Delving further into Joseph’s mind, Chise learns more about his history and life as Cartaphilus. Read on to see what Karandi and I thought about this episode and catch up and posts you might have missed here.
Now that we’re one episode away from the end of the series, I’ve been trying to look at what the show is doing to tie together its various themes and story points. Although some interesting components begin taking shape towards the end, overall I found the penultimate episode to be a bit too light on the more abstract elements that this show usually excels in.
One thing that I did notice was a greater number of transformations and changes in the accepted forms of the various characters. Starting with Elias we see him take on the bestial form that seems to surface when his more base emotions take over. Spriggan reveals a much larger golem-like form when his anger toward Elias spills over and he tries to restrain the mage by force. Titania also reveals a younger looking body that she describes as a “branch” compared to the “tree” of her true self. All throughout Chise’s visions of Cartaphilus’ past, we see him assuming the body parts and identify of whatever suits his needs. Even Marielle transforms into a bull late in the episode (though I don’t know enough about her character to understand this one).
What all this seems to suggest is a recognition of the “true” self, or at least the one the “self” a person wants to assume. Cartaphilus cannot seem to recall who he really is or why he is cursed because of the callous way he assumes new body parts and identities. Elias meanwhile always seems to have a bestial nature beneath his more composed form; though he continuously tries to convince himself and others that he can exist in the realm of humans. For this reason, I found the scene where he once again refuses Titania to be striking; when he assumes a more bipedal posture while remembering how important free will and self-determination are both for himself and Chise.
Where all this is going to end up is anybody’s guess, but I feel like there is a lot to cover before the series can end in a satisfying way. I know Karandi isn’t a fan of seeing a character as heinous as Joseph redeemed, but I have a feeling we will get it in some form. This conflict between Chise and Elias might have come too late in the series to get a reconciliation that doesn’t feel rushed, but I have high hopes that this series will continue to impress me through the end.
I think Weekend hit the nail on the head when he said I wasn’t the biggest fan of seeing Joseph getting some kind of redemption, and while that hasn’t happened yet it seems to be where this is going. Otherwise, why give him such a big build up and pitiful backstory as well as making Chise feel sorry for him? However, while this isn’t my favourite development in any kind of story, it isn’t exactly out of the blue for this show as thematically all of these characters have been searching for, if not forgiveness, acceptance of who they are. It kind of makes sense that Joseph is no exception and that his character journey would take that path. Though the rushed feeling of this ending continues given how sharply it has sped up events in comparison to the first half of the season that was almost a little bit too slow at times.
Regardless of how this plays out next week, I think this series is one that I will be happy I watched and have enjoyed as a fantasy. Certainly there are particular moments and scenes that emotionally connected very strongly (particularly in the first half). Yet, I can’t help but feel that while Chise has made significant progress as a character, the overall plot has still felt kind of aimless of a lot of the season. That isn’t to say that this is a negative point against the show as exploration of character is a worthy enough idea to build a series around, but it does speak to why I still have misgivings at times about the series given I definitely have a preference for a clear plot and some sense of purpose as we move through a series.
I also felt that Elias’ development as a character was cut short this week through the heavy focus on Joseph. His realisation that he didn’t want Titania’s help in the way she initially offered seemed very abrupt and her turning around and offering to help him anyway just kind of felt like they had no other means to get Elias to Chise. I would have liked Elias to have had at least an episode to mull over his erroneous judgements in the previous episode or two but I guess the series is more or less out of time.
Despite my couple of criticisms, I am very much looking forward to seeing how this show comes to a close as it has been quite the emotional ride.