With Germania rethinking their attack strategy, Finé and Izetta find themselves with some down time, which is quickly spent on giving Izetta ballroom dancing lessons and questing for pie. Meanwhile, Germanian special forces move to strengthen their position, and Eylstadt’s own covert operatives move to counter them by plugging a potential intelligence leak with deadly force.
So. It has come to this.
I fear that, one of these days, anime like this is finally going to snuff out the lingering flicker of hope I’ve been trying to maintain towards the medium.
I spoke in our second bi-weekly podcast about uneven quality in anime, and this episode is a perfect example of what I was talking about. I suppose a word that more broadly captures my intended meaning might be “tone” rather than “quality”, but, personally, the wholly unnecessary insertion of flagrant fanservice and exaggerated moé claptrap does a pretty thorough job of shattering my suspension of disbelief and does real damage to my opinion of whatever it takes up space in.
Longtime readers may recall me being baffled by The Heroic Legend of Arlsan’s use of breast envy as some sort of charm point, and that show had such a subtle and restrained invocation of the trope that I’m still not 100% sure they were doing it on purpose. This show, on the other hand, would be bad enough if it weren’t even trying to disguise its pandering – but it’s trying and failing, which, if anything, is even worse. Elvira’s cunning plan to teach Izetta to waltz involves cramming her into one of Finé’s dresses, even though Elvira herself is literally the only person alive with enough intimate knowledge of both of their figures to know beforehand that it’s not going to work? Pathetic.
At least the scene in the pie shop is less… overtly weird? Like, I get that it’s an embarrassing revelation that your personal bodyguards have been letting you believe for years that you’ve been deceiving them so that you could enjoy the finest pie in creation with the worry-free innocence of a schoolgirl – and so that they could watch – but reacting so violently as to a) raise your voice enough to attract the attention of everyone in a crowded café, b) stand up abruptly enough to eject your pie from the table, and c) unravel your disguise, seems a little much. This only makes the masterful job she does turning the situation to her advantage all the more jarring, and pulling out the musical big guns for the café speech only made it seem more absurd.
The most potent mood whiplash, of course, occurs at the end of this mostly frivolous episode, where Seig murders one of his country’s own soldiers to ensure the security of a state secret (the release of which was approximately half his fault to begin with). What strikes me about this is that the death of a named, recurring character seems intended to let us know how high the stakes in the show are, but I feel like this message is undercut by being at the tail end of an episode largely about boobs and baked goods. I also don’t feel like this occurrence affected the overarching plot in any significant way – Germania doesn’t know anything Berkman hasn’t already predicted, and Eylstadt’s army is out one private (and one spy, I guess? He might only exist for the purpose of this arc, though). It feels… hollow, somehow. I’m curious to see if the amount of time that the staff has spent showing us Seig’s absolute commitment to the greater good is going to pay off.
I gotta say, folks – at this point, I’m finding the most likeable characters to be the Germanian special unit, and I don’t even remember two of their names. Heck, Berkman’s on thin ice on account of I can’t tell whether or not he’s trying to figure out how Germania captured Izetta in the first place.
The most endearing thing in this entire episode might be Lotte carrying her footstool around on her back.
Also: I’m very much looking forward to seeing what adorable disaster the Izetta on the Weekend comics are going to spin out of all of the fluff that happened the main cast in this episode.