by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 10 of
Schwarzes Marken ?
Last week, the series killed off a significant cast member in a cheap fashion. It does not make that same mistake two episodes in a row, and neither does Theodor. The screenshot included here is his “I am resolved to off the cute (not blood-related) sister I had sex with earlier because she's gone full yandere and is now in my way” face.
That Lise dies at the end of this episode should surprise absolutely no one. That's been preordained ever since she assumed her Evil Face back in episode 8 and strayed irrevocably into antagonist territory. Actually, her fate probably got locked in a couple of episodes earlier than that, when she first showed signs that suspicions about her presence and intentions in the 666 Squadron may have been warranted. In addition to providing a requisite dose of tragedy, her death also makes for the ultimate symbol of how a repressive totalitarian regime can miserably fail its people. She meets her end broken in mind, body, and spirit, grasping until the last moment to the only obsession that kept her from going completely insane: her love for her brother. So the only proper way this could happen was for Theodor to put the finishing bullet in her himself, face-to-face, after grievously wounding her during a mecha battle. The series doesn't disappoint in the somber way it allows this to play out at the episode's end, even as the credits are rolling.
That battle comes about because the rebel group learns that Kirke has covertly been sent from West Germany to ascertain whether or not the rebels have a position worth supporting. The West is currently inclined to support the prevailing government to assure that East Germany continues to remain a buffer against the BETA, but once Kirke hears that the 666 Squadron is involved, she feels she owes them the opportunity to prove their case. At Theodor's suggestion, the location of the planned meeting is leaked in an effort to draw out the Werewolf Battalion forces that didn't return to the front line. The effort works because the commander of the remaining Werewolf forces won't heed Lise's warning that it's a trap; Lise has a traitor for a sibling so her opinion is worth nothing. The trap is sprung partly using forces that have already defected to the rebel cause, and that leads into Theodor drawing Lise away while the rest of the rebel TSFs and their allies systematically dispatch the other Werewolf Battalion TSFs, in a manner that leaves no room for taking prisoners. A trap dropping a power line tower on Lise's TSF cripples her, allowing Theodor the opportunity to end things properly.
Even setting aside the tragedy, this is a hard-edged episode for other reasons. It takes pains to show common citizens getting caught in the battle as collateral damage, something which the rebel forces seem remarkably unconcerned about. Will this have consequences for dealing with Kirke? Also, it openly shows Lise riddled with shrapnel, something which anime is often loath to actually depict; leaking gallons of blood is fine, but showing what's causing that leaking usually gets sugar-coated.
Frankly, I'm a little surprised that the series didn't drag this out for another episode, which leaves me wondering what the show is going to do for its final two episodes. Irisdina is still out there to be rescued (and we are shown that she's still alive even though propaganda video claims otherwise), and the BETA still have to be fended off, but will the writing be able to handle the end of one of the story's driving impetuses?
Schwarzes Marken is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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