Chains of Fate 「宿命の牢獄(くさり)」
NOOOO!!!!!!!! Damn you cliffhanger DAMN YOU!!!!!!! OMG I completely forgot I was watching a reverse harem otome adaptation. SO MUCH FEELS in this episode there was pure drama so much so that Yui’s existence completely did not matter! Damn it Konparu Tomoko for composing such a good series in this lacklustre genre now I can’t ignore future reverse harem otome adaptations anymore…As it turns out, that final battle is not over Yui. It’s clear now that we’re looking at the bigger picture here (thank you Konparu Tomoko for not doing the cliche fight-for-the-girl thing). Balder’s collapse is due to his inner dark side slowly consuming him from within. The God of Light draws light to him but as a consequence, dark shadows follow and are attracted simultaneously. It takes Balder’s ‘light’ side to keep the darkness away but the more light he draws, the more darkness mirrors his positive strength. So the God of Light is also the God of Destruction and not just any destruction. He’s the God of Ultimate Destruction, capable of destroying everything. Everything. Zeus brought him to the garden academy in the hopes that knowing the human heart will eventually help taper off the dark side – Balder’s alter ego he has no control over, but it seems they’ve run out of time. Ok so for that foresight Zeus I forgive you for effectively kidnapping all these boys back in episode 01. Although, wouldn’t it have made more sense to bring more than 1 girl? Fine, I digress… it’s an otome game adaptation after all…
Loki and Thor have known of Balder’s condition from way back because it’s not the first time Balder’s lost control of his emotions. That’s why back in episode 08, Loki said he’d be the one to kill Balder. That’s the only way he thinks he can save Balder from himself, the only way to protect Balder. Balder’s such a sweetheart and a kind, gentle soul (omg Kamiya Hiroshi you are KILLING ME with your Balder in this episode it’s SO GOOD!) who embraces all things and everyone so for him to hurt and destroy others, he ends up hurting himself for he’d never do that ever. So it’s up to Loki as his closest friend to protect him from himself. Balder’s condition is worsening and that scene in the infirmary where everyone visited him was so nicely done. Apollon and Yui overheard Thor and Loki’s conversation so they know about the impending doom from the God of Destruction. They never shared that information with anyone else so when everyone visited and Balder suggested one last event before graduation, Apollon and Yui had to play along. The whole scene played out as though Balder’s got a terminal illness he doesn’t know and his friends try to pretend they don’t either – heartbreakingly good acting from Miyu Irino (oh there’s more to come) and Hosoya Yoshimasa.
Except Balder DOES KNOW. He had an inkling because of the lapse in memory loss he’s been having and seeing Loki covered in wounds every time it happens. Loki’s prepared a mistletoe dagger (loved that they stuck to folklore with this one) for this day and precisely because they’re friends, Balder cannot let Loki do this to himself. It’s too much of a burden for Loki to bear for eternity. The sunset illustration (gorgeous by the way) really set the tone for the final scene in which the Nordic gods got together one last time. Hosoya Yoshimasa, I am officially now a fan. The desperation and conflict in his voice really almost made me want to cry. Loki learnt to have hope, as humans do in their gods and Thor learnt to forgive. The shackles are removed from them as they’ve learnt fully about the human heart. So why can’t you too Balder?! Don’t jump off the cliff yet! Surely there’s still time!
Zeus and Thoth-sama have run out of ideas; Apollon tells everyone else what’s going on and of course everyone is onboard to help Balder out of this ticking time bomb, because they’re friends. Haven’t we come a long way. But can they really do it? One of my favourite scenes (apart from all that HiroC is in this week) is when Yui couldn’t hold her emotions in anymore and Apollon gently tells her, ‘since long ago, gods and humans have associated through your faith in us. Your faith is our strength’. So believe in them Yui! Do what A-fool-lon tells you to! Miyu Irino, how I’ve missed that gentle strength in your voice acting.
This episode is voice acting gold (the music is equally moving). If you ever need convincing of the job seiyuus do for an anime, this is the one to watch for Spring 2014. The story may be cliche and this genre well, I’m not a fan for obvious reasons plus the art isn’t great (those clumsy facial expressions annoy me so although it’s made up for in that final sunset scene). But all of that is compensated for through sheer voice acting. It makes up for everything as the actors draw you in to focus on just their characters. Everything else can be a blur. Even the little things matter – Apollon crying to Uncle Hades (Ono Daisuke) to defend him when everyone started calling him A-fool-lon and Hades simply saying, ‘ok I understand, I’ll give you misfortune’. Loved it!
Balder, I pray you’re alright. But I think we’ll have to see the boys transform into their godly selves to see that happen in next week’s final episode.
And yes, we still managed to get Thoth-sama’s wall slam in spite of the seriousness of this episode: