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Pirates of the Burley Griffin
A schedule bears the same relationship to reality as Astrology.
Thirty Days of Escaflowne - Day 5 - The Seal of the Brothers - Il Giudizo 
11th-Mar-2011 09:29 pm
Anura
In some respects this is an episode as exciting as it is contrived to meet the demands of the plot.

The recap of the previous episode establishes that the card for this episode is Judgement before resuming the pursuit of Van by Dilandau's Dragonslayers.

Who, as it turns out, are faster and armed with ranged weapons. Van and Escaflowne are captured relatively easily by the resident nutter.

Allen hides the Crusade whilst conducting repairs and tries to work out where the floating fortress will be hiding for political reasons.

It is at this point that Hitomi offers to use her powers to locate Van. Allen is more than sceptical. He basically pats her on the head and tells her to not bother the Knights.

Hitomi does not react well and demands the opportunity for her powers to be tested.

Allen agrees to the test as the scene cuts back to the fortress. Dilandau has search parties out as Folken extracts Van by placing his hand on the gem housing the energist.

Incidentally there is an error in the dub translation in this episode - Dilandau names Van during the pursuit in the dub but is still surprised to recognise him when Van is removed  from Escaflowne.

Hitomi's test is to do a reading for Allen and the Judgement card appears here as a fairly pointed commentary on Allen's relationship with his long gone father. It turns out that doing a reading on Allen was perhaps not a particularly bright idea - there is a lot of angst buried there - but Hitomi is so determined to convince Allen that she pushes on anyway. Fortunately Allen is convinced before she spills too many of the beans in front of his troops.

Family is the theme of the episode as Folken is revealed as Van's brother. The reunion is somewhat... strained. The sedative needle in Folken's prosthetic arm was a nice touch though.

Oh, and did I mention that Folken has wings that he can make appear at will?

Back to the Crusade and Hitomi with help from Merle successfully dowses out Van's location and the assault is soon underway.

This is where the episode becomes contrived. The problem here is one of asymmetrical warfare: Zaibach has more and better toys,  as well as more troops. In terms of scale think of a patrol boat (the Crusade) attempting to board and storm an aircraft carrier.

As history has repeatedly shown if the disadvantaged force fights the same way as their opponents, then the disadvantaged force gets trashed nine times out of ten. And having this be the tenth time really wouldn't work.

To make it work a curious Dilandau repeats Folken's actions in touching the energist housing. Escaflowne objects to the unauthorised access but the resulting explosion does not injure Dilandau or damage Escaflowne.

It does however at just the right second do just the right amount of damage to disable the floating fortress, allowing the Crusade to get a boarding party across. It helps that the Zaibach mount ranged weapons on the guymelefs but not on the fortress.

Yeah. Right.

[Aside: Actually there is an explanation for it that comes out much later in the series but for now you're left with a massive contrivance]

A further issue is that Zaibach have no personal ranged weapons other than crossbows...which means that the attack is a melee and Allen's seven troopers are much better at it. You could almost call them a magnificent seven. :)

During the escape Folken returns Van's sword.

Hitomi also has a vision of Van being struck down from behind.

However Hitomi's 6 meter long jump to reach the fortress to go in search of him isn't contrived. A previous personal best of 5.4 metres is highly credible for a good 16 year old female athlete. Adrenaline adding 60 centimetres or so when the consequences are two lives on the line is also quite reasonable (at least in my mind). Merle's slightly stunned reaction of "bakemono" ("she's a monster") is quite amusing.

The jump is very carefully done - it is clear that Hitomi has measured her run up and knows exactly where her jump off point is. I'm not sure if this saves the episode or simply highlights the earlier contrivances even more.

Naturally Hitomi arrives just in time to warn Van about Dilandau sneaking up behind him In the resulting clash Dilandau ends up with quite the impressive cut on his face. Dilandau does not handle this well, and the next time Van meets Dilandau could be unpleasant as a result.

The group complete their escape and set course for Palas, the capital of Asturia.

Despite the criticisms above I actually do like this episode but mostly for Hitomi's part in it: she stands up for herself, displays significant emotional and physical courage, and her athletic abilities are a nice piece of realism in an otherwise over the top episode.

There is some key information hinted at, and it moves the plot along nicely.

Overall a good episode but not one of the best episodes.

Day 1 - Fateful Confession / The Tower
Day 2 - The Girl From the Mystic Moon / The Ace of Serpents
Day 3 - The Gallant Swordsman / Death
Day 4 - The Diabolical Adonis / The Hanged Man
Day 5 - The Seal of the Brothers / Judgement
Day 6 - City of Intrigue
Day 7 - Unexpected Partings
Day 8 - ???
Day 9 - The Day the Angel Flew
Day 10 - Memories of a Feather
Day 11 - The Blue-Eyed Prince
Day 12 - Prophecy of Death
Day 13 - The Secret Door
Day 14 - Red Destiny
Day 15 - ???
Day 16 - Dangerous Wounds
Day 17 - Lost Paradise
Day 18 - The Guided Ones
Day 19 - The Edge of the World
Day 20 - The Gravity of Destiny
Day 21 - Operation Golden Rule of Love
Day 22 - False Vows
Day 23 - ???
Day 24 - Reaction of Fortune
Day 25 - The Black Winged Angel
Day 26 - Storm Premonition
Day 27 - Fateful Decision
Day 28 - Zone of Absolute Fortune
Day 29 - Eternal Love
Day 30 - Looking Back at The Vision of Escaflowne
Comments 
11th-Mar-2011 12:23 pm (UTC)
I don't really notice plot contrivances unless they involve Stuff That CAN'T Happen, or that violates what was established earlier (i.e., if the Zaibach fortresses had been shown bristling with point-defense cannon and the troopers were all carrying uzis).

Hitomi's Jump is one of the most crucial character establishment sequences in the entire anime. We knew she was an athlete; this is the point where the RELEVANCE of that is rammed home, both the point that it makes her more useful than one thinks, and that it has taught her discipline and that she is willing to risk a great deal for others. It shows that even though Hitomi isn't nearly the square-jawed hero that Allen is or Van wishes to be, she's not going to be a passive object just carried here and there. She will TRY to act.
11th-Mar-2011 12:36 pm (UTC)
Hitomi is quite simply the best part of this episode.

From standing up to Allen to the way that the jump is handled, she is just fabulous.

OK, looking into Allen's past was maybe not the best idea in terms of how much pain the cards revealed but at the time it was the only way to convince him, and she was clearly going to tell as much as she had to.

I guess my problem with the fortress is that it comes right after yet another demonstration of how good the Zaibach guymelefs are.
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