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Train to the End of the World
Episode 11

by Steve Jones,

How would you rate episode 11 of
Train to the End of the World ?
Community score: 4.1


It's just now hitting me how much I'm going to miss my weekly dose of train brain damage when this show ends next week. Train to the End of the World's penultimate outing is another confident exercise in madness. Zenjiro shares some old IT wisdom over a melon phone ("Have you tried turning your 7G off and on again?"). Kuroki makes a heroic return at the eleventh hour. A Victoria's Secret display almost decimates the zombie army. Akira presses a button. It's a parade of excitement and nonsense that only this anime can deliver.

The absurd simplicity of Zenjiro's proposed solution belies its metaphorical complexity. The girls don't believe it at first, but why shouldn't they? In the abstract, saving the world with the press of a button is just as crazy as upending the world with one. Why wouldn't it be as simple as turning off 7G? Unfortunately, we receive our answer at the end of the episode: it's far easier to break things than to fix them. Akira's invocation of nuclear football is actually quite relevant. Weigh the ease of launching ICBMs against the difficulty of repairing the scorched environment and humanity left in their wake. Progress is a tightrope walk, and any slip can be catastrophic.

This 7G metaphor works on scales both large and small. The smallest yet most important instance is the relationship between Shizuru and Yoka. In Shuumatsu Train's usual jocular manner, Shizuru comes to a crushing realization that the selfishness, irresponsibility, and short-sightedness ascribed to Pontaro also apply to her. She pushed her friend away, and now that she's finally made it to Ikebukuro, she's scared. When she wonders whether Yoka is a lost cause, she's trying to say that the damage has been done (by her), so there's no going back. She wants to give up. However, while 7G can't be undone with a press of a button, that doesn't mean it can't be fixed in other ways. Shizuru is lucky to have friends like Nadeshiko, who cuts through the miasma of self-loathing and gives Shizuru no choice but to confront her mistakes. We all need people like her steering our trains from time to time.

It takes two to tango, though, and Yoka has her own set of extenuating circumstances perpetuating this 7G incident. If we continue to follow the aforementioned parallels between Shizuru and Pontaro, we can also interpret Pontaro as an avatar of the Shizuru who exists in Yoka's head. Because their last interaction was so toxic, Yoka fixates on Shizuru's bad qualities. Their other memories together fade into the background, as does any chance for reconciliation. Again, it's harder to repair a friendship, but no relationship is perfect, and many are worth the effort of working through each other's shortcomings. If Shizuru and Yoka can find the strength to be vulnerable around each other again, then the world may yet be saved.

Sappiness aside, the screwball action-comedy antics are also excellent this week. They start strong with Dog Pochi gently subduing a total of one henchman, which is enough to paralyze the rest of Pontaro's goons into cowardice. This allows the girls to infiltrate their way straight to Yoka. I love this. It doesn't waste my time, and it opens the rest of the episode to other, better action scenes. The mall sequence has good Dawn of the Dead energy, enhanced by the satirical bend of the aggressive salespeople/robots/paintings. Shizuru shows off her Agano-jutsu against Man Pochi in a well-choreographed brawl capping the episode. It's all ridiculous, but it's put together with the confidence I expect from Tsutomu Mizushima.

I'd additionally like to praise how well-written and well-paced the series has been throughout the season. I've been prone to ballyhoo about the lack of longer shows in the modern anime landscape, but Michiko Yokote fits Shuumatsu Train snugly into its single cours. While I wouldn't have said no to a luxurious two-season stretch that explores more stations along the way, I think the existing narrative strikes a good balance between momentum, character development, and its unique brand of insanity. Each episode has been strong, and I think we're in a great position for a solid finish next Monday. If I had to quibble, maybe I would have given Nadeshiko more of the spotlight, but I'm also charmed by the writers' obvious bias towards Akira. Can you blame them? Akira is the best.

My big wish for the finale is some kind of train-vs.-train showdown. They could race, play chicken, transform into rock 'em sock 'em railroad mechs, or do none of the above. I've learned to expect anything and everything from Mizushima.


Train to the End of the World is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Steve is on Twitter while it lasts. He's currently considering how even the apocalypse couldn't stop Japan from having a nicer rail system than the United States. You can also catch him chatting about trash and treasure alike on This Week in Anime.

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