The Vision of Escaflowne
Episode 23-24

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 23 of
The Vision of Escaflowne ?

How would you rate episode 24 of
The Vision of Escaflowne ?

It is, for me at least, almost impossible to view The Vision of Escaflowne without thinking about the literature of war. As I've said before, that usually equates to World War Two in my family's history, although various relatives fought in Korea, Vietnam, and other wars since. But as the series reaches its finale, the ideas written about by authors like Elizabeth Bowen and John Steinbeck, as well as more modern authors looking back, like Marcus Zusak, surface time and time again in Escaflowne's narrative, indelibly marking the show with ink still wet after decades have passed.

This week it is John Steinbeck's The Moon is Down that remained lodged in my consciousness as I watched. Steinbeck's short novel (almost a novella, really) was banned in the U.S. for its purported too-sympathetic portrayal of the unnamed aggressors, apparently by people who completely failed to understand Steinbeck's point. With Folken's defection from Zaibach, which we could also read as a return to the side he rightly belongs with, he has realized one of the statements Steinbeck makes in his book: “It is always the herd men who win battles and the free men who win wars.”

The line can be interpreted to mean that those who follow blindly without really knowing what they're supporting or getting into can never triumph over people who have a personal stake in the outcome. Folken's epiphany in the previous episode, that Dornkirk and Zaibach were using him for his heritage and social status without actually giving a damn about his well-being, led to his decision to bring what he knows to the side he previously fought against, breaking free, in Steinbeck's words, from the herd to think for himself for a change. While the jury's still out on whether or not we should trust him implicitly, it's probably a good sign that since his return to Fanelia's side, we haven't seen hide nor hair of his mechanical arm – he's got that side draped in extra cloth and is only shown using his remaining human arm. Yes, it could be symbolic that he's hiding his ties to Dornkirk only to throw back the curtain later, but it could also be read as his rejection of what was done to him years ago.

On the subject of rejection, another of Dornkirk's unsolicited surgeries is beginning to be pushed aside. This is, of course, whatever horrific process he subjected Allen's sister Celena to in order to warp her into Dilandau. The connection between the two halves of her being is definitely wearing thin, and it seems like almost anything can trigger a shift between her two states of being at this point. The Celena part of her, still a little girl in an adult body, just wants her older brother, and any emotional upset can bring her out. But Dilandau is too well-conditioned to give up without a fight, and violence can bring him screaming back to the surface, indicating that any sort of recovery is still in the distant future, if it's even possible. But then again, if Celena's original self was anything like the person she shows herself to be when she returns to Allen in episode twenty-four, there were some major warning signs that she could have been a Dilandau anyway – the trigger for her transformation is when she happily catches and crushes a butterfly.

Her return, however brief, does force Allen to acknowledge that he probably isn't in love with Hitomi like he thought, but rather looking for a replacement for Celena to protect and love. Since previous to Hitomi's short return to Earth he was clearly riding the train to Creepyville, that's a realization that came just in time – his attitude towards Hitomi has always been on the sexist side, but his shift into trying to dictate where she could be and the whole cage thing from the previous episodes were definite red flags that Hitomi should avoid getting involved with him at all costs, no matter how much he looked like Amano.

Hitomi's ability to return to Earth and Van's retrieval of her are perhaps the most significant plot moments of these episodes. That's because both are completely based on their own wills – Hitomi in that moment desperately wants to go home, and Van just as desperately wants to see her again. What that means is that even without Dornkirk fiddling around with so-called “fate”, both of them may have the internal power to trigger a transportation between worlds: the power of their emotions. Hopefully that means that they have more choice in the future, because it wouldn't be fair to either of them to have to make a “here or there” decision on a permanent basis at age seventeen.

But for now, they're both back on Gaea. The war is still raging and the outcome is uncertain. Perhaps the only real choice before them now in this war-torn world is best expressed by Steinbeck: “I have no choice of living or dying, you see, sir, but I do have a choice of how I do it.”


The Vision of Escaflowne is currently streaming on Funimation.

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