And now it is time to say goodbye.
It turns out Folken’s kill of Dornkirk had some intended consequences after all in the latter’s part, serving as a dead man’s switch to turn the Zone of Absolute Fortune online. Now, in ghost form, (which is weird since he’s an Earthling, I guess his will was strong enough to exist as a spectre), Isaac/Dornkirk observes with Hitomi the effects of his final gambit. What is it? Makes everybody’s wishes come true.
Unfortunately for everybody, it has them act upon the emotion they are in at the current moment. So it means all these kingdoms which appeared in the last few episodes want to conquer one another now, dissolving their alliance by way of bloodshed. While they do such, we see how Isaac/Dornkirk takes it: in scientific dispassion. Here is a man so wedded to ending conflict by any means necessary, that he will write off wanton slaughter if this is the inevitable result of his actions. Far cry from the Atlanteans, who at least give warnings and seal away powers in an attempt to not let history repeat itself. It seems like reason awake does not stave off the monsters they say its slumber would bring. No complaints here at this overarching threat in the last part of the endgame, for it is within our foe’s character and rationale.
The crux of the episode however, is one final battle between Van and Allen. Despite a tease at a ready, albeit unhinged, Dilandau sallying forth for one last hurrah, he is defeated within seconds. Unfortunate, however his story by and large has already ended the moment we found out he is Allen’s sister. Before Van can deliver the final blow, Jajuka takes it for his superior and wishes Dilandau becomes Celena once more. That, never mind Allen informing Van of Dilandau/Celena’s true nature, is not enough to convince him to stop. So under the Zone of Absolute Fortune, while ‘Dance of Curse’ plays for the third and final time, we have our final guymelef battle of the show. Given the final episode, it does not disappoint, for everything delivers here: the animation, the music (though that goes without saying but anyway), and the emotion. It shows how far Van and Allen have come as swordsmen, and provides a bevy of thematic elements to help heighten the tension. Their friendly rivalry comes back with a force, amplified under the Zone of Absolute Fortune and descends into possible murder had it not been for the two women in their lives stopping them. Celena regains her memories, and Hitomi calls out to Van as her worry and anxiety continue to stress the heck out of him. However, one more “Believe in him” from Folken shakes her out of her funk, and she gets shocked by the obvious.
Hitomi’s final realization she loves Van is an expected affair and is done well enough to not be TOO schmaltzy and hamfisted. The aesthetics are more than adequate to reveal how her uncertainty binds him, and that her ‘concern’ for him transcends the mere concept of being ‘concerned’ for another. It is interesting really, whereas when Hitomi confesses her crush to Allen she lists off a number of traits she likes in him, but Van? She just talks about how he smells like some field. I guess this means her love for him needs no stated rationale, she just does? Van likes to protect her I know that and he’s a bit of a headstrong boor at that, but does he make her laugh? Does he provide a good complement to their personalities that works even if diametrically opposed? In the series, there is never enough time for them to go on a date or something, maybe get some spaghetti, walk on the beach, do her in the ass in an Asturian backalley? You know regular stuff teenagers do nowadays.
Does it matter now? Of course not, for he rides off to save her and utilizes the power of his love to transcend even the Zone of Absolute Fortune, embraces Hitomi after reaching her in the heart of Zaibach, and puts a stop to Isaac’s machinations. Dunno if Isaac fades permanently into the ether after the event, but it’s a good way to show how one can never really steer humanity and the niggling vestige of gravity individuals (especially those in love) create will always put the kibosh on any such plans. It is for the best if people make their own decisions, even when it comes to maintaining peace.
Thus leads us to the ending. Back in the day, I was uncertain about there being no kiss scene between Hitomi and Van to solidify their true love for one another. After all this long while of all these travails testing both their physical and mental limits, and they don’t smooch when it is all over? Sounds absurd I know. However, I think maybe I now realize why. I think Van and Hitomi understand that while they love one another, she still is of another world, and needs to return to where she belongs. Yet in an allusion to perhaps Allen’s father and Hitomi’s grandmother, they still can connect with one another as long as they are in each other’s thoughts. Whether this means she would be able to come back for more adventures, never mind come to him when she is of older age to live as her Queen in Gaea, we will never know since the show leaves it at that ambiguous end. I don’t think it is either a good thing or a bad thing, it is just a thing, and is probably left as such to leave it up to the viewer where it goes after the final shot.
