Mirai's backstory that I forgot this show's default brand of tragedy is so clumsy and heartless that it turns into unintentional comedy. But here we are with our newest antagonist being the god damn Ugly Barnacle. Amazing.

And that is, frankly, fucked up. There are a million ways to create a sympathetic, emotionally resonant backstory about Hajime. He's a total outcast, left to mire in misery to the point he's internalized all the derision life has dropped upon him, to the point where he idolizes the sociopath Metropoliman for having the beauty and fortune he was born without. You could make a deeply scathing piece of commentary with a character like that, especially in a show so obsessed with philosophizing on ideas of happiness. Yet just like Mirai's freakout a few episodes back, the whole thing turns into a dark and miserable comedy because the writing doesn't have any real sympathy for Hajime. It does not offer him any kind of humanizing personality traits or even an interesting internal character – the closest he gets is being a total sadsack in all regards, devoid of dignity and obviously railroaded into everything by his own angel companion. The most this series can earnestly muster for him is pity for sucking so hard that even god-like powers couldn't fix his cursed existence.

So yeah, that's a pretty immediate cliff the show just casually steps off of, and it's only slightly counteracted by the fact that things are actually happening in the story again, with Mukaido's family being taken hostage by Hajime under command of Metropoliman. But even getting there takes a loooot of contrivances – like Hajime just happening to use the same plastic surgeon who secretly helped Metropoliman freeze his sister's corpse in carbonite. Or just blatantly dumb decisions on the part of our brilliant villain, like killing a student in the middle of his school, a move so obvious that even his dumb-as-bricks friend realizes what's going on. It again feels like the show is flying by the seat of its pants, trying to get its own story to move forward regardless of whether it makes sense for any of the characters.

Comparatively, the random scene of Mukaido dressing up Saki in a catgirl power ranger suit almost seems pleasant. Sure it's creepy, another awkward attempt at fanservice from a show incapable of making anything look genuinely sexy, and it's totally out of character for everyone involved. But at least it's not the grotesque and fumbling character study the rest of the episode is about! Still weird, though, and I'm glad Saki doesn't have wings yet, just so I don't have to see her wearing that thing for episodes on end.

I honestly feel kind of bad for covering both of these episodes together. It would have been nice to have said something mildly positive about this story without having to immediately take it back. But as it stands these two entries make the perfect microcosm of why Platinum End has constantly failed to live up to its premise's potential.

Rating:

Platinum End is currently streaming on Crunchyroll and Funimation.


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