Uh, Hail Mary, much?
Okay, this episode had quite a bit going for it. It was better. Not perfect, but better. At least we’re finally getting around to the actual promise of the premise, which is good. And here’s hoping it’ll stay more or less like this throughout the remainder of the series. But. Comma. There are still a lot of problems that need to be addressed. So let’s start with what’s probably this episode’s most significant one – action. Put plainly… it’s boring. And this isn’t the only show we’ve run into that suffers from these kinds of problems.
Now, I’ve made it abundantly clear that you don’t need to have the flashiest action sequences in order to have an effective one. But the problem I have with this series is that for a show about a glorified tournament arc, the action is remarkably uninspired. And I don’t mean that to say it’s poorly animated. In fact, there are some really nice shots and whatnot. The problem is that you never really get to see any of the direct action that should be significant. Characters will get ready to do something, then it’ll cut away before showing them having completed the action. Also, half the time when they’re just standing there, the animation just looks very… unflattering.
On the flip side, the magic effects are actually pretty cool, for the most part. Not all magic effects are created equal, but many of them were fun to look at. And the designs inspired by all of the stories are interesting to behold. Though I do somewhat question Hazuki’s. The primary reason I give it a pass is the way her arc ends up playing out in the episode, which we’ll come back to.
The rest of the episode is perfectly fine in some respects, though I have some misgivings about Yumilia. I appreciate that we learn a little more about her backstory in this, but we really don’t learn enough to really satisfy anything. And at this point her role in the story, I assume, is basically over. Her arc’s more or less complete. We figure out that she comes from what I assume is either a war-torn or monster-ravaged country and was homeless and alone. But, eventually, she met her two little sidekicks, also suffering from homelessness and… that’s it.
We don’t really get the full story as to why she was in that situation, what made her so bitter and antagonistic, none of it. I hope we’ll get more of that, down the line. Because otherwise her actions just don’t really seem like they fit with what was established for the character. And yes, the arc mainly served as a means of showing the parallels between her and Shizuka. But Shizuka’s actions add up, based on everything that’s been established about her. So it’s a bit off-putting.
But then there’s the climax of the episode, which was polarizing, for me. I actually kind of like Hazuki’s revelation and the fulfillment of her arc. Her wanting to make a new story, rejecting the story she’d been given, and all that? That was actually good stuff. We can argue the semantics of her statements against the story of Cinderella until the cows come home. But it’s completely irrelevant. What matters is the actual meaning of the arc and what it signifies for her character.
The part that’s more concerning is the execution. On the one hand, Hazuki winds up not really looking much like any version of Cinderella I’ve ever seen (though I will point out that the blue dress given to her by her family was a clever little nod to the actual story). But I don’t mind this, actually. Like I said, she’s making her own story, in a sense. Or, rather, she’s changing the story of Cinderella to actually suit her and what she’s been through and what’s important to her. This warrants the sort of unique look.
But everything that happens after she transforms is just… odd. Despite changing the story, she winds up using the vast majority of magic that’s directly symbolic of the original. The pumpkins, the castle, etc. When she decides to “create a new magic,” once again, we don’t actually see what she does. She just starts glowing and then Yumilia’s saved from herself… somehow. And this has the unfortunate side-effect of making the whole exchange seem far too easy. But the strangest thing is this weird moment during that bit when her adoptive mother and sister sort of have this moment where they seem to sense her or something. It’s just bizarre and comes out of nowhere. I’m confident they’ll explain it at some point, but based on what we know at the moment… that detail just raises far too many new questions while we’re still hunting for answers to old ones.
So yeah. Good character development across the board. Slightly weak character establishment from Yumilia, but it’s something that can easily be rectified with a little more information in a later episode. The action was overall quite lackluster, save for a few nice shots, and it’s good to see things actually happening. Also, thankfully this episode was devoid of gratuitous nudity. Like I said, I’m not gonna care as long as you can come up with some narrative reason to justify it. This series has yet to do that in any of the instances where it’s been a thing. So it’s nice that they avoided it wholesale, this go around. The episode was a nice bit of Junk Food, despite its flaws. Reasonable fun and decent character work. There are other series out there, this season, that suffer from a lot of the same problems but manage to somehow be less entertaining. Check out my reviews of Black Clover to see what I mean.
If Maerchen Maedchen seems like your kind of thing, check it out on Crunchyroll. It’s Simulcast over there, Thursdays at 11:00am EST. That’s all for me, here, folks. As always, thanks for reading. Keep up the awesome.