The Vision of Escaflowne
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 15 of
The Vision of Escaflowne ?
How would you rate episode 16 of
The Vision of Escaflowne ?
If the last couple of episodes were about living through wartime, these two are at least in part about trying to come out the other side. Both Van and Dilandau are struggling with the events of their battle in surprisingly similar ways—surprising only because it lets us know that there is something human in Dilandau after all. In fact, episode sixteen makes a statement to the ends that Dilandau was not so much born as created; his rapacious appetite for battle was perhaps surgically implanted (the line between sorcery and surgery appearing rather thin in this case) in order to better make use of him for Zaibach's needs. What that has to do with his vision of a scared little girl remains to be seen: it could be either a literal memory, or symbolic of how he feels on the inside, in which case it'd be a bit sexist, but we'll plead 1996 on that front. But it's a near certainty that someone altered some part(s) of him in order to create the monster that he has been for most of the series, and that's a disturbing thought.
“Disturbing” is actually a pretty good descriptor for large swathes of these two episodes. Dilandau's origins aside, he's trapped in a continual replay of Van killing his subordinates, reliving their deaths over and over again and thus eroding his sanity even farther. Van is little better off when episode fifteen starts; he's so shaken by the results of his own actions that he very nearly allows himself to die alongside his victims. When Hitomi enters his subconscious (or the Escaflowne's; it's a toss-up), she finds him walking in a gruesome parade of the dead headed for the afterlife. All of the victims of the many battles we've borne witness to are there, and Van walks among them, feeling like he belongs with the souls of those he sent to join in the grim walk. It's a multi-step process for Hitomi to bring him back out: she has to first remove him from the line, then when he retreats to sit curled under a tree, stuck in his memories, she has to be in danger in order for him to wake up and decide that he's got more to do in life—and even then it's also hearing Merle's voice from the waking world that finishes the job. Van may be falling for Hitomi, but family is still the more important factor for him, which is an interesting choice.
That's because “family” is starting to become a more salient theme for The Vision of Escaflowne. Yes, there's the Folken connection for Van, but that's expanding as it's suggested that the group heads to the Mystic Valley, fabled homeland of the Draconians, Van's mother's people. But we're also getting more information about Allen's family and how his father ties into all of this, which, in true convoluted anime fashion, is also related directly to Hitomi's family. Apparently, Allen's dad was some sort of pseudo-Victorian explorer searching for Gaea's version of Shangri-la, and on his travels he ran into a young woman in a kimono, who is (drumroll, please)… Hitomi's grandmother. You know, the one who gave her the pendant that she uses to dowse and that likely brought her to Gaea in the first place. The elder Schezar also meets an old man named Isaac who I would lay money on being Dornkirk, but that's a bit less important at this particular moment.
The bit about Allen's dad meeting Hitomi's grandmother is significant for a few reasons. One, of course, is that Hitomi's mother is likely to be less freaked out by her disappearance than her friends, because her own mother had an isekai experience she wasn't quiet about. But another point is that in this latter half of the series, the show really needs to hurry up and solidify Van and Hitomi as a couple and one easy way to do that is to make Allen and Hitomi somehow related. There's narrative precedent for the idea that Allen's dad is Hitomi's grandfather, too—remember that Allen himself had a secret baby with Millerna's sister Marlene, which nicely (for a given value thereof) sets things up for Hitomi's mom to have been a secret Schezar baby herself. It's getting into “I'm my own grandpa” territory, but it is a really quick and easy way to cut the Allen/Hitomi couple off at the knees and push Hitomi towards Van with alacrity.
And besides, thinking about the potentially twisted family relationships in this show is a nice distraction from the idea that both Fanelia brothers somehow have very human cat pets, which is a bit too Nekopara for my comfort, and that Folken's are almost certainly about to die.
Clearly this show believes in the idea of “go big or go home.” Whether or not that's a productive belief remains to be seen.
The Vision of Escaflowne is currently streaming on Funimation.
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