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Episode 13

by Richard Eisenbeis,

How would you rate episode 13 of
Sand Land: The Series (ONA) ?
Community score: 4.3

So here we are at the end of Akira Toriyama's final non-Dragon Ball series—and what a ride it has been.

It's fitting the last big fight of the series brings us back to the core of the show: Rao, Beelzebub, Thief, and a tank. Better still, the fight is constructed in such a way that it makes Beelzebub's big power-up both feel logical and earned. After all, we've seen before that he has to absorb moonlight to use the power of darkness—so it makes sense that in the direct moonlight, he'd be supercharged.

Of course, just like with the first arc, this arc isn't really about Beelzebub—even if he gets the big, climactic fight scene. In the end, it's about three people: Bred, Ann, and Rao.

Bred, defeated in battle by Rao, is forced to realize that, while his ultimate goal (peace for Forrest Land) had been a noble one, his way of trying to attain it was completely wrong. After all, it is his enemy, Ann, who saves the lives of his men—not him nor Muniel. She is the one who truly cares for her people—all of them, even those who hate her as a demon spawn. And with Garam about to crash and cause five times the destruction of what Rao caused—well, it's impossible for Bred not to see himself as the villain he has become.

Meanwhile, Ann is a young woman who has worn many hats. She's been a princess, a rebel leader, and a demon—but all these titles were forced upon her. What she's always been interested in is being an engineer—tinkering with and improving any technology she comes across. And in the end, this is the power that saves the day.

All this brings us to Rao. This arc had him stand up to prevent another disaster like the one he was a part of. By doing so, he set things in motion so that the Picchi's original dream came to fruition. Thanks to Ann's technical skill, much of the explosive power of the five Aquanium reactors instead becomes a nearly endless supply of water—which thanks to the Demon King's magic, has been sent up into the sky to be dispersed as rain. While Rao can never bring back the lives of his wife and all the Picchi and humans that died, he can, at the very least, bring new life to Sand Land.

But while the character arcs are well-done, this episode does suffer from an obvious problem: the ending. To be frank, it's just too happy of a “happy ending”—especially when it comes to the events in Forrest Land. Bred faces no punishment whatsoever for all that he did. He staged a violent coup and kept the king and queen prisoner for a literal decade. All that time, he was hunting for and trying to kill their daughter while building a weapon of mass destruction to use on neighboring countries.

It's one thing for him to realize the error of his ways. It's quite another for him to remain the supreme commander of the armed forces. I also find the king's assurances that the people of Forest Land (who have spent a decade becoming radicalized against demons) will accept Lilith despite her demon nature. It just all feels too unrealistic for the world that Sand Land has worked to create.

That said, at least the show goes out on a fine note with Rao, now even further cleansed of his guilt, traveling with Ann to help her become the engineer she truly wants to be—accompanied by Thief and Beelzebub, of course. Thus our heroes head off together into the sunset. And while we'll never see what new adventures await them, we can be sure that this odd-found family will make the world a better place.


Random Thoughts:

• I like how Muniel declares his grudge against Beelzebub will last a thousand years—only for his warehouse-working punishment to coincidentally be for exactly that long.

• It was nice to see Beelzebub get the recognition he wanted from his father.

• I'm shocked that Ann never used her demon powers at all in the climax.

• Thanks for joining me on this series. RIP Toriyama. You are already missed.

SAND LAND: THE SERIES is currently streaming on Disney+ and Hulu.

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