The Fruit of Evolution: Before I Knew It, My Life Had It Made
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 8 of
The Fruit of Evolution: Before I Knew It, My Life Had It Made ?
I think it is time for us to reckon with what Seiichi Hiiragi has become, here in this new world. I've made a lot of jokes at the guy's expense over the last few months, and some might even say that I've gone “too far” in my attempts to “seriously review” the “story” of his life and exploits. That my veneer of snark and pretention was an unfair and unreasonable weapon to wield against a two-bit light novel adaptation that mostly exists to fill some nebulous programming void and sell tacky merchandise to the ravenous throngs of otaku who will literally consume anything with the word isekai in the plot synopsis or title. To that, I can only say: You're probably right.
I mean it! Having really had some time to reflect on my words and deeds, I've come to realize that my misplaced aggression and cynicism was not the work of a level-headed writer applying justifiable criticism and scrutiny to a commercially published work of animation for a reputable online publication. I was, instead, acting as the proverbial Pharisee of old, using my position of critical authority to silence and persecute a holy work of art. I have seen the error of my ways, and I understand now that Seiichi is a god, truly and legitimately, and The Fruit of Evolution is his Gospel.
Take this week's episode as a perfect example. Not the criminally overlong sequence where a bunch of villains we don't care about ramble about a plot that barely exists for an audience that cannot possibly give a shit. Nor am I referring to the equally meaningless scene where we cut away to Seiichi's school chums that have been doing…whatever it is they've been doing for eight episodes, as if the show suddenly wants us to pretend that they've been a meaningful part of this narrative all along. No, these are merely the human elements of the show's “writers” and “animators”, imperfect contaminants that stain the pure vessel of Seiichi's truth. Sure, they make up almost half the episode, and are so boring that they briefly tempted me into reconsidering my revelation, but I am not a man of paltry faith. I endured through these useless trials, recognizing them for the shams that they were, and I held steadfast in my resolve.
What we really need to consider is the scene where Seiichi is randomly spirited away by those Valkyries we kind of met earlier, so he can claim the prize of last week's race: An afternoon with these beautiful warrior women, including a mock battle with Louise, the Rose of Somesailles and the greatest Valkyrie of them all. It is here that the Good Seiichi works his godlike powers and captures this powerful and independent womsn in his thrall, and with all of the humility of an impossibly stupid dork who still doesn't understand the reality-shaping gifts he has been regularly wielding against the unworthy and unholy.
If I were my old self, my blind self, I might find myself frustrated with this scene on account of how close it came to telling jokes that were actually funny. Back then, I deluded myself into thinking that The Fruit of Evolution was merely a “comedy” meant to entertain and amuse its audience with decently written gags and competent animation. The series' inability to accomplish even that much confounded me before, but now I know better.
The Old James might have written something pithy such as, “The running joke where Seiichi literally cannot help being an unbeatable God-Thing is taken to such an extreme here that it almost works. The cartoonish tragedy of Louise living a life of isolation because of her ridiculous skills as a swordswoman is almost contrasted enough with Seiichi's bumbling perfection to be funny. Even putting aside the mediocre art and performances, though, The Fruit of Evolution simply doesn't understand comedic timing well enough to stick the landing. It recognizes that it should be telling jokes, and it can even mimic other, better shows well enough to get all of the pieces in a vaguely functional order, but it just doesn't know how to make any of it funny.”
These are the words of a sad fool, one who didn't understand what The Fruit of Evolution is really about. We aren't meant to laugh at Seiichi Hiiragi. We're meant to be terrified of him. Here is a man who, by his own admission, understands the true, soul-crushing weight of Absolute Loneliness. When he resigned himself to eating bento sushi in a toilet stall during lunch every day, he was doing the work of Odin when The Ancient One spent nine long nights hanging from Yggdrasil: it was this suffering that set their own destinies into motion. When Seiichi emerged into this new world transformed both physically and spiritually, he arrived as a messiah with an awesome and terrifying truth to unfurl. He has the power to give human form and thought to the lowliest of beasts; he can shape hearts and twist the very threads of fate; any foe that would stand in between he and his disciples is struck down as you or I might swat at a bothersome gnat.
When Artoria takes the newly-reborn Lulune and covers the she-goat's naked flesh, the parallels to the Biblical myths couldn't be more clear, and obviously intentional. In the twenty minutes that they spent in communion, can you imagine what these two had to say to one another?
Both of them have been touched—have been changed—in ways that most people could only ever dream about. They have seen firsthand what their new friend and master is capable of, and I'm sure the would-be assassins working for the demon lord will find out soon enough as well. There is nothing funny about the wrath of a god. His name is Seiichi Hiiragi, King of Kings. Look upon his works, ye mighty, and despair.
The Fruit of Evolution: Before I Knew It, My Life Had It Made is currently streaming on Crunchyroll. James is a writer with many thoughts and feelings about anime and other pop-culture, which can also be found on Twitter, his blog, and his podcast.
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