How nice of our heroes to stand in one straight line.
— Now that the three major factions have stopped fighting each other, we need a new enemy: the Mage Academy. It’s an all-out war between them and the Lords. Unfortunately, we know almost next to nothing about these bastards. It would’ve been nice if the story had built up the Mage Academy slowly throughout the course of the series, but we can’t have nice things.
— I really don’t know all that much about the Grancrest either… other than that its wielder gets to rule over everything. But don’t forget the Holy Grail! Remember, Priscilla is apparently the Holy Grail. Unfortunately, I’ve practically forgotten what the Holy Grail does. I just know that Pope Leone declared himself the Holy Grail… wait, is Pope Leone aligned with the Mage Academy? Holy moly, I can’t make heads or tails of this story.
— Get ready for a lot of exposition in this week’s episode. First, our trusty mages will have to get rid of their wands. Apparently, these wands are being used to track their locations. Not only that, the Mage Academy has been using the wands to listen in on all of the mages’ conversations. Surely, Siluca can just fashion herself a new wand… right? Maybe not. I don’t know anything about how this world works.
— Why all this focus on Aishela? She’s not a mage, right? I actually don’t know much about her. She showed up one day because Siluca needed help and… well, that’s it. Anyways, Siluca is getting everyone all caught up on the terrible news, but the anime keeps cutting back to a concerned Aishela. The show is telegraphing real hard that something is up with Siluca’s dear friend. Normally, I’d be like, “Oh no, not Aishela!” But because their relationship is so woefully underdeveloped, I don’t know what to think of this eventual betrayal. It just feels like it’s coming out of left field.
— Theo is now the Emperor. That’s right — he’s the Emperor with a capital “E.” I know his ascension officially happened last week when both Alexis and Marrine pledged their loyalty to him, but it still feels so sudden. Two months ago, the guy could barely defend himself against Milza, and now he’s the Emperor. So does this come with special powers? Does he get to shoot lightning from his fingertips or what?
— With the newly formed Imperial Army, Siluca hopes to march on Eramu. Does the Mage Academy even have a standing army? Why would a school have an army? I guess this might be where the demons come in.
— According to Theo, this will be a “grueling battle” even though the Imperial Army is made up of Union, Alliance and Altirk forces. But if the Mage Academy was always this strong, why did they wait so long to strike?
— A lot of the mages in the room reaffirm their loyalties to their respective Lords. That’s sweet, I guess.
— This guy, however, wants to void his contract to Alexis. I’ve never even seen his face before this week’s episode though, so uh, see ya?
— Mages can’t cast any magic without their wands? They’re just sitting ducks, then! Sure, they can still function as advisers, but they’re useless on the battlefield now.
— Even though Siluca just explained to everyone that the Mage Academy is out to kill them, a bunch of the Lords still end up bailing on them anyways. They were willing to come all the way out here to fight each other, but marching against the Mage Academy is apparently one step too far. I don’t get it. Maybe they don’t think they can win without their mages, but that’s still pathetic.
— What? You guys just said that you couldn’t cast magic without them! Now you’re backpedaling already? Oh well, at least the mages won’t be completely useless after all.
— But y’know, they’ve been hyping this Grancrest thing all series long. It’s the one plot device that has been consistently talked about, so I think it’s time for Theo to actually fight like a hero. He’s talked the talk, he just hasn’t really walked the walk. Even against Milza, all he did was defend until the Dartanian Prince tired himself out.
— Siluca is happy that she finally gets to work together with her adopted father. To Aubeste’s credit, it almost looks like he has a smile on his face during this scene. Almost. I guess there is genuine love between these two. But like with Aishela, this scene fails to resonate because the relationship between this man and his adopted daughter has almost no development. This adaptation is just too short to explore any of these characters’ relationships to any satisfying extent. These final scenes have no payoff.
— Aishela shows up looking for Siluca, but her face turns sour as soon as she sees Aubeste. The warrior takes a seat at the table and pouts. She’s mad at Aubeste, because he didn’t protect Siluca back at the Mage Academy. I vaguely remember something about our heroine breaking a rule and being sentenced to death. God, I must have heard that months ago. So all three characters have an extended history. In fact, the two girls refer to each other as sisters, and Aubeste refers to Aishela as one of his daughters. Christ, there’s so much history between these three characters that we know nothing about.
— Even this dumb cat thing is back. He’s been MIA since like… episode three, I think.
— Back then, Aubeste chose to follow the rules instead of protecting Siluca. So how come he’s willing to stay with Marrine and march against the Mage Academy? Can we really trust this guy?
