Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
sole penetra le illusioni ~ Day Break Illusion
Things heat up quickly as the show moves into its second half. After a day on the town, the girls find themselves facing their biggest threat yet – themselves. The dark versions of their patron Tarot cards have started popping up as the powers fueling the Daemonia, but if the dark card is destroyed, so is its light half. Can Akari, Seira, Luna, and Ginka survive? And how will Akari handle the truth about her past at a time when her entire world is already crumbling about her ears?
If the first half of Day Break Illusion, the short name for the series sole penetra le illusione ~ Day Break Illusion, had a difficult time placing itself within a genre, its second half is fully comfortable with itself as a magical girl show. While from the beginning the story featured a team of color-coded girls who all transformed into super versions of themselves with the help of an artifact, starting with episode eight, Daybreak Illusion begins to dig into more traditional magical girl territory, and while it doesn't use these staples as well as it might have, it is still a more cohesive show for it.
Episode seven is the traditional “calm before the storm” breather, and while it isn't particularly fascinating despite some ominous bits, it does introduce the new threat in the background – the holder of the card “The Lovers” has vanished. It soon becomes apparent that this is because she fought a Daemonia who was powered by the mirror of her card, its shadow, essentially. When she destroyed the monster, she destroyed herself as well. Since all Daemonia are given form by these shadow cards, this dramatically increases the danger that the members of Sefiro Fiore are in. The girls are all told to run if they find that their enemy is their dark counterpart...but magical girls are not known for their reticence in the face of an enemy, and in fact self-sacrifice is often a driving theme in their stories. This leads to the first death of a major character since Akari's cousin Fuyuna, and even if you saw it coming, the effects are devastating on the girls.
Unfortunately the show does not handle this death quite as well as it did Fuyuna's in the first episode. When Akari accidentally killed her cousin, the repercussions were felt in every single following episode, and indeed form the backbone of Akari's character and her actions during the show's finale. The death here, arguably of a character who is more important to the viewers and most of the cast, is, while in no way forgotten, sort of pushed to the background by subsequent events. In some ways, this is the natural result of a show that has to end in thirteen episodes – there is simply not enough time to dwell on tragic events.
The pace does not slow at all after episode eight, as events pile up that test the resolve of all of the girls, but of Akari in particular. Hers is the most developed character, and while we still don't end the series feeling as if she is necessarily a real person, the final three episodes do a lot to flesh her out and to resolve some of the issues she has struggled with from the beginning. While the other girls deal with problems of jealousy, fear, and worthiness, Akari is still coping with Fuyuna's death and her role in it. What bothers her the most is that she doesn't know why her cousin became a Daemonia, and without knowing that, she can never move on. This is where Day Break Illusion really shines. Not only does the show allow Akari to come to terms with what happened, it does so in a way that allows her to pull out all of the major magical girl stops – self-sacrifice, self-acceptance, and a wish to use her powers to prevent the mistakes of the past from repeating themselves. When she is able to do all of this, she is also able to find the peace that has eluded her for thirteen episodes. That the other girls in her group are also able to come to terms with themselves feels like a bonus – it is Akari we care about and Akari's shoulders that bear the burden of the sun.
Tarot-reading viewers may take some issue with the way the cards of the Major Arcana are used, but no egregious errors jump out, and it certainly does make for an interesting gimmick. In some cases the powers granted by the cards seem out-of-place with the actual cards themselves, with Ginka's Temperance being the oddest note, but in other cases things work surprisingly well, such as Luna's Moon having more traditionally feminine qualities, such as healing, and her girlier style of dress complimenting that. The cards themselves are cute in a blocky, creepy way, and naturally are highly marketable. The rest of the art in the second half of the series is much as the first, with interesting backgrounds for fights and fairly basic artwork for the rest. The girls begin to look more natural in their movements as things progress, however, even if their slender necks look too weak to hold up their enormous round heads. Akari's fire hair remains a visual highlight, although the changes in her appearance in the last two episodes are also quite impressive.
Day Break Illusion's final few episodes feel a little rushed, and Akari basically spends the last five minutes before the ending credits screaming (Mai Kadowaki performs admirably – prolonged screaming is harder than you'd think), but generally speaking things are satisfactorily resolved, especially for Akari herself. The show leaves itself wide open for a sequel, and it would be interesting to see what Day Break Illusion could do with more time to let things play out a bit more slowly. Overall, however, what began as a difficult show to classify ends on a satisfying note, with problems resolved thanks to the inner strength of Akari and her friends as much as by their magical powers. It isn't as well done as some other magical girl shows, but Day Break Illusion manages to turn itself into a story worth watching as it comes full circle to resolve the problems it opened with.
Overall (sub) : B
Story : B+
Animation : B-
Art : B-
Music : B
+ Resolution for Akari is well done and very welcome, plays some traditional magical girl cards well. No character turns out to be unnecessary.
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