to the abandoned Sacred Beasts
by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 7 of
to the abandoned Sacred Beasts ?
I have never been a source material purist; I don't mind when adaptations make significant changes, as long as those changes either make the story work better in the new format or are otherwise made for a good reason. While I didn't think the addition of the Coup de Grace group to the party scene last episode was handled well, it did at least make sense that the government would have been uncertain about leaving everything concerning the Incarnates to Hank, so they simply formed the group before the Whitechurch incident rather than in response to it, as in the manga. The group's presence also makes the Major's acceptance of Schaal more plausible. The other significant change of having Schaal not shoot Gargoyle made less impact on the story since it didn't change the outcome, but it was definitely more impactful on this following episode. Whether or not that change made Schaal a weaker character is up for debate, but the emotional impact of this episode is sharper for the change.
The six-month time jump has temporarily taken Hank out of the picture, leaving the weight of the story to fall mostly on Schaal's thin frame, and she bears it pretty well. The revelation that she wasn't seriously injured by Cain's shot because of the spider-fiber of her dress raises all sorts of questions about what Cain and/or Elizabeth (aka the Spider) actually intended. The dress protecting Schaal's life seems too purposeful, as if the intent was just to make Schaal look like she'd been seriously (if not fatally) injured without actually doing her major harm, but Cain has also shown that he doesn't give a damn if common folk get killed by his actions. So was this Elizabeth's sympathy or pity for the child of a compatriot? The source manga isn't any clearer on this point than the anime, so Schaal and the audience will probably only know for sure when she encounters them again. At the pace the story is going, I don't see that happening before the end of the season. (I should clarify at this point that I have currently only read through volume 3 of the manga.)
But that's a comparatively minor detail. The real meat of the episode is Schaal's return to a hometown that's still leery about her and the ensuing hunt for an Incarnate who turns out to be her thought-dead father. Incarnate resilience kept him from dying to Hank, but his mind is now fully gone. That puts Schaal in an uncomfortable position that Liza and the Major both acknowledge. Even so, Liza still recognizes Schaal's need to be involved enough to give her the Godkiller bullets, and that leads to Schaal being faced with both the opportunity and the need to put down her own father. This time around, all of the circumstances have been set up well enough to justify her pulling the trigger not just once, but multiple times. She now understands where Hank's pain and obligation come from—terrible as the execution was, her father's rampage is something that he absolutely would not have wanted. The scene is handled poignantly enough to have the desired impact, even down to the expressions on both Liza and the Major's faces when they realize what Schaal must do. Even the follow-up scene where Liza presses Schaal into her cleavage feels more sympathetic than tacky.
Things aren't perfect for episode 7. The animation effort is erratic at times, and the comedic aspect of Liza sexually teasing the Major doesn't fit with the overall tone. There are also other major events going on, such as Cain's establishment of a new nation built from those left disgruntled by the war, which are bound to have major long-term consequences. Still, as the most personal story yet for Schaal, this episode is probably going to be remembered along with the Behemoth episode as one of the series' best.
to the abandoned Sacred Beasts is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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