— According to Siluca, Aubeste held her and sobbed… a powerful moment that we’ll never get to see.
— Aishela: “But I’m not a Meletes anymore.” I had no idea you were ever one!
— So I’m watching Siluca stare at Theo, and I can’t help but wonder if they’re actually sharing a bed every night now. They have to, right? After all, they’re engaged. But this is anime, so you never know if they want to keep Siluca super pure for whatever reason…
— She seems so content right now, so it should feel like a punch in the gut when Aishela betrays her. But again, woefully underdeveloped characters means everything else will fall flat.
— Oh come on, she’s gonna fall asleep at her desk instead of just snuggling up to her fiance.
— Siluca eventually wakes up to Aishela calling to her. When she emerges from the tent, her friend makes an attempt on her life. Thankfully, Irvin comes out of nowhere to save the day.
— Aishela isn’t hiding anything. She even tells them that she was planning on killing Theo. She’s been spying on them this entire time. Her eyes are full of regret and conflict.
— Lots of exposition, but I guess this is kinda juicy exposition? Eh.
— Priscilla also shows up. Oddly enough, no one cares to kill her even though she’s the Holy Grail.
— Oh come on, there’s now another organization to learn all about. It’s the 20th damn episode, man.
— So this mark on Aishela’s breast means she can’t disobey her masters. If she tries to ignore their orders, she will die. But she can still do a bad job! That’s the American spirit!
— And now she gets to die! Red light means bad!
— Wait, this doesn’t look like dying at all.
— All of a sudden, Priscilla looks like she’s possessed as she decides to heal Aishela. The Holy Grail emerges from Priscilla’s chest and pours blue light onto Aishela’s breasts. The priestess then falls to her knees as if she was never in control of herself that entire time. I have no clue what’s going on anymore.
— But wait, she was in control! Oh my god…
— So Aishela’s saved, but she no longer has her superpowers. Uh, I’ll gladly take that trade.
— Theo is so annoyingly pure. He reasons that Aishela failed on purpose, so as a result, he holds her no ill will. In fact, he still trusts her; he won’t punish her at all. He then uses roundabout logic that Aishela had actually protected him and Siluca. Goddamn, dude. Even these characters find him exasperating. I assume Aishela doesn’t really approve of Theo as Siluca’s future husband, but there’s really nothing she can say or do about it… other than killing him, of course. Theo is almost a Mary Sue. Almost. He’s just not that awesome in combat. Like, he can’t dual wield or chop bullets in half, but goddamn, is this guy a saint or what?
— So Pandora is behind everything. They are even responsible for the incident at the very start of the series. What makes this funny is that they’re just made up of “back-alley Mages” and “dropouts.” They don’t want the Grancrest to come about, because it would mean a peaceful world without magic. The last thing they want is to lose their powers. Makes sense, I guess.
— They’ve been assassinating anyone who might become the next Emperor, but Theo is such an unassuming man that they never expected him to make anything of himself.
— In the middle of the night, a soldier drops by to deliver the bad news: people are literally just going nuts.
— Siluca doesn’t really lay any blame on Aishela either. She embraces the warrior woman instead. What a bunch of softies. As long as you’re not ugly, anime protagonists seem to operate on the philosophy of “No harm, no foul.” But remember, you gotta be hot. If you’re not hot, then you’re evil.
— I like the sentiment being expressed here, though:
Aishela: “I would risk my life any time if it’s for my adorable little sister.”
Siluca: “I don’t think even real families would do that.”
Aishela: “That’s because they’re only related by blood, nothing more.”
— When we see Theo again, the fighting has already come to an end. A bunch of soldiers and mages have lost their lives. Welp. We’re out of time, so we don’t even get to see any of the action. Gotta keep trucking along!
— Dude, that is exactly what I wanna know.
— Despite everything, Theo insists that they march on Eramu. We only have three episodes left, right? This is it, folks. This is the final chapter.
This episode lost me so many times as I tried to make links between what was happening and find some way to justify it, but there’s just too many gaps at this point. It doesn’t make sense no matter how much you try to stretch the thin character and plot development to fill in the spaces.
If the plot was going to be so butchered, they should have done a TRUE work of adaptation, that is to say to rewrite the entire plot (even if it means getting rid of characters and faction) in order to have a well-developed and put-together. Sure, the final product wouldn’t have been faithful to the original story, but at least the anime could stand on its own feet and not rely on the source material to fill its gaps.
* and put-together story