How did you guys screw this one up so royally?
Yup, we’re not quite done catching up with Spring. And as this was the series I most wanted to leave complete, along with a hefty dose of controversy for this episode in particular, how can I resist?
We open with a bit of explanation. Tokaku explains to Haru that the spell that prevented her from killing others has been undone. Implicit is, if she cannot come to kill Haru, it will be Haru’s power that stops her.
Haru is still blubbering about how she doesn’t want Tokaku to be her enemy, but at the slightest aggression from the latter, Haru is all too willing to throw fire at her dear friend. It’s at this point we have to question again how defenseless Haru really is, and how much is behavior she plays at (even if the “play acting” is subconscious) as she “miraculously” trips and avoids Tokaku’s swings. Remember that, I’m going to drag it up later.
When suddenly, Haru is saved by…Tokaku?
The Tokaku that saves Haru drags her away, and Haru is left looking around going “WTF?” The second Tokaku explains that the one trying to kill her is Nio. Remember the two rival shinobi clans? Azuma and Kuzunoha? Nio is of the latter, a group that specialized in illusions and trickery as opposed to the combat prowess of the Azuma.
Of course, we already know this is a lie, that THIS Tokaku is Nio, because we opened on the assassin Tokaku having a flashback. Which kind of gives it away right off the bat so I have no idea what the fuck they were going for. Are we supposed to be cheering on Haru to figure it out? Yes, nothing says gripping entertainment like watching a ditz figure out a mystery you yourself answered five minutes ago. We should have skipped the flashback, it could have left the element of mystery. Remember how last time I jokingly jabbed we knew something was wrong because Tokaku was emoting? It could have actually had us believing that Nio’s fabrication was the truth if not for this flashback stuff. And of course they’ll show us RIGHT at the begining of the coming fight that this Tokaku is an illusion. I’ll explain why this is crap later.
Haru stops Nio (still in Tokaku’s form) and asks how she could be okay with things as they are. Her answer is that it may be true Haru controlled her, but the feeling she has is what is precious to her. I don’t mean to draw anything by this, only that this answer is so nebulous that it doesn’t feel out of place as a resolution either. This whole queen bee bullshit was poorly planned out, makes no sense, and never will be resolved. It’s just a way for us to fill out air time.
Well if you can’t expect to beat the enemy, you know how it goes. MIRROR MATCH! Be just as cheap as that asshole playing the OP character!
They throw some insults at each other that basically amounts to this. Nio says she’s protected Haru all this time, killing her is so out of character it’s stupid.
…Is this one of those bits where you’re being self-aware show?
Tokaku (the real Tokaku) responds that’s a childish idea, she will kill Haru to protect Haru. This stirs something in Haru’s heart, at upon hearing it she instantly understands that that’s something the real Tokaku would say.
Sure. I’ll grant that, perhaps, there is some attempt at a theme here, as how Kaiba was able to detect Tokaku’s riddle answers as being not her own. But in terms of this specific dynamic, it is, also, nebulous. You could insert anything in here and Haru would have the same reaction. “I will kill Haru because the king of the Potato People commanded it!” *Haru gasps!* “I will kill Haru because she needs an enemy!” *Haru gasps!*
I have watched this conversation no less than one dozen times trying to make heads or tails of it. The best I’ve gathered is a combination of things. Most important, Tokaku needs to prove the Primer powers. Not just to herself, but Haru as well. Nio makes a snappy comment that not even Haru knows if she’s using Primer power. Tokaku rebuts that it is BECAUSE Haru had protection maybe she doesn’t know, because Tokaku was a powerful bodyguard (taking the series on its own merits here, objectively we’d have a huge argument about that statement). So by making her bodyguard into an assassin, it would generate a situation which FORCES Haru to manifest the Primer powers. This Primer situation will be this ugly thing around them for the rest of their lives unless it’s resolved, so Tokaku intends to force the issue for good.
Again, not very different from what we gathered last time, only this is more…Tokaku is doing it for the pairs sake as a couple, rather than JUST her own insecurities. It’s a slight difference, and frankly, far less interesting. “Oh look at your andro-lez, she’s totally noble to the end!” I really wanted her to make a decision for herself. Have some fucking agency in her life, wasn’t that the starting point? That Tokaku never desires anything? That she’s too engrossed in the mission objectives?
AND YET! This arguably makes it MORE insidious! As even when trying to disprove Haru has super-powers over her mind, Tokaku is still finding a way to frame this for Haru’s benefit. Perhaps the only way she can overcome the Primer block is to rationalize it away for the GOOD of the Primer. That might be enough to worm past the mental control.
Oh hell yes I’m still asserting that Tokaku proves nothing by the end of the episode. You know how I know? The show could not allow the doppelganger thing to be subtle. They threw out half a dozen tells that the Tokaku saving Haru was Nio. Why? My theory: They tried to do it mysteriously, but when they went back to watch it, no one could tell the difference. These answers are so generic and not built around anything related to character development that I think the writers CONFUSED THEMSELVES, and thus had to insert those obvious tells to make sure we all knew who was supposed to be who. Far easier than making Tokaku’s choice flow naturally from the narrative and be consistent with her world view, that we could point to it and say “Aha! That’s the real one for sure!” But that would imply Tokaku HAD a character to play around with in such a manner.
