This show is a ray of sunshine, isn’t it?
Then again, perhaps it’s on me for assuming this would be a fun adventure.
In this episode, Elaina finds herself at the ruins of a kingdom, the sole survivor evidently being its amnesiac princess, Mirarosé. Elaina learns from Mirarosé that the kingdom is terrorized by a monster known as the Javalier and for whatever reason, the royal castle is the only safe zone from it. Discovering she has magical powers and because a letter addressed to her tells her to do so, Mirarosé decides to fight the Javalier. Because of her self-policies, Elaina doesn’t want to tag along but she does help with the preparations and decides stand by and offer her assistance if need be.
As far as production values go, this is a superb episode. The visual of the ruined kingdom alone does the trick, especially during scenes set in the daytime where the grays contrast with the yellow sun and ash particles descend like snow. Another highlight is the fight against the Javalier. Prose aside, it’s a really thrilling sequence and the animators don’t pull any stops in showing off the variety of powerful magic at Mirarosé’s disposal and how brutally it cuts into the Javalier’s flesh.
Towards the very end of the episode, Wandering Witch‘s darker side resurfaces. Given the suspicious nature of the letter, my guess was that Mirarosé actually wrote the letter and had set this entire battle up for herself. Sure enough, that proves to be the case once Mirarosé regains her memories during the climatic fight. Turns out, Mirarosé’s lover was executed and in retaliation, the princess turned her father into the Javalier to destroy his own kingdom. The amnesia is a side effect of the spell (which I must admit is awfully convenient for the narrative) and the self-addressed letter is to ensure Mirarosé will kill her father and complete her vendetta.
It’s a twisted tale of revenge through and through. Mirarosé lost what meant the world to her and thus plots for the same to befall her father. She forces him to destroy what he and countless past generations had built for eons. Once that deed has been done, she kills him as one final bit of self-gratification. At the same time, Wandering Witch doesn’t shy away from the vanity that comes with revenge. Despite succeeding with her plan, it quickly becomes apparent that Mirarosé is spiraling further into her insanity as she hallucinates her lover and the family she would’ve had with him. Even with all the magic at her disposal, she can’t bring them back. At the end of the day, her victory over her father fulfills nothing and it leaves her feeling empty inside.
Frankly, the weakest element of the episode is the wandering witch herself. I don’t mind that Elaina is largely an observer here. By the nature of the show’s premise and structure, that’s the kind of role you’d expect of the protagonist. Plus, to involve her any further would actually detract from the story. You need Elaina sidelined during in the fight in order to best sell how brutal and personal Mirarosé’s fight with the Javalier is. You need her to not do anything to help Mirarosé to sell vain, empty feeling left by the climax. And really, what could Elaina do to make the situation any better? Her choosing to leave is makes sense here.
And yet, I still wish more was done with Elaina here. The fact that she joins the fight at all ought to say a lot about her. Why did she came to this decision? What makes this different from the last episode where she chose not to do anything? Did the events of the last episode play a part here? The episode doesn’t give a terribly nuanced explanation to this, chalking it up to Elaina simply liking Mirarosé well enough. I guess this girl didn’t like Nino enough to help her. There’s also the matter of what Elaina takes away from the situation. Will this as well as the events of last episode play into her character later on? It’s hard to tell. I don’t mind if that’s the show taking its sweet time (provided that there is payoff as well) but I can’t blame anyone if they feel put off by it. Right now, it just seems like Elaina’s big takeaway was how her encounter with Mirarosé reminds her of a chapter in her favorite book.
Speaking of which, do we actually need the parallel again? I quite liked it in the last episode as a commentary on the relationship between art and the real world. To have happen a second time though, it’s starting to feel silly and a bit on the nose. When you think about it, the episode works just fine without the parallel. Just having Elaina stumble into the situation and learn that some things are just far too into the deep end to be saved is a strong enough story.
Thanks for reading!