The Vision of Escaflowne
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 19 of
The Vision of Escaflowne ?
How would you rate episode 20 of
The Vision of Escaflowne ?
If there's one thing that nearly all of literature has taught us not to mess with, it's love. (If there's a second thing, it's the powers that be; Hitomi's striking out on both counts here.) You need to look no farther than Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream for a lighthearted lesson in why it's always a bad idea to play with the course of true love, but even without Puck and his many mistakes, playing with the lives of people in the name of fulfilling your own goal is just a rotten thing to do. That same play gives us a humorous take on it, but even then it still acknowledges the ugly emotions at the root of why someone would even try to do such a thing in the motives of Oberon, the Fairy King: jealousy and vengeance.
In these two episodes, the role of Oberon is played by Folken and Hitomi, with each embodying a different emotion. Folken is driven by his jealousy of his younger brother, whom he sees as having everything that he himself lost: the power of the dragon, purity of heart, and two working arms. (Also, better hair.) Hitomi, meanwhile, is motivated by her jealousy of Millerna, the person she knows, even before her Tarot card reading, is Allen's destiny. Folken and Dornkirk take shameless advantage of that to set the ball rolling, as well as Hitomi's confusion over whether it's Allen or Amano-sempai she's really attracted to (she even remarks that Allen smells like Amano-sempai in these episodes) to fulfil their goal of separating Hitomi from Van. This isn't just because they're curmudgeons who hate the idea of true love or happiness; it's essential to Zaibach's success in conquering – excuse me, uniting – Gaea. Van and Hitomi are a threat if they're together, so it's in Zaibach's best interest to break them apart.
And boy, does Hitomi ever play right into their hands. There are several moments in both episodes nineteen and twenty when she could have shifted the course of events back onto their rightful track. She could have acted on her initial impulse to pull away from Allen. She could have read Millerna's Tarot cards as they actually were. Heck, she could have reacted better to Van's poorly worded sort-of confession. Instead in every single one of these instances she makes the objectively wrong choice, allowing herself to be herded into the box where Folken and Dornkirk want her, slamming the final side closed all on her own at the end of episode twenty.
Can we blame Hitomi for her actions? While a very annoyed piece of me would like to say yes, I actually don't think we can. She's in an untenable position no matter how we look at it: far from home, horrified that she's starting to feel comfortable on Gaea, which may make her feel guilty about “abandoning” her previous life and friends, and most of all faced with the ghastly realization that what she used to do for fun now she has to do for real, and that her entertaining skills have become weapons of war. Her entire reality has been turned on its head, and the fact that one of the cards we see clearly this week is “The Fool” seems prophetic when it comes to her actions. (This is in the sense that the Major Arcana are used in the show, not in terms of how they're usually read. The Vision of Escaflowne is good at many things, but accurate Tarot interpretation is not one of them.) But if she's the Fool, she's also the Hanged Man, trapped in a web that someone else started but she completed – until lightning strikes The Tower and it all falls down, crushing what would have been under the rubble. Can she dig herself and the rest of the world out? Right now, that's looking like a near-impossible task, and assigning blame, as Hitomi is certain to do with her answer landing squarely on herself, may only make a bad situation worse.
Puck may have had it right when he said that mortals are fools. But we should also not forget that Tarot cards can have two distinct interpretations, one for the upright card, and one for the reversed. All it takes is a shift of position.
The Vision of Escaflowne is currently streaming on Funimation.
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