Like the previous episode highlighting Rishia, this episode starts by teasing the reveal of the beautiful and mysterious Ost Hourai.
Amazing! Subpar.. Shocking! That was lame.. These are all words and descriptions that I wouldn’t find far-fetched regarding this episode. It just goes to show how mixed it was in various parts.. Last episode started with Rishia character development. This episode teases at the beginning using the most mysterious character, Ost Hourai. As she is walking through a mist deliberating over her existence, we get another tease of the “orchestrator” of the Spirit Tortoise’s premature release from slumber.
In a bummer of an actionless dispute, L’arc, Theresa and Glass all came not wanting to inflict any harm onto Naofumi’s party. Although, we get more explanation as to who the culprit is and what their intentions are to stop him. It seems like similar creatures to the Spirit Tortoise across their world and others have been taken advantage of a person looking to gain power for himself. L’arc’s party has come to put a stop to this person.
L’arc asks Naofumi if they want to join forces, but Naofumi vehemently refuses as they will be fighting to the death at some point in the future. As long as they are not fighting now, Naofumi could care less with what they do.
The scene shifts back to the outside with Queen Mirellia and Eclair speaking with the other leaders. The Spirit Tortoise is close to reviving and they must keep it at bay, while Naofumi’s party makes it way to the heart to destroy it.
Once again, this episode hits us with another scene reiterating Ost’s fuzzy memories like at the beginning of the episode. The theme of her getting this reoccurring headache when she regains memories is looking like its coming to a climax soon. She reiterates why people are so nice to her(me too) because of her purpose to the Spirit Tortoise, why she has to help steal souls in order to save them.
Here, we have the quintessential “we are friends forever” kind-of-moment as Rishia, Raphtalia, Filo and Ost put there hands together like they are getting ready to star in an all-female cast of Power Rangers. This is the 2nd time this episode, the anime hints at the viewer about wanting to feel some type of way about her situation. “No Ost, you’re not the bad guy! You’re a good guy because you helped us fight like a good person!” This was the type of dialogue this episode was trying to portray as it was trying to convey how much the characters are now “working together as a comrades.” It’s clear here that everyone obviously wants to find out another way to help save people, by not sacrificing souls.
L’arc’s party ends up reaching the heart first as Ost takes Naofumi’s party into another direction through the fork in the road. First, they come across an hourglass-like structure that tells you if there is enough souls to create the barrier against the waves. Next, they finally run into what looks to be the main antagonist.. so far.
Hopefully, there’s another guy with a not-so-punchable face. A guy that we can still respect as a bad guy..
In anticipation of a “big bad wolf” being the string puller behind the scenes, it is revealed to be a snarky little book dweeb named “Kyo Ethnina.” Kyo begins to laugh with glee as he explains that” L’arc’s party has fallen for his trap.” L’arc’s party begin taking down the Spirit Tortoise’s heart, but it ends up multiplying in numbers as each slash starts to tire them down.
The scene shifts back Naofumi’s party and Kyo continuing their back and forth banter. In an unexpected move, the Spirit Tortoise’s “self-defense mechanism” activates, attacking Naofumi’s party. Very quickly, Naofumi sends Raphtalia to cut down the heart. With a regretful look of possibly ending Ost’s life, Raphtalia cuts the heart down anyways, making Ost collapse to the ground.
Oh no! Not our waifu!
Wait a minute.. What happened to the friends forever, we’ll find another way moment?!
Then, the episode transitions us back to Ost’s memories or a different spacial plane like at the beginning of the episode as the music changes into a more somber-like feel. Once again Ost regains consciousness, but comes back from the misty fog with all of her memories intact. Ultimately, Ost reveals “the deepest depths” of the Spirit Tortoise, where Kyo actually resides. This time, Naofumi’s party comes in direct confrontation with Kyo.
It is here the biggest reveal comes to light. The music amps for anticipation as Kyo points out the obvious that most of us were probably wondering about. Ost IS the Spirit Tortoise. Well.. not literally, but she IS literally embedded with the Spirit Tortoise’s core, which “could have saved everyone the trouble and many lives” as Kyo points out. The episode ends here as the Spirit Tortoise awakens with a big ol’ steamy roar!
The Episode Started Out Great!
There’s nothing like a great hook to the beginning of an episode. From the jump, this episode clearly got us focused on the two most mysterious characters, Ost Hourai and the later revealed Kyo Ethnina. The beginning scenes shifts back to the somewhat confrontation between Naofumi’s and L’arc’s party, as the characters quickly spoke their reasons to be there (to beat the crap out of the guy to released the Spirit Tortoise). Obviously, this relates back to the giant mystery of how Ost Hourai ties into everything.
To that point, it seemed too obvious to the viewers that destroying the heart will be “the end.” It’s more likely some big revelation would come like opening scene teased. With the re-introduction of L’arc, Theresa and Glass, this creates for more compelling opportunities for something exciting to happen. The feeling of something is “amiss,” has been carrying over since the first episode. This is probably the aspect of the arc and episode that I enjoy the most. The mystery is always better than the reveal amirite?
