by Rose Bridges,
One of my favorite things about Yatterman Night is how it makes the silly things in the original Yatterman serious. In the old show, Boyacky was the gadget guy and Tonzra the big strong guy. This holds true as well for Voltkatze and Elephantus, their descendants. Yet for them, these talents are a sign of their ties and devotion to Lady Dorothy, Leopard's mother. This week explains this in flashbacks, such as Dorothy giving Voltkatze his first screwdriver. It's yet another way that Yatterman Night masters tonal contrast. It can so easily find the serious in the silly, and the silly in the serious.
If last week was mostly the latter, this week was more of the former. Yatterman Night still had its gags, but it leaned heavily toward the dramatic this time around. This episode was all about how absence makes the heart grow fonder, in a rare non-romantic sense. Leopard separated from the rest of the group because her comrades wanted to give up on fighting Yatterman. She stormed off in a rage, and all the characters spent the rest of the episode reflecting on what they meant to each other. It was sweet, though, not cruel, punch-to-the-gut drama. Nothing this week is as heartwrenching as the family separations of previous episodes.
All this meant more time to reflect on Leopard's childlike way of seeing the world. Everything for her is in black and white: Doronbow good, Yatterman bad. Her cause is virtuous, so even if it's impossible, she can never give up. She must fight for what's right. Leopard still believes this, but we've already seen her outlook graying. She realizes already that the Yatter Kingdom citizens who are hesitant to help her are doing it more out of fear than malice. She also realizes that there are bigger problems at fault in the Kingdom than her personal ones. This leads to her resolve later to bring down the whole system, not just give Yatterman "a forehead flicking." This episode, Leopard experiences another major growth: that Voltkatze and Elephantus can be both wrong, and also kind of right. And, more importantly, that their hearts are in the right place. They want her to stop because they care about her. She's losing her innocence, but not losing her heart. If anything, her more complicated view of the world strengthens her bonds with others.
Flowers and their meanings are an important motif this episode, especially lavender. The episode never specifies what lavender means in "the language of flowers," but I looked it up. It means a lot of things, but the "most common meaning of the Lavender flower is love and devotion." That's almost certainly what Yatterman Night meant, with devotion so powerful it crosses generations. Another interesting tidbit: "When given as a gift, Lavender flowers represent luck." Leopard is given lavender by her bear-clad protector after he saves her, and it results in amazing odds for her and Gatchan at the end. The Doronbow gang already has luck in spaces, but they needed a serious boost to arrive just in the nick of time like they did.
This episode also featured some seriously gorgeous direction. The winter settings of the last two episodes are a perfect match for the series' signature blue-purple-grey color palette. The snowy landscape makes the fight scenes especially fluid and inventive. It also allows for more mood contrast: There's nothing like the juxtaposition of the Yatter forces encroaching on our heroes with gently falling snow. I'm getting pretty sick of winter in the real world, but I hope it never ends in Yatterman Night, if it keeps these results up.
Yatterman Night continues to be one of the best anime of the season. That's due through a few key ingredients: strong characters, unique visuals and its mastery of moods. Even when Yatterman Night leans toward one mood or the other, it has enough of the opposite (like Leopard waiting for her friends to chase her) to keep viewers guessing. Episode 6 is one of the strongest half-hours it's put out, but that's not by a large margin. Every week, this series finds a new way to shine.
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