King Arch-Duke is dead. Princess (Arch-Duchess even if her subjects call her “hime”) Fine is now the ruler of Elystadt. Izetta gets a bath after waking up in the palace. She also gets beaned by some falling statuary and this is used to reveal her “kryptonite”: Ley Lines. (somewhat like the Japanese Power Spot fixation, an old chestnut in magikal fictions — Charles Stross loves ’em)
Some places have mana, some don’t. The capital of Elystadt is a dry hole, the ancient capital is overflowing with go juice. Avoid spells that spin a copper disc to hypersonic speeds while drawing magic to both spin and hold the disk together. Fear glass daggers.
Izetta, naif that she is, immediately spills all this to Fine’s war cabinet. Acknowledging that Izetta is a powerful force for Elystadt is no problem. Trying to figure out how to use her IS. Instead of turning her into a top-secret kinetic energy weapon the majority of those present are seized by the brain wave of turning her into Joan of Arc. Bad precedents aside, this gives the suspicious spy-dude a chance to introduce a further dodgy character, one who will incidentally crank the fan-service up to 11.
Then there is Fine’s personal bifauxen bodyguard. So far her job seems to be scowling at Izetta, driving her around and wearing a Taka otokoyaku costume.
“Do you weigh more than a duck?”
Once she hears that Fine saved Izetta when they were young, all her suspicions vanish and she almost puts the royal limo in a ditch, so overwhelmed is she with emotion. Let’s hope that the
Princess Arch-Duchess Hime has a ninja combat butler somewhere nearby; so far her bodyguard needs work. Once the secret chamber in the old capitol’s castle is found and the Ley Lines map revealed, Izetta gets dressed up in a new boobage-displaying, thigh-flashing White Witch Returns ™ costume and gets to have a sweet hand-holding moment with Fine (who sports a far more serious royal costume) Some fans have noted that it resembles a wedding scene.
Meanwhile the big press conference looms.
Where to start?
The easy stuff first: Interesting that both Germania and Elystadt are variations on absolute monarchies. For a big-bad Hitler substitute, the Germanian Emperor is understandable. The absence of an Elystadt Prime Minister (maybe it’s that other old guy at the table?), diplomatic corps and/or sundry other government types in the war room is curious. No wonder the Elystadt troops are getting slaughtered. One doddering old dude runs the entire military, along with one spy and a few hangers-on. In contrast to all the military gear drag that the show has been flashing, the lack of Elystadt Command and Control, let alone governance is shocking. At least the Germanians had the stock “Longest Day” useless general staff milling around and making champagne bets and an absolute (-ly) despotic Imperial court.
Elystadt’s power structure would fail a family auto repair business. For a country it is laughable.
Next problem: fanservice.
Perhaps anime has already reached peak fanservice without anyone noticing it. On one hand, the fans, presumed to be fan-boys, are presumed to demand shower/ bath scenes, cleavage, butts and revealing costumes. The aftermarket for otaku trinkets howls for flashy magical-young-woman White Witch Returns ™ costume clad heroic action figures. More curious is the need to dress Izetta in a decolletage revealing short skirt with odd sandals within the castle. Her earlier hospital gown was a forgivable stretch, made up for by her later borrowed boy-shorts, army boots and uniform top. She was both fierce and fetching as she hurled tanks about. Does the animation studio not trust its material? Twitter Campaign: “Give Izetta warm clothing!”
Watching a video clip of Izetta flying formation with lances and destroying stukas (work on getting that twitter vid clip uploaded) complete with heroic chorale accompaniment brought to mind an older martial anime moment; the “Mighty X” instant in the preview teaser (episode 0) for Full Metal Panic The Second Raid. Don’t tell me that Sergeant Major/ Second Lieutenant Melissa Mao ain’t hawt as all heck because she is dressed to match her power and competence. Sure you can later slip her into a slinky evening gown, but only if you have a good reason. (Even so, one instance of evening dress was enough to forever fixate Kurtz Webber) You wouldn’t put Melissa Mao in a schoolgirl outfit when she is leading a strike team from her M9A Gernsbeck.
Or maybe you would have to, in 2016?
Final problem: yuri-ish shoujo-ai-ish forced innocence:
“Magical Girl Anne of Green Gables slaughters invading Nazis to save her childhood friend” is an intriguing premise for an anime. You can do a lot with soulful friendship between two young women, even if you make both characters nearly asexual and drop in plenty of carnage. Qualia The Purple (Murasaki-iro no Qualia) comes to mind; Gaku, given one small stupid power by a clumsy keter-class godling proceeds to work it across multiverses in a heartbreaking descent into homicidal monomania; all to save her cursed friend.
Once you start killing enemies, future enemies and potential enemies are a small step.
Gaku, in Child-homicidal-vengeance-magical-girl mode
Izetta is still charmingly naif, even as her kill count, per some /a/nons is over 50 by the end of the third episode. War is hell. Can you drop a soulful Class-S friendship between two young women into a blitzkrieg and have it walk out all fluffy and sparkling? Izetta wants to try, as long as possible. The show goes to absurd lengths to keep the happy couple innocent and “pure”. Izetta was a persecuted nomadic outcast. Fine as an alt-european aristo was raised to consider marriage and reproduction as acts of political economy. Neither would have much time or place in their hearts for conventional romantic mush.
Keeping this in mind, we can better situate (even if we don’t completely excuse) the ridiculous fanservice outbreaks in episode 4. Enter the very grope-y and at least polymorphously perverse alt-Amurrican tutor to Arch-Duchess Fine: Elvira Friedman.
OH SNAP! Pull the other one, it has bells on it and makes a pretty sound.
Notice me Sempai!
Very funny. This will go a long way towards trolling/ committing a shout-out towards a certain senior activist blogger on all things yuri in Contemporary Japanese (and some western) Visual Culture (also; occasional web-marketing consultant) who will either consign Izetta to the “won’t ever watch this annoying shyte” pile or wade in and rip it apart to find out what, if anything works. Perhaps she will merely note it with amused tolerance. Stand by for a real-world master-class lesson in how to respond to commercial trolling.
And yes, a favourable review on a certain blog wouldn’t hurt Crunchyroll subscription numbers one bit.
Sapphic subtext aside, Ms. Friedman makes her appearance not only to highlight the possibility same-sex interest among young women but to serve as an obvious, worldly and slightly louche contrast between jaded, experienced desire and Izetta and Fine’s “innocence”. Also as chief costume designer and press flack, the odd impracticalities of Izetta’s new White Witch Returns ™ costume can also be laid at her doorstep.
And yeah, it is quite obvious that her and spy-dude are in league. I will howl Fire the Writers! if he is a Germanian mole, but he, and Elvira have to be sleeper agents for SOME other major intelligence agency.
I still think dropping cathedrals accelerated to mach8 on alt-Berlin is a sounder option than a PR blitz. And Izetta was attractive ’nuff in fatigues and shorts.
The studio needs more faith in their product.