Especially if it involves a giant, rainbow bee. What a disappointing conclusion to an anime that had started off so very well. To say that No.6‘s ending feels rushed would be an immense understatement. The much-anticipated Safu encounter ends up being nothing but one long exposition dump about Elyurias, Moon Drop, Mother, and various other topics — many that we are just now learning about. The anime follows this dull scene up with an obligatory escape sequence that is all too redundant. First, Nezumi gets himself shot trying to save Shion. Oh dear, with explosions rocking the facility, how will Shion save Nezumi and still escape in tim– Shion gets himself shot trying to save Nezumi. Sigh. Finally, a giant, rainbow bee is No.6‘s deus ex machina.
The main culprit behind No.6‘s numerous failures is this compulsion to sex a story up with action, conspiracies, and strange, mysterious entities like the parasite bees and a mystical forest goddess. To anyone penning a story right now, know your limits. This cannot be re-iterated enough. Understand what you can do in the amount of time and space allotted to you. No.6 was doing perfectly fine as an exploration of how two people from disparate environments can nevertheless come together and form a powerful, touching relationship.
You throw in a totalitarian regime with a literal barrier separating loved ones from one another and you have something that echoes the experiences of many people across history. When Karan finally notices that the wall around No.6 have been demolished, watching her run in a desperate search for Shion made me think how the family members of both West and East Germany must have felt shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall. We must also be cognizant of the present dilemma facing North and South Koreans. This and the relationship between our two main protagonists should have sufficed for noitaminA’s 11-episode block. Unfortunately, the author behind the story wasn’t content with just crafting a poignant story.
In the end, someone felt the need to add mystical nonsense to No.6. Regrettably, the characters stop dead in their tracks to involve themselves in some generic “infiltrate and destroy the enemy” mission that seems to have come right out of a trashy, pulp novel. Hell, maybe No.6 was nothing but a trashy, pulp novel to begin with. In any case, Bones must also share some of the blame because the studio could not resist the temptation to adapt far too much material in such a short amount of time. Either that or they simply didn’t take enough liberties with the source material to craft something more befitting of the anime medium. Of course, I haven’t read the novels myself so I cannot attest to whether the latter criticism holds up. Either way, I am sure that I can’t be the only one who would have been content to see the Shion-Nezumi relationship develop to its natural conclusion. Oh, of course we wouldn’t that — it would have been too gay.
I’m not going to worry myself with any apparent plot holes in the anime’s finale. I feel that when people analyze anime, they often miss the forest for the trees. Let’s just focus on what No.6 is trying to say. The show’s editing will suggest that the parasite bees are the results of No.6’s “contemptible experiments.” Using Safu as a conduit, Elyurias informs our heroes that she allowed the “ideal sample” to fall into No.6’s grasp “[to allow its] experiments to succeed.” And why should the experiments succeed? “In order to punish the arrogant city, No.6.” In the meantime, we see the parasite bees ravage the city’s inhabitants indiscriminately. There appears to be no rhyme or reason to who ultimately falls victim. In other words, these people are guilty by association and Elyurias has hastened their deaths. They don’t even get a chance to save themselves.
Elyurias is essentially condemning people to death for their ignorance. Is ignorance a sin? Maybe and we could spend all day debating this. But is it a crime punishable by death? Now, I think the anime has gone too far. Yes, the citizens of No.6 has benefited from the exploitation of the West District and the genocide of the forest people, but the anime has not sufficiently established that the the citizens are equally complicit in the city’s numerous crimes. From my standpoint, it would appear that many of No.6’s inhabitants simply had no clue what the city had been up to all along. This would be like punishing random Japanese civilians for the military’s involvement in the Rape of Nanking. Case in point, Yoming’s revelations shocked and surprised Karan. She, however, did not get “punished.” Likewise, Shion had no idea of No.6’s crimes either, but he would have been one of the parasite bees’ victims had Nezumi not intervened. What explains this inexplicable difference between Shion and his mother?
What’s most disappointing is that this debate has been at the heart of the entire anime. Who has been the most consistently innocent and pure character in the story? Shion. And what message has Shion consistently espoused? That everyone’s human — that everyone should be treated the same — regardless of who they are or where they come from. Shion has struggled all series long to defend himself against the likes of Nezumi and Dogkeeper, both who believe that people should just look out for themselves. So when the ending finally rolls around, Elyurias just wantonly condemns random No.6 citizens to death, regardless of whether or not they are morally culpable. For example, even if Yoming is a little unhinged, there is nothing in the anime to suggest that he deserves to die. Despite this, we nevertheless see Yoming’s withered corpse in the ending montage.
In the end, Elyurias uses her powers to bring down the wall around No.6, but due to what we’ve just seen, her final action is a hollow gesture. It means nothing when countless lives have been lost that same day because of her very own short-sighted moral reasoning. And then she saves Shion’s life but for what? An equally perplexing scene follows: Shion pulls out the data chip that he had been handed a few episodes ago, an unfired Chekhov’s gun. Again, technology is useless and nature reigns supreme. In the meantime, enjoy the happy ending that just got squeezed into a morally inconsistent story. I’m just going to assume that the first episode is all that exists and the rest of the story is nothing but one of the character’s feverish dreams.