It today’