Oh Lapis Re:LiGHTs. What a gem you’ve proven to be. And yes, that is pun intended.
I have a feeling this series will go down as one of the most random anime I ever picked to cover in episode reviews. In a more normal or eventful or better season, I’d probably only consider writing a series review (and that’s assuming I’d watch the show in those circumstances). Hell, I wasn’t planning on covering it when I previewed the show back in June. That all said, I am glad I ended up covering Lapis in its entirety. It can sometimes be fun discussing a show that’s flawed albeit still good and Lapis, for all its flaws, has been an enjoyable ride.
The series finale wastes no time getting to the big event the show has (sort of) been building up. A ton of magical beasts converge on Mamuceaster (their designs really need to stop reminding me of Kingdom Hearts) and a ton of anime girls perform onstage to keep the crowds occupied and hopefully raise enough mana needed to wipe out the horde. Eliza shows up as a last resort, despite doing so apparently being life-threatening, but she ultimately doesn’t need to perform thanks to the timely intervention of LiGHTs.
On paper, this final Orchestra sounded stupidly epic and the execution very much lives up to that promise. There is a huge tonal whiplash as the show shows Chloe and her forces holding the fort (and said forces dying in horrible, graphic ways) and then cutting to our idols performing J-pop to an unaware crowd. There’s admittedly no getting around that and it does get the point across but there’s also no denying that it’s pretty extreme. That being said, the J-pop itself is a lot of fun to sit through. You get treated to a marathon of songs, all of which are catchy and highlight the various genres each team performs in. The rapid pace at which these songs play out even helps sell the gravity of the situation. Yokohama Animation Lab puts on an admirable effort in animating these scenes. The CG animation for the characters looks the best it’s ever been and the neon graphical effects the characters cast are aplenty and dazzling. The highlight of this entire sequence of course is when LiGHTs joins the concert. Them skydiving into the scene and then performing on hoverboards is so hilariously dazzling, I love it.
Surprisingly but also to the show’s benefit, the medley of J-Pops only takes up a little over a third of the episode. The rest of the running time is actually dedicated to resolving all the different loose ends in the story. LiGHTs reunites with everyone while Tiara and Yue formally befriend each other in an admittedly heartwarming scene. In the process however, Tiara’s tiara glows and upon touching it, she passes out and awakens in some sort of astral plane. Eliza soon appears and reveals that the accessory is a stockpile of mana that houses the memories of the princesses that previously wore it. She then explains, as Tiara also learns via her memories, that she used the accessory to transfer her life force to Tiara’s and save her life. While Eliza clearly survived the ritual, she can barely speak now and has actually been communicating via a modified version of Maryberry’s voice synthesizer (I can’t believe that actually got incorporated in the plot).
It’s all a lot to take in and I can’t deny that it’s a little clumsy (THEY ACTUALLY MADE THAT MAGIC TABLET IMPORTANT) but it does work in service of the characters. For starters, this justifies the guarded and emotionless personality Eliza has been putting since her introduction and that does redeem her character a bit for me. Between this and getting Tiara expelled to protect her, it’s clear that Tiara means a lot to her. It just so happens that she cares to a (very) huge fault. Meanwhile, this reveal gives Tiara the opportunity to stand up to her sister. Eliza still desires to take care of her but now is the time for Tiara to return the favor and figure out how to restore her sister’s voice. I especially like that Tiara stresses that she’ll achieve her own kind of magic to solve this problem, essentially saying that she’ll be own witch outside of Eliza’s shadow.
And that’s where Lapis Re:LiGHTs ends. Tiara now has a concrete goal in her career as a witch. Eliza accepts that she can’t look after her sister forever and lets her do her own thing. LiGHTs is allowed back into Flora Girls Academy, even getting promoted to a higher rank (since you know, they saved the damn town). The door is pretty much left open for more.
And honestly, I am totally down to see more of this series. Lapis Re:LiGHTs is now without its flaws. In particular, the story is horribly aimless even as it regains its focus for the second half and the cast occupying it is far too big. Even so, I really enjoyed my time with this series, be it the setting or the wacky hijinks or some of its characters (Tiara especially). Lapis Re:LiGHTs is a lot of things but at least for me, fun happens to one of them.
Thanks for reading!