Wish Upon the Pleiades
by Rose Bridges,
We're halfway through Wish Upon the Pleiades and—stuff is actually happening? What is this madness? Yes, it looks like the show finally remembered that it had a larger plot to attend to, and finally moved away from the character-focused episodes to push that forward. As much as I enjoyed getting to know the girls better, I'm happy we're finally going somewhere.
It starts with "the president" sharing the history of its race's travels through the galaxy and why they have to find the engine fragments. After they were forced to become itinerants, re-assembling the engines is the only way our squishy aliens can make it home. It's a lot of exposition to digest, especially for a show like this. However, it's important, and I wish it had come a lot sooner. Wish Upon the Pleiades relied too much on presenting disconnected fragments of ideas and expecting us to piece them together. It's nice to finally get some solid information.
After that, the evil character—who apparently isn't Minato, but just looks like him?—traps Subaru within their school in an attempt to steal back all the fragments. She finds a way out through the mysterious observatory, where the actual Minato is oblivious to the entire situation. The team assembles, they battle Minato outside, and he seems to be the victor until their drive shafts suddenly upgrade! (The power of car engines! VROOM VROOM!) They hit him with a blast that makes him disappear for now. After several weeks of character development or just plain filler, we not only have a plot episode, but a pivotal one, completely changing the course of the story, and it came out of nowhere.
That's why I can't get too excited about this week's events. This is all way too abrupt. If the girls are going to do something as drastic as defeat—or at least press the reset button on—their main enemy, why is it happening now? There's been barely any movement toward that so far. It wasn't like this episode was super-crammed with action or information, but it still feels like there should have been two or three episodes to spread this out. Let the audience adjust to the idea that Stuff Is Actually Happening, We're Actually Building Toward Something, and then destroy your villain. I know they have only one cour for this, but they could have thrown out one or two of the previous five episodes in order to give this more time. Deposing the villain is a little more important than swimsuits.
I'm sure he'll come back, of course. The observatory scene made that clear. He's found incapacitated there, where his alter-ego Minato is waiting for him. The earlier observatory scenes didn't make it clear whether Minato and the bad guy were the same person. Wish Upon the Pleiades was careful never to show them in the same frame, and Minato had no recollection of anything his evil double did. Now we know that they are actually separate, or perhaps they're psychological projections of the same personality. I'm not sure what we're supposed to think. However, I'm eager to find out.
This episode did add something important that was lacking before: stakes. When the light threatens to engulf the girls, and in the aftermath of how it affects the villain instead, we see how bad it could be if he'd actually succeeded. We begin to care more about this quest beyond just giving the characters something to do. Now I really want to know what the heck is going on with Minato. I'm also curious about the nature of the "observatory," considering its effect on Aoi's transformation and ability to shift throughout the school. Previously, it seemed like the Hogwarts Room of Requirement, but now I'm wondering if it's some kind of dimensional rift or illusion. This episode poses way more questions than it answers, but in a good way. I now have a better sense of where this is going.
The bad pacing still makes this episode very clunky. Wish Upon the Pleiades has always struggled with balancing its various elements: the promotional tie-in drive shafts, the cutesy characters and their backstories, and the larger struggle. Up to now, Wish Upon the Pleiades followed a pretty strict formula, trying to push all three of those into each episode. The results varied, but usually left me confused about some of it. This episode shook things up in a way it can't reverse. This change could be good or it could be bad, but at least it's something.
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