Well the fights down to hand to hand, and Nio is no match for Tokaku, who kicks seven kinds of shit out of her until the illusion starts breaking. She turns on Haru suddenly, trying to kill her, but Tokaku grabs her wrist, twisting Nio’s knife into her own chest.
…Again, STILL not proving jack effing crap. Why save Haru, Tokaku? Does it really matter by who’s hand she dies? Ultimately no. I realize you don’t want filthy hands sullying your virgin girlfriend, but you’re just proving the Primer right by not allowing her to be killed.
But even before Tokaku’s done pulling the knife from Nio’s twisting body, Haru is picking up the one dropped to defend herself.
Haru has a head monologue thanking Tokaku. And credit where it’s due, she does outright say she loves Tokaku, meaning we outdid Sakura Trick in a department. It’s still important to appreciate when it happens.
What happens next hurts the message the show is trying to send. Haru basically runs herself into Tokaku’s knife, much like Kirigaya did with Chitaru. Tokaku then has a self monologue explaining her decisions, which is a bit more concise than the crap we’ve been getting. If Haru’s powers manifest in the desire to live, if Tokaku can even HARBOR the intention to kill Haru, then the Primer power has no effect on her.
Well Haru’s got a bloody knife impaled into her chest, and as she lays in Tokaku’s arms, we get as close to a love confession the stoic Tokaku will ever give (declaring she considers Haru’s family and her own the same).
Nio appears to die, after letting out some heartfelt words of “you’re made of shit” at Tokaku, sporting a wound in a spot identical to Haru. It’s a bit of a poetic mirror how she must die alone. You know. If anyone was going to die.
As Haru is driven away in an ambulance, Yuri congratulates Tokaku. She has won Black Class! In what is arguably the only really good moment this episode, as Yuri asks what her reward is to be, Tokaku sits silently. We all know it, and no one has to voice it. But after Yuri leaves, Tokaku allows herself to break down.
And now. And now…Now…
Who the hell graduates from the eleventh grade? That’s the big sticking point for me. I mean sure Yuri can rig it so it counts as Haru earning her diploma and what all, but this is the most convincing piece of evidence that this is Haru’s deathbed hallucination.
Well Haru is alive, and so is Nio! Seems one of Haru titanium plates deflected the blade from killing her. Again, as Haru impaled herself, this proves nothing about Tokaku’s intent to kill her if she subconsciously set it up so she wouldn’t be mortally wounded by throwing herself on Tokaku’s knife. We’ve seen examples throughout, all the way back to Otoya, how Haru just manages to slink by with enough athleticism to avoid getting killed. We even saw the example earlier, how she “tripped” to avoid Tokaku’s sword swing. Is there any reason to believe this charge into Tokaku’s waiting knife was any different?
Of course, Nio is alive, too, as I mentioned sporting an identical wound to Haru. So I’m actually thinking Tokaku just fucking sucks at killing people, at the very least she sucks at stabbing them in the chest.
We get a montage of all the girls. Yes. Yes all of them. Even Kirigaya and Chitaru. Yep. I’ll let that sink in a bit.
From the story angle, there is so much wrong with this. Not only for our leads (such as removing that “hardcore” aspect of Haru when she kicks Hanabusa off the wires), but for the character arcs themselves. I’m going to save this for the series recap where I’ll address all the girls individually, as we are approaching a 2k wordcount already, but the best summation is the Chitaru/Kirigaya “deaths” being undone. Those were natural conclusions to their character arcs. Less for Kirigaya so much as her death played a role in Chitaru’s arc. Chitaru had arrived at Black Class to kill Angel Trumpet for killing someone she had determined to be precious. As I voiced it then, she completed her revenge on Angel Trumpet, but could no longer face life without Kirigaya. In a moment she had turned from the righteous knight into the person who had taken a precious life. It was so fitting and just the natural end to her character arc. For it to be undone here is a pity.
Of course, we know the real reason all the girls are alive. Because you are a yuri fan, you have shit taste, so all the girls must be safe and alive for shipping or your fragile brain will cry. And with them all safely home in cozy conditions (Chitaru is the only one still recovering from that huge dose of poison), you’re free to wankfic slash them to your heart’s content. That is the message the show is sending us.
Of course, this was demonstrated in the final credit sequence, whereupon twitter and 4chan and any other social site, everyone was saying “why did they pair the girls up that way? GAWD!”
Calm down, dipshits, it was sorted by roommates. Please pretend to pay attention to the story you purport to love so much.
And yet that’s the big tell, isn’t it? That the fan base hadn’t paid enough attention to the story going on to discern that basic detail about the story, assuming it to be the creators slash-ficing the girls like they are want to do.
And ultimately in that light the ending makes perfect sense. I wasn’t bothered by it myself, not really. It was like the alcoholic friend who downs a full bottle in front of you after their third attempt at rehab. I wanted to hope you’d be better, but shouldn’t have expected more.
So keep the dollhouse, I’ll just be advising people to avoid this one.
See you at the full series recap.