When I first watched this I did not think much about why Hitomi returned to the first episode and not at a point on Earth where it matches the time she spent on Gaea. All I knew then was that it was for plot purposes and I guess made sense at the time.
Fast forward to now and thanks to keener observation I can see why it makes a lot of sense for them to do that. Recall if you will Episode 17, where Schezar Sr. wishes to see Granny Kanzaki one more time as he lays dying in the snow. When she reappears, he’s confused as to why she looks the same as she did the last time they met, yet surmises such is the case since the power of Atlantis is the human heart. As such, and given how she is unaware of what has transpired since she left (especially since her mom was kinda sorta not worried), Hitomi goes back to where it all began, a place her heart knows and desires.
So yeah, good writing there Escaflowne.
Unfortunately, our heroine can’t enjoy said writing since she still remembers what had transpired in Gaea, and as her focus shifts, so does the episode’s tone. What was once the somewhat whimsical, unexpecting, slice-of-life premiere turns into a self-aware, drearier fare. Remember the rather pleasant string music that occurred when Yukari walks in on Amano and Hitomi? It’s no longer there, instead in its place is a rather deafening silence and the perspective of Yukari, where we see she also has the hots for Amano. Thus it makes the conversation between her and Hitomi all the more tragic, due to Yukari willing to give Amano to her best friend. A good quote that has been going around this time in the series is “People respond to your feelings.” Full circle really, since Hitomi is just as well-loved and respected now as she was then.
The feelings somewhat remain the same on Gaea, despite her leaving and Zaibach knocking at Asturia’s door. The best segments come from of course the male parts of the amazing protag trio. Before he goes after her, Van is confronted by Merle about his true feelings for Hitomi. It seems like only yesterday Merle was yelling at Van not to bother, but now she comforts and supports his desire to see her again. One could say Merle has not much of an arc in this series, but really… she was always that charater. Her hostility to Hitomi has always been her way to protect “Van-sama”, and despite moments where she could have just left her to suffer, she knows Van cares about her and would even go with him to save her if need be. In essence: Merle’s great y’all, there’s a reason they kept her around.
Allen on the other hand, somehow is at peace that Hitomi left, and realizes maybe it is because he sees a bit of his little sister in her. On an extreme, cynical, point it means there’s an incest bent on it. On the other hand, it does fit in with his feelings of loss throughout his life and his overwhelming desire to protect those who cannot protect themselves. Yet his entire life is thrown a curveball when his sister returns to him, and then within a few hours transitions back into Dilandau in front of his eyes. I’ll spare you a possibly socio-political spiel, but it is a good way to bring about some full circles at this juncture. We already can piece the connections between Dilandau and his flashbacks many moons ago about a little girl who kinda looks like Allen’s little sister, and we already known Dornkirk is not shy to conducting experiments on people for fate alteration. All I’ll say is these days, especially had this been remade in America, it’d probably be considered problematic.
What isn’t problematic is this episode, and it ends up like you expect it to. Hitomi follows through that fateful day so she can see Van again, and Van flies to her with Escaflowne in the hopes he can reach her. It happens, and of course, it seems Dornkirk also was hoping for this, and is more than happy to let the gravity of their feelings collide if it means his dream comes true. Even if their return is joyous, it is tempered by the fact there are still machinations unfolding. It means trouble for them…
…It just means we’re about to enter the endgame. Two episodes left. Two weeks left. Let’s do this.
Hikari no Naka he – The fourth and final music video in the first Escaflowne DVD’s music videos, is another piece of deep longing, except for another person. It’s a bit slow moving to be sure, but it captures the mood of this episode perfectly, and is an essential piece of the animu.
Notes of Escaflowne:
- I think it’s a bit of a plot hole, maybe not, but either they’re different lines or were translated differently, what was once Yukari saying Amano will be moving out of country becomes Amano is moving to England where his dad is taking a job. So would his appearance then in episode 8 be out of the country or did he decide to stay (also if it were England wouldn’t he be using their iconic booths)? What of his appearance in Episode 16 in the exact same uniform he was in during the first episode? Did he decide to stay? Did his whole family move or just his dad? Does it matter? Who knows and at this point who cares?
- That blood curdling scream Van has in the next episode preview. That doesn’t sound good does it?