This is one of the weaker episodes of Escaflowne for me. To be sure, it isn’t TERRIBLE, but after a rather exceptional cliffhanger (which in the original Bandai release bookended Volume 6), it’s underwhelming. Picking up right after her surrender, Murphy’s Law is revived due to Van’s intervention, and messes up Naria and Eriya’s luck, revealing the flaws of the fate alteration experiments. The events of the first few minutes are sortof anticlimactic, not just because of the aforementioned cliffhanger, but also after that Next Episode preview with only one line from Folken: “Why don’t you understand, Van!?”
Instead we get a subdued episode for the most part, where everybody is at ends with the events yet not at each other. When Hitomi blames herself for the action out loud, Dryden dismisses it and said it would have happened anyway, and instead of Millerna being mad at Hitomi for lying, she also kindof blames herself for ever asking for a fortune from her. It’s a nice subtle dichotomy between Dryden and Millerna in that scene, whereas Dryden is adamant with making decisions for himself and believing people will make a choice anyway, whereas Millerna weds herself to Hitomi’s fortunes because of her uncertainty. I guess this thought is a product of being in a cynical age, but you would think they would catfight or have a verbal spat given the circumstances, thus providing the crux of the episode. Yet no, Asturia’s capital has taken too much damage, there is too much aftershock from the attack, and there are more better things to do than wallow in self-pity.
The crux instead falls upon one of Folken’s catgirls, Naria. After being called to retreat by Folken, the messed-up luck kicks in, causing her Guymelef to malfunction and crash in Asturia. Instead of returning, she instead resumes her task to capture Hitomi and bring her back to Folken. As Van searches for her, and Allen laments losing another person he cares for (another good moment), the episode focuses on Hitomi trying to get a read on Naria and why she is doing what she’s doing. I won’t bore you with the details about how it showcases why Hitomi is decent, because it is already obvious. What may not be obvious is it being the first time she delves into an antagonist. We get a bit more of Naria and Eriya’s past, which is much more brutal than what was shown in earlier episodes, as well as Hitomi finding out her attachment to Folken. Thankfully, they do not become too chummy at the end, and serves as an okay reminder for Hitomi on how her anxiety can kindof be a buzzkill. Naria and Eriya’s past is okay I guess, for another unfortunate group of souls like the doppelganger who Folken saves from perdition.
Who is not at peace however, is Van. He does quite a good job character-wise here, and after almost losing Hitomi is more open to expressing his disdain for Folken. The convergence between his confrontation with Folken (where he refers to him by name instead of “Brother”) and Naria and Eriya’s return is a suitable way to bookend the episode. Van is confronted by his brother’s disappointment at how he refuses to understand (you can feel it with Jouji Nakata’s delivery), and the catgirls’s expression of sadness that this is the case. Ultimately nothing comes from it, as in one final burst of ‘luck’; they drive Escaflowne out of crashing floating fortress, and then both die in Folken’s arms. Had they been more standout characters, this would’ve had more oomph. Here? It is somewhat minor sadness with a strong dash of indifference. The point it seems for their demise, is to have Folken defect from Zaibach. We see this in initial snippets based on his uncertainty of transfusing luck blood to them a few episodes back, but now after seeing his two catgirls dead, it’s become apparent it is time for him to go.
Now we have three different factions at play: Our heroes, Zaibach, and a rogue Folken. I already know what happens next, but it’ll be nice to see where it leads after this rather mundane episode with some nice creative decisions and a nice climax.
Scrappy – Naria and Eriya’s leitmotif since their first appearance. Nice jarring strings that portend a potential ill fate for anybody that gets in their way. Can’t really bid them farewell without showcasing this one.
But today, we have TWO.
Shrilly – If I remember correctly this episode is the first time we hear this track. It has a nice start with that mad pipe, but it gets better when the strings come in, and we get another rendition of the “Ask the Owl” melody. That kinda clinches its place here.
Notes of Escaflowne:
- Not much today, I’m afraid. Just that I’m REALLY looking forward to the FUNi remasters of the show. Look at the washed-out quality of Bandai’s Volume 7.