Can there be anything worse for somebody who ships two people, especially in real life, than a machine that can alter fate in such a way to put one with ANOTHER person should not be the other’s bae? In my more advanced age where I am aware of the various idiosyncracies of popular w00b culture, be it dating sims or the aforementioned ‘shipping, I cannot help but think playfully in this regard. It is good fortune, however, Escaflowne handles it with quite the serious tone, since Dornkirk is quite aware of Hitomi’s powers. It is also amusing since Dilandau and his Dragonslayers were the first to notice her, yet the former being incapacitated and the latter being all dead put the kibosh on Dornkirk being informed beforehand. Is this ANOTHER element shifted around during the series shortening? Maybe? Who knows, who cares, what we get is still good.
For the first time we get a small time skip in the show, with this episode taking place three weeks after the previous one. Everybody’s back in Asturia, taking this new free time to rest and relax. Idleness, however, is the devil’s playground, since it means a lot of free time for contemplation. The people who are suffering the most from this? Allen and Hitomi. It seems during these three weeks, preparations began for Millerna and Dryden’s wedding. Allen, given his baggage for the late Marlene and the rather open disapproval of Princess Eries, seems to be somewhat shaken by this on top of what has happened in the past few episodes. Hitomi, on the other hand, despite how the wedding means Allen will remain single, can’t help but be decent. When Millerna confides in Hitomi about how Dryden would be a good husband in an unsuccessful fashion, Hitomi’s initial reaction is to tell the Princess to stop lying to herself. It’s a wonderful character moment for those two; for it shows how far they have come from their first meeting, and also to show their current state of mind. One is focused on being honest with oneself and avoiding deterministic futures (no doubt due to her close encounters with it), and the other is focused on being resigned to an unwanted fate. How this develops as we get to the wedding and beyond will be interesting to see.
The more interesting development however comes from two others: Van and Princess Eries. Even after all that is happened, Van is still a socially awkward goober. His attempt to profess his ‘love’ for Hitomi, only to have it backfire when he goes Episode 12 on her again, saying he only wants her for her power. Expected to be sure, but it is bolstered by how it is juxtaposed by the Atlantis Machine reacting to the event, and coupled with a preceding statement by Folken of how Van won’t ‘seal the deal’ so to speak. Shows a lot about how Folken knows his brother, even though he left him so long ago. There’s also a neat comedic element, given how Van goes all “I need your power”, the machine loses steam, with all the engineers notifying it without any awareness of what is going on.
While Princes Eries’s presence is much smaller compared to the rest of the cast, she has an exceptional moment with Allen at his mother’s graveside. It shows how despite her disapproval of Allen’s actions, she does hold some modicum of respect and sympathy towards his family, as showcased by her leaving of a bouquet of flowers Allen’s mother loved. It’s a great dimension to the character, since it shows she isn’t some moral scold who thinks Allen is some promiscuous dandy. She understands his sadness and his past, yet tries to draw the line between him and Millerna.
Anyway, while this is all fine and good, this isn’t the important part of the episode: it’s the part with the kiss. As I noted jokingly in the first paragraph, the Atlantis Machine is able to ‘ship’ people together when a myriad of factors are in place (DNA samples [hair, you pervert] and uncertain hearts). Folken, being the cunning man he is, makes the logical conclusion of how manipulating the uncertain teenager heart of Hitomi to rend her and Van apart. Instead of physically separating the two (which may make it worse), he instead tries to have her ‘seal the deal’ with another person: which is of course, Allen. The entire scene from start to finish is perhaps one of the most ominous kissing scenes ever. It hits all the notes signifying nothing from this event is right, almost doesn’t go through with it, and when it finally does, you feel as if everything has changed forever.
…Or at least until when the series ends. Either way, you know shit got real in the romance department.
Chain – I think I’ve already covered what makes this track exceptional in the last part of this review. It’s ominous, it’s intense, and insinuates something downright terrifying is happening. The threads of fate are being manipulated for an unjust end, and it is done through a most intimate event: a romantic kiss.
…I think I’ll make sure to rip that scene for good measure just to show how well done it is someday.
Notes of Escaflowne:
- This scene. Another scrapped plan due to the series shortening? Escaclones? Shame really.
- Nice touch in the Japanese version. Folken refers to Hitomi by full name as “Hitomi Kanzaki” in the Western style, not the Japanese style of “Kanzaki Hitomi”.
- When one thinks about it, this is the most elaborate Dating Sim playing machine ever.