You can almost neatly divide this episode into four acts. For a penultimate episode, Children of the Whales sure is busy setting the stage. How can the final episode possibly provide any reasonable sense of closure? First, Orka somehow convinces his judges not to execute him for screwing up the whole Skylos affair. In fact, he manages to shift the blame so that it almost falls exclusively on Araphne’s head, but don’t you worry one bit if you don’t recognize that name. This show wants to squeeze two seasons’ worth of story into one, so it’s bloated with characters we barely know or understand. Araphne is one of them, and to be honest, Orka too. He then goes on about the Rain of Katherterio, an event that heralded the nous, and how another one is coming soon. How does he know? Is this an evidence-based projection or merely a conjecture born from some magical prophecy? And why are we getting this sort of world-building at the 11th hour? No matter. Orka’s primary goal is now clear: he wants to enslave daimons like Ouni so that the Empire can rule the world. Just typical evil villain things.
Back on Falaina, everyone gathers together on the surface of the Mud Whale. Thanks to a little fairy girl paying each of the Marked a visit in last week’s episode, they can now sing the song of their people. Giant, shimmering wings sprout suddenly from the ship, and we are told that Falaina is no longer rudderless. Its people can now escape their prison, which was apparently a region of the sea that has long been deemed evil. Why? Probably because its currents are inescapable unless you have the power of the nous to push through them. Obviously, this gives the Empire a massive naval advantage, and you can see why they don’t want rival countries to get their hands on a
fully operational battle station nous. But what do the people of Falaina want? They’re still nothing more than a fledgling community comprised of mostly children. They’ve managed to repel an attack from the Empire, but not without suffering heavy casualties. Falaina obviously needs allies, so it makes sense to side with Siderasia, no? This is what Rochalito encourages, but his nation obviously stands to benefit greatly from Falaina’s cooperation. Suou really shouldn’t trust the sweet words of a political leader he’s just met (or any political leader, honestly).
At this point, Lykos drops a bombshell: instead of eating emotions like other nous, Falaina eats your life. This is why these kids live such short lives. The Empire, by comparison, suffers from no such affliction. Lykos had remarked in an earlier episode that Falaina’s Marked had stronger thymia. Orka’s trial at the start of this episode also seems to imply that this exile was nothing more than an experiment. Maybe the goal all along was to try and coax forth a daimon, and this can only be done with a bizarre nous that eats lives instead of emotions. Who knows? I’m just speculating. Needless to say, Chakuro happens to be within earshot of Lykos’s revelation, and he’s devastated. This precious home that he’s always loved is nothing more than a death sentence. Not only do the Marked have to see their loved ones’ die young, they never get the benefit of age and experience to help blunt that pain. You either give up your emotions and go to war for the Empire, or have your life cut woefully short as refugees. Children of the Whales is essentially an allegory about the effects of war on children. Whether or not it’s an effective one is… well, you can probably already guess what I think, but let’s have that discussion next week.
Elsewhere, those twins that were last seen arguing with Kicha — sorry, but I can’t recall their names at all — are now attempting to whip the Marked into an uprising. They’ve even gone ahead and raised a black flag. Really? You’re going to stand behind a sinister-looking banner? I think these guys need an image consultant. In any case, they’re sick and tired of being bossed around by the Unmarked. Why should they, the all powerful thymia users, have to obey the
normies likes of Suou and the Elders? You see this sort of thing in, well, every damn story where humanity is divided into two groups. You can call the special ones whatever you want, whether it’d be mutants, the Marked, or even Blades (yes, I’m dealing with this trope now in Xenoblade Chronicles 2). All you need to know is that sooner or later, someone’s going to make a stink about how special they are, and as a result, they should be the ones in the charge. It’s not that I hate this trope. It’s not that we can’t trot out the same tired plot over and over. It’s just that we’re literally at the penultimate episode. There’s no time to resolve this in a satisfying matter… on top of Orka’s impending attack and the whole Falaina eating their lives business.
Maybe J.C. Staff has plans to continue adapting this story in the future, but even if that’s the case, I wish they would’ve taken the time to smell the roses. I wish they would’ve taken the time to develop the characters so that I’m emotionally invested in, well, any of them. But right now, Chakuro is a crybaby, Lykos has no personality, and Ouni is just the generic tortured hero. And oh yeah, there’s Suou who just honestly feels redundant. Even if there’s a sequel, I don’t think I’ll be interested. The story is incredibly forgettable. I also wish we could’ve learned more about this world that they’ve beautifully animated. All I know, however, is that there’s a lot of sand. I can’t even pretend that I’ll recall anything about the characters or the world they inhabit if and when the hypothetical sequel ever rolls around.