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.
The show finally redeemed itself for the couple of uninteresting episodes. It proved that it doesn’t need the action scenes or the fan-service moments to give us a sound and interesting episode. Episode 8 of Shuumatsu no Izetta flowed unexpectedly well.
Japanese Title: 残酷なおとぎ話 Das grausame Märchen
Every story needs to have a backbone in which to lay all the different scenes. From beginning to end, Episode 8 built on the myth of the White Witch to bring us an episode worth watching. The legend of the White Witch is very popular in Eylstadt. Its popularity was the reason that so many people are now placing their hopes on Izetta and her magical powers. But until now we haven’t had the chance to hear the legend. Apart from small story bites here and there, we were unaware of what events fed the legend. Instead of using a few minutes to give us the whole fairy tale in a single sequence, the story is cut into small segments which serve the flow of the episode. I’m not going to use the same tactic, but instead give you a recap of the episode while explaining the main points of the legend.
The story of the White Witch has, like any good story that is based on true events, two versions. The first talks of a beautiful prince saved by a witch, with whom the witch falls in love. The prince fells the same way and tries to bring her back to his castle, but the witch refuses. Years later, the prince’s country is attacked by a foreign enemy and during the war the prince dies. The witch, still in love with the prince, offered the remainder of her life in protecting her lover’s country. Quite the unrequited love, don’t you think?
If you ever desire the power of the witch, I will offer it to you
But there is a second version, a version none of the Eylstadt citizens have ever heard, the version that is closer to the truth than any other: The prince has a wife who in her jealousy betrays the witch and sells her to the enemy. The witch was burned at the stake and later a group of admirers sealed her in the basement.
I am recapping the story because every single detail is tightly woven into the episode’s narration. Rickert is the narrator of the story, as he reads from the fairy tale during the whole episode. He is the impersonation of what the function of a story is, to remind us that the tragedies of reality are unavoidable, to invoke empathy, and to appreciate the true reason that they always end happily.
A story needs a happy ending, because there is no avoiding the tragedies of life
Rickert experiences both empathy and tragedy. He gets to know the people he is fighting, the kind and loving people who are just protecting their country. He gets to make momentary friends and feel a few moments of happiness and joyful embarrassment. And in the end, he reaches the end of his life staying true to his country and realizing why stories, even if their true ending is cruel, need happy resolutions.
Rickert and Bianca experienced more character development than all the previous episodes combined.
As the legend of the White Witch unfolds through his words, its contemporary mirror images play in front of our eyes. Fine is the prince, who it doesn’t seem to have the equivalent of the jealous wife, yet. Izetta is the White Witch. Does the cruel fairy tale foreshadows Fine’s fate?
Plot Twist: The kind old man at the inn is a Germanian spy? How, why??? That was the best cliffhanger of the series so far. I really want to know his story. Why did he betray his country?
Rickett: Unlike Jonas’s death, Rickett’s had an impact in my mood. The scene was beautifully played: the necessary deep monologue, the simultaneous shots, the tragic fall… Because of the emotional weight of that scene, even the sniped death of the second spy was a bit impactful.
Fan-Service: That’s the right amount of fan-service. Hurray for Episode 8. A few side boobs, and a kiss out of nowhere that actually had to do something with the plot. Fan-service should interrupt to entertain, not to fill a gap.
Unknown Girl: That white-haired girl was both creepy and sexy. The way she kissed and bit Izetta was unexpected. I really want to know more about her. Ahh, and Berkmann is awesome. If not for SWJs and fantrolls, I would have taken his side in this whole war thing.
Witch-Hunt: In Germany, sorcery and witchcraft remained punishable by law into the late 18th century. Witch trials were very common during the period of the Inquisition. Even before that, belief in witchcraft and persecutions directed at or excused by it were widespread in pre-Christian Europe, and reflected in Germanic law. Later, it was the Church that condemned witches and witchcraft as pagan superstition. The trials of the Inquisition determined if a suspect was guilty of heretical acts, and the inquisitorial tribunal was required by law to hand the person over to the secular authorities for final sentencing, at which point a magistrate would determine the penalty, which was usually burning at the stake, exactly as the fate of the White Witch.
Loyalty and Betrayal: The White Witch was in the end betrayed by the wife of her beloved prince. Contrary to that, Rickett remained loyal to his homeland, even though his last revelations being relevant to peace and happy endings. Betrayal and Loyalty are both too frail to rely on, but are also impossible to break once committed to them.
Empathy: Empathy can only be felt through books or first-hand experience. The episode gave us both in a narrative that progressed in hope and ended in tragedy. In a war there is no good and evil. There is only pain and suffering.
I just knew that the Americans were going to be portrayed as opportunists. The ambassador agreed to send troops, but only because he perceives both Germania and Eylstadt as threats to the United States of Atlanta.
On the other hand, Berkmann managed to add more awesome mojo to his character. He knew about Izetta’s weakness, and his plan was perfect. He got both the pictures and a little extra, the magic staff’s broken piece.
The music was excellent. Every single piece suited both the tension and the theme of the scene it was accompanying.
I loved the painted stills that were supposedly part of the fairy tale book Rickett was reading.
Now that the Germanians know Izetta’s not-so-well-held secret, the war is going to take a very interesting turn. Probably the American troops will make up for the lack of her magical powers, but I am very curious to see how the battles will play out.
Did you like the latest episode of Shuumatsu no Izetta? Let me know in the comments below, and don’t forget to check the rest of our episodic reviews!
NEXT TIME: The Sellun Corridor Burns Down (ゼルン回廊, 燃ゆ Der Sellun-Korridor brennt nieder)