to the abandoned Sacred Beasts
by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 12 of
to the abandoned Sacred Beasts ?
With episode 12, the anime adaptation of to the abandoned Sacred Beasts comes to a conclusion—at least for now. While this episode does feature a climactic battle we all knew was coming and a sort-of resolution, this conclusion really marks the end of the first stage in a longer journey.
Upon watching the final scenes, where Schaal walks off with a rejuvenated Hank to continue his mission, my first impression was that this episode (and the series as a whole) represents a missed opportunity. Based on the premise, this story had a real opportunity to make deeper commentary about the impact of war on soldiers. Indeed, the series' themes in the early going seemed to be aiming in that direction, and I still think some of the individual encounters remain poignant regardless of the story's greater context. However, instead of sticking with that idea, to the abandoned Sacred Beasts opted to go down a much more generic path, which wound up with an indomitable ally-turned-villain attempting to flip the protagonist over to his viewpoint instead of killing him. However, because the protagonist has newfound emotional support in his life, he's able to resist that call. In other words, it's the same old tired routine we've seen in any number of other anime series.
Not that this is any surprise; the opener's visuals and the characterization of Cain have always pointed us in this direction. However, there were so many opportunities to do more. Cain actually raises some good points about not being a slave to their roles in the war and rising beyond their status as disposable soldiers, and it has seemed as though the most stable Incarnates are the ones who had a clear purpose before going crazy – even if that purpose was evil. However, any hope of striving for something deeper went out the window when Cain was developed into the stereotypical mad villain. Making him a more even-tempered soul who just disagreed with North Patrian policy and Hank's mission would have lended the story a more contemplative air. At least the final episode does confirm that Cain's motivation likely stemmed from jealousy. He was envious of the attention that Hank was getting from Elaine, perhaps because he was in love with her himself.
This final episode isn't a total loss by any means. The poison gas attack was suitably nasty and grossly graphic, and Cain is intimidating as the boss villain. Seeing the effect that Schaal's support has had on Hank is quite satisfying, as is the reversal where Hank gathers his strength to pound Cain, improbable though it may be. The role of ordinary soldiers battling for the fort while the big boys brawled is also significant, as it symbolizes that humans were quite capable of conducting warfare without the Incarnates.
If this is the last animated content we see from the franchise, then at least it steps off at a reasonable stopping point. That's about the best you could hope for from the ending of a series like this. Ultimately, this series had the opportunity to be something special, but because it didn't follow through on its greater potential, it will probably fade into obscurity within a couple years.
to the abandoned Sacred Beasts is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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