by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 12 of
If you evaluate a penultimate episode entirely on the basis of whether or not it properly sets up the conclusion, then this episode comes off pretty well, as it brings all but one of the principal cast together for the first time in many episodes to puts the final conflict into motion. However, evaluate the episode on just about any other basis and it's more of a disappointment.
First, let's look at what it does right. Last episode showed flashes of the Saint's past, and this episode clarifies further that the spirit of the Saint wants to see humanity destroyed because she's had nothing but bitter experiences from them throughout the ages; the elder Saint even impresses this point on Akane when she tries to argue that the Occult Club events actually went against the grain. That definitely clears up where she's coming from. We see only a brief flash of the blond monster hunter's past, but it's enough to firmly establish where his nihilistic attitude comes from. (As much as it might be nice to know more about how those circumstances came to pass, this kind of efficiency in storytelling is entirely appropriate for his level of importance to the story.) Also, the revelation about Kotori's “secret weapons” is suitably unnerving without being needlessly dwelled on; director Tensho wisely realized that he didn't need to devote any more attention to this matter for it to have impact. The episode's one true joke – about Kotarou banging heads with the more rascally sprite – was also pretty funny.
The episode stumbles in other places, though. The old guys have always felt more like a running joke than a group to take seriously, which not only doesn't change here but also eats into the drama of the fight. In fact, that battle in general fails miserably to generate the excitement that it should. Weak animation (especially in CGI integration) is at the core of the problem, but the battle choreography doesn't generate much energy either, and the monster hunter's sudden reversal, even though it's somewhat in line with his established principles, felt forced. A weakly-used musical score also contributes to all this, and the unimpressive visual quality of the series as a whole seems to weigh more heavily here. Not enough drama is put into how Kagari is losing herself either.
With only one episode to go, the overall theme of the story seems to be shaping up as “friendship can overcome all wrongs, and we'll all be just fine if we can just learn to get along.” I was hoping for something a bit deeper than that, and perhaps this is all still leading toward something else, but right now I'm not seeing any evidence for a conclusion other than the Occult Club convincing Kagari that they've had enough good experiences together – and want to be together despite their opposing ideologies – to use it as an example that humanity deserves a passing grade. I'm still hoping for the savagely ironic revelation that “feecof” is what actually saves everyone.
Rewrite is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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