Aight. Now that Van and Allen got their little spat out of the way, it’s time for them to confront the true antagonists of the series: Zaibach!
…Or it should be if what happened at the very tail end of last week’s episode came true. Instead, we’re reintroduced to catgirl Merle (who was last seen at the end of Episode 2 yelling her signature line), then Hitomi gets stricken with fever for the first half. Another nice, slow, burn is to be had here. Why? It leads to some great moments with not just the aforementioned ladies, but also Van and Allen. While Merle can be unsurprisingly considered annoying, take note of how Van reacts when she’s brought in by Allen’s men. The moment when Merle tells him the fate of Fanelia, he holds her tightly and with sadness. At the very end of her story, he reveals his gratitude how she is alright. This is a nice tell on how her character may not be as annoying as thought. Through Van treating her seriously and with kindness, the series tells us to do the same as well.
Hitomi falling ill leads to a conversation with her and Allen that reveals the rather sordid past of Mr. Schezar. While his past may give him cause for resentment, it is nice to see how Allen copes with it the best he can, and does not let it compromise his chivalry. Hitomi then gives a very great dimension to her, revealing how self-aware she is of herself. Even though she confessed her love for Amano a few episodes back, she catches herself smitten with Allen and feels guilty about it. This other moment of vulnerability right after Allen’s openness of his past life is welcome in maintaining Hitomi’s overall decency as a person, aware of her own propensities as a 16-year-old high school girl. Humanity. I love it.
However the biggest highlight of all these character moments between one another is in the aftermath of Dilandau’s attack. Van meets with Allen in the middle of the burning fort, and is upset by the latter’s resolve to withdraw. Drawing his sword on Allen, full of anger that he would do something after the deaths of his subordinate, he swears he will fight Zaibach to the death. Allen bluntly shoots down the idea, and tells him a way that Van was never taught. In layman’s terms the lesson is pretty much how tactical retreats are okay and that being a samurai king doesn’t mean always fighting one’s enemies and instead y’know… protecting people. It doesn’t seem like much but when you think about it had Balgus not died, Van would’ve learned this lesson in episode 2. Yet here we are, in another burning citadel, and Van wants to repeat history again, but thankfully Bishounen Balgus is there to save him. Hooray.
I can write a lot here regarding Dilandau, but what can be said about him without taking up your time? He’s a psychopath, and his euphoria as he burns shit down (complete with iconic Minami Takayama-infused “BURN! BURN!”) is unforgettable. It’s such a terrific build up, starting with his open defiance against Folken’s call for restraint, then Allen’s observation of his murderous eyes, his relentless assault not just on the fort but when the protagonists escape, then ending with his chase of Van that concludes in an artful cliffhanger. As his (and the episode’s) final lines take place, the final flourish to Dance of Curse is played and then… fade to black.
Just thank god anime releases are better than back then, because you would’ve had to wait a whole two months for the conclusion if you supported the official release.
Machine Soldier – Played during Dilandau’s assault on the Crusade, this piece, symphonic in its cacophony, is played. Unlike the more classical and exotic themed BGMs in the past entries, this is more an industrial piece. Fitting, of course, since Dilandau and his Dragonslayers come off as an indiscriminate mass of deadly metal and magic when they lay waste to their enemies (at least Dilandau does anyway). It’s not a track I’d listen to regularly, but all the same, memorable whenever it’s played.
Notes of Escaflowne:
- There’s a small instance where the Ocean dub kinda corrects itself on the casting of Dilandau’s minions. When they’re at the edge of the waterfall, one of his minions sounds like a young man. Then when Allen defeats him he then reverts to his child voice. I guess that smack Dilandau gave to him a while earlier corrected that.
- I like how the reveal of Escaflowne’s Dragon mode is in the same episode that reveals the Zaibach Guymelefs also fly. Yes yes, you saw them descend from the sky in the last episode; but that wasn’t really flying. That was falling with style.
- That’s enough notes for right now, I think I overdid it the last time.