Personally, I’d take what I wrote earlier in the last paragraph, given how every character shot seeing Hitomi off as the credits roll implies a sense of farewell. It’s a very bittersweet moment, for we’re also saying goodbye to this wonderful cast. Everybody is smiling, waving, and are at peace with their new lives, with the exception of Dryden who doesn’t even get a close-up reaction when observing the Pillar of Light. Another irksome feature to a character I remain ambivalent to, but anyway.
Now we’re at the final scene of the show, with Hitomi waiting for her train ride home, a girl who’s been through a lot. She has given up on her fortune telling and has let Yukari run off with Amano, and where does that leave her? To mirror my first episode analysis, the usual shoujo protagonist is a ne’er do well who is thrust into destiny against her will and improves into a better, more mature person by series’ end. Hitomi? She never becomes the goddess of victory, or a warrior princess, or anything like that. She remains the ever pleasant, good-natured girl, except with a bit more confidence now in doing what is right, never mind more conscientious of having faith in others to make their decisions and not letting her anxiety get the best of her and them. In the end? Fair enough, especially at that final shot of her seeing Van in the distance and telling him she’s doing just fine. Then, it pans up to the sky with the moon in shot, and one angelic feather flies to bookend this series….
…Again, fair enough.
Final Verdict: So after like… ten years or so since I last watched The Vision of Escaflowne, is it still one of the best animu ever? In a very subdued, but firm tone: Yeah, it still is. Even twenty years after its premiere it remains one of the most imaginative, exciting, and downright original fantasy animu out there. No other one in that fantasy genre has since matched the fantastical uniqueness of Gaea, from its diverse cultures spanning multiple real world Eastern and Western civilizations to its distinct mecha stylings. The art and aesthetics remain ever great when it hits its high notes, and the Yoko Kanno music still has that kick to it like back in the day. Characters remain ever so vibrant and distinctive, and everybody has their time and place in the show, even if some of them fail to deliver (Dryden, Naria, and Eriya to name a few). I sound like a broken record to be sure, but all the positive attributes are true.
So what are the flaws of this animu even after all this panegyric? Hmm. I admit I am still disappointed with the lack of them engaging Zaibach at the civilian level. Their presence is felt ever so greatly in the series, yet we never got to see how their civilian population lived. It would have been nice to see what kind of world they inhabit compared to Fanelia, Asturia, and Freid. After our heroes go there, the show kinda… peters out a small bit when it returns to the familiar lands of Asturia. Part of the allure of the series is going through these exceptional kingdoms in this exceptional world, yet once it stops doing so (even if it is necessary) the show loses a bit of it what makes it so great. Also, the mechanics of fate during the middle part of the series gets a bit too confusing (which I’ve covered here), leaving me scratching my head as to why certain events happened if fate is kinda fickle like that. It’s also kinda disappointing once again that Akane stated this series was only planned for 26 episodes and not for more. So I cannot grouse or lament what could’ve been, because this world of Gaea is a world I wanted to see more of.
Still, this means they told the story they wanted to tell, and regardless of their creative decisions they pulled out all the stops with making it the best possible product. Few original non-manga animu ever get that kind of sendoff. The result is something you’ll never forget, and is one of the most necessary pieces of animu to watch. Highly recommended, you won’t regret watching it.
It was worth all the pangs and sorrows of being a teenager with minimal income, buying $30 DVDs at On-Cue and Sam Goody, while saving as much of their $5 Off Coupons as possible so I can get the Ultimate Edition of the movie.
Finale – Great track to bookend the series with. The right amount of uplift for an ending where we all wish the series a goodbye. ‘Nuff said.
Notes of Escaflowne:
- TFW all the dead people in life get deh poontang and you’re just okay being Billy No-Mates.
- FIFTH use of Epistle. Amazing how this track kinda lost its luster around this time. Even Flying Dragon isn’t abused as much.
- Man that shot of Dryden I used up over there. Those masters of the final credit sequence in the last DVD are AWFUL. Here’s to hoping FUNi’s Blu-Ray/DVD rerelease fixes it.
- Look forward to my article of the Escaflowne movie soon after I receive the box set from Rightstuf.
- Tune in next week when I resume my coverage of Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans.