Thanasis is a writer, professional geek, and assistant editor at MANGA.TOKYO. He started watching anime with the mecha shows of the 70s and hasn't stopped since. He loves JRPGs.
Shuumatsu No Izetta is growing in me. From the incredible scenery stills to the amazing piano ending theme (I have it on repeat as I’m writing this review), the anime is focusing on the aspects that make great shows… great.
It’s still too early to judge, this is only the second episode, but Izetta’s magic has already worked on me. I am hooked.
Japanese Title: 傷痕と, 銃声と Mit Narben und Schüssen
The episode starts with the retro-style news video that still reminds me of Legend of Korra. Germania Empire is trying to conquer Europe in a similar setting to our World War II. The show kept the same date (1940), uses our familiar Europe map and roughly follows the events of the real war. Of course, the names of the countries are changed, as is the political scene of each country.
The show seems to be following a linear storytelling format that will be (infrequently and non-invasively, thank the Anime God) cut by flashback sequences. More on why I think the flashback sequence was so great in the highlights section.
Izetta tries to get Fine to safety to treat her injuries after the events on the plane. She is forced to use her magic to destroy some pursuing Germanian fighter planes. After Izetta runs out of magic (it seems to be finite but has a way to be recharged) Fine uses the rifle to shoot the last remaining plane before falling into the forest. I’m not an air-fight expert, but I’ve played my share of Ace Combat and I still rewatch Area 88 at least once a year, and I have to say that the battle here was amazing. The planes seemed realistic from the drawings and the animation to the sounds they made. The music stepped up a bit to accompany the rising tensions and I was actually worried about the two girls. But the true highlight of the scene was the way they made me care about the Germanian pilots as well. Their casual chat in the beginning established them as human beings and not faceless enemies.
Magic at this age of science?
In the forest, Izetta finds a group of Elystadtian soldiers retreating after a lost battle. While the battalion’s doctor treats Fine’s injuries, the plot spreads into three distinct time frames: the time when Izetta travelled with her grandma as nomads, the time she spent with Fine when they were children, and the present in which Izetta acts as the narrator of all past events. I had doubts on why Izetta has such a deep infatuation for Fine, but these scenes eradicated them all.
The episode ends with Izetta swearing her undying loyalty to Fine and Eylstadt. If you ask me, they should end up a couple. I mean, Legend of Korra did it. No sweat.
Izetta’s Flashback: This episode should be given to the rest of the production companies as a blueprint of how to properly incorporate a flashback sequence into your story. Izetta never leaves the present and during the flashback serves as the narrator. There is a reason this flashback is here. It has a connection to the present and it serves as a reminder that our actions are always connected. Like in Cloud Atlas, the past and the present are always connected and affect the future. No need for superfluous scenes, no need for unnecessary dialogue. We need to know why Izetta has such a strong sense of loyalty towards Fine and that’s what we get.
Ending Theme: The ending theme, Hikaru Aru Basho e (光ある場所へ To a Place With Light) by May’n is one of the most beautiful songs used in an anime I have ever heard. I am overeacting, I know, but I have a soft spot for powerful piano ballads and May’n vocals just add to an already catchy melody. The first few notes remind me a little of Dir en Grey and Pain of Salvation ballad-like songs.
All the Scenery Drawings: All of them. If you have ever been to Switzerland or any Alpine country, then you already know how amazingly accurate these drawings are. The snowy mountains, the clear waters, and the green forests. The architecture and the feelings of royalty you get from the World War II costumes and the castles and the mansions. Eylstadt is beautiful.
Blitzkrieg: The word is German for ‘lightning war’, a method of warfare where the attacking force spearheads the battlefront with a combination of armored and infantry formations and close air support. It relies on swift powerful attacks whose purpose is to surprise the enemy and dislocate them. It’s a technique whose prime purpose is to unbalance the enemy by rapidly changing the method of attack.
Barrage balloon: Those zeppelin-like balloons that were floating above Landsburgg, Eylstadt’s capital, were used for real. The series is striving for realism. They are balloons tethered with metal cables, used to defend against air attacks by damaging the fighter planes on collision with the cables, or at least to make the attacker’s approach more difficult.
The episode was really good, but I want to pay special homage to the music. From the opening and ending themes to the fluctuating tempo of the soundtrack according to the scene, the sound was amazing from start to end. During the air-fight scene it was tense and fast. When Izetta used her magic with Fine when they were children, the soundtrack was witchy and magical.
I don’t think there is any doubt that Izetta is probably the white witch of Eylstadt legends, but I am really curious to see how the writers will treat the already impressively interesting cast of characters.
Great second episode for Shuumatsu No Izetta. Highly recommended.
NEXT TIME: The Sword of Heaven (天翔る剣 Das Schwert des Himmels)