by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 13 of
While making speculations on how this series might end, one reader reminded me, “it's a Key series.” I really should have taken that to heart, because that's exactly how this plays out. If happy things happen at the end of a Key series, it's rarely without some figurative or literal rebirth being involved.
The short version of episode 13 is “the Saint wins, everyone dies, and the world ends.” Of course, that isn't all there is to it; after all, Kagari is (apparently) a multidimensional being, and as the finale scene shows, the world we've been watching is just one of many circuit-like branches when it fizzles out. Apparently, that Kagari does have at least some emotional connection to her counterpart in the dead world. A follow-up TV series, which will adapt an expansion game arc, has already been announced for the Winter 2017 season, so it will take place in an alternate world, I guess? It could be interesting to see if there's any carry-over between the two, as in other cases where the world ends in the middle of a series' run. (See Otogi Zoshi.)
While the world is ending, the producers at least give practically everyone who has appeared to date (and is still alive) a brief cameo. In a big effort to generate some emotional response – driven by the carefully-crafted sentimentality of the gentle musical theme – almost everyone from the main cast goes out together with a loved one. Shizuru gets a ridiculous motorcycle stunt and showdown with the katana-wielding old man before her and Lucia go all sparkly together, Chihaya goes out with Sakuya, Akane with her little sister, Kotori with Pero (who was apparently the pig-like critter all along), and Kotarou is with Kagari to the end. Of these, the only one that I found even a little touching was the Shizuru/Lucia one, although mileage will definitely vary here.
Before the end, this episode answers some long-standing questions, such as how the flashback scene of Kotarou losing his arm as a kid fits into the picture and why Kagari was always hanging around him and biting his arm. (In its one supposedly amusing moment, it also clarifies that the best way to stop a girl who is screaming the end of the world is to grope her. Yeah.) However, it also raises some big questions. Chief among them is what the old guy meant in his comments about Kotarou before trying to kill him, which strongly suggested that some iteration of all this had played out before and the old man was aware of it. The other big question is what that thing Sakuya turned into was supposed to be. For me though, the biggest question is what theme the writers were actually aiming for here. I had expected the message to be clarified, but this ending only muddies the waters further. The head of Key/Visual Art's claimed that the series was being made this way to correct common misconceptions about the true theme of the light novel, but I see no evidence of that here. Was he including the upcoming adaptation of the Moon/Terra arc in that claim?
Evaluated solely on its own merits, this could be seen as one of the series' best episodes; certainly none of the previous ones have looked better in a technical sense. As a conclusion to the season though, it's a disappointment. I may up my opinion depending on what's done with the next season, but for now I cannot help but regard this as a weak ending to a lackluster series.
Rewrite is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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