Another Weak Reveal
As anticipation builds up to a climax of the mystery of this shadowy behind-the-scenes bad guy gets revealed, we witnessed a very typical kind of bad guy revealed in a pretty lackluster kind of way. The character himself is just your run-of-the-mill bookworm-guy-gone-bad trope. At least, that is who he is portrayed as as he is the “Book Vassal Wielder.” We don’t know what his ultimate purpose is or if there are any co-conspirators. But, what we do know is he’s “trying to take the powers of all of the magical beasts across multiple worlds.” Please tell me the plot and this villain isn’t this generic.. It can’t be, right?
I have harped on this anime’s ability to hit certain scenes more dramatically. This big reveal was no different like Ost’s reveal from the 2nd episode of this season. Kyo comes out with just the lamest laugh. There wasn’t any climatic build up or sense of “oh man, this guy is the real deal!” It was more like a “hi, I’m the dweeb that’s about to take all this power for myself!” It doesn’t help that the character himself is pretty lame, but what preceded prior didn’t really set anything up for this moment with Kyo.
Given my criticisms for this midpoint of the episode, what proceeds next with the back and forth between Naofumi’s party and Kyo does do a good job setting up the end of the episode. Showing scenes of L’arc’s party trying to take down all of those hearts, while Kyo was talking down on Naofumi’s party was a good way to showcase Kyo’s intellect and raising questions about his intentions. Again, he does comes across as just another lame condescending bad guy with no swag.
The Intended Big Reveal
With so many lives at stake at the hands of the Spirit Tortoise, there hasn’t been a huge sense of urgency for building drama. No one significant to the anime has gotten injured, hurt or lost something that would mean anything to the viewer. So, the goal to destroy the heart was just an end to a means for Ost’s development. Her “truer” identity.
From the point on of Raphtalia taking down the Spirit Tortoise’s heart until the very end of the episode, the anime tried to execute a couple different “moments” in a very short period of time. In my opinion, it was a bit too obvious that Ost WASN’T going to die. Plus, they already did the same scene from the 3rd episode. Ost is only 4-5 episodes in.
Knowing what we know about her “purpose,” how can a logical person feel any type of sadness from her dying?! If that really was the intention, which I think so.
Give me a break!
The scenes that Ost provided from the earlier battles were those of “cool” action scenes and being helpful like any other character. Not one significant moment was created from her directly saving anyone’s lives that the viewer felt anything significant towards. This is a huge swing and miss in that regard. I get that they probably want to find a way to save lives without sacrificing lives. Still, I can’t get over the fact that she introduced herself as “a manipulator that helped starts wars to acquires souls.”
That doesn’t sound like a person I’m going to feel sorry for..
Confusing scenes coming up..
Once the scenes of the glowing crest illuminates on Ost’s chest, I was left slightly confused about the true meaning of this scene. Before she wakes up, the episode tries to hit us with sadness in her “death” for a brief time. She wakes up and somehow remembers everything, leading Naofumi’s party into the “deepest depths” where the bookworm villain resides. These sequence of scenes had me wondering what the heck is actually happening here. This portion of the episode would have been bad if it ended here, but what comes next actually makes it gel together in a nice way.
Then, the music shifts into a more climatic and dramatic feel with the confrontation with Kyo; revealing to us the big spoiler that the Spirit Tortoise’s core is actually inside Ost Hourai! Was anyone actually surprised by this though? This is supposed to be the damning「まさか！」”masaka” moment? I guess the twist here is she isn’t that she is the Spirit Tortoise itself, but more of a vassal that carries the Spirit Tortoise’s core within. It just seemed way too obviously that the only character that has any direct relationship to the Spirit Tortoise has an obviously important link to the Spirit Tortoise. Maybe Naofumi should have took her offer of killing her at her first meeting?
Boom! Arc over..
I have to admit that this scene at the end was actually really well done. Even though it seemed to me that the reveal was very obvious, it was actually done in a way that hit the nail on the head, in terms of creating that dramatic moment. The music, Kyo being in typical snarky bad guy fashion pointing out something the “good guys” missed, Raphtalia & Filo questioning what he’s talking about; all of these elements were really executed well to deliver Ost’s true secrets, no matter how obvious it was. Having that combined with the reawakening of the Spirit Tortoise really left a good impression for a cliffhanger.
Overall, this episode was very mixed to kind of good? The storytelling and pacing was done in a way I thought seemed like a natural progression. Even if I thought some scenes didn’t land the way I would have liked, I understood what it was going for. My biggest gripes came with the characters themselves; Kyo being some lame bookworm vassal wielder and Ost not-so-surprisingly being the direct link to stopping the Spirit Tortoise. Again, the anime misses on a dramatic introduction to what is supposed to be a very important character. In episode 2, they missed with Ost Hourai just randomly showing up to the war room meeting. This time, Kyo just lame laughs his way into the screen.
The best thing I can take away from this episode is how it ends. If you can watch through something that makes you want to hit the “exit” button and then it ends with a nice cliffhanger somehow getting you to want to see more, then it accomplished what it intended to do in the first place—get you to watch more! Even though I may have railed on a couple of new characters, it still doesn’t take away the fact that we still have Naofumi, Raphtalia and L’arc’s party still around. The same way there was more to Ost than meets the chest, we have to assume the same for our lame-boy villian, Kyo Ethnina. A big battle is brewing ahead and I am sure we are all still excited to see what is coming next. Okay.. I’ll admit it. I still liked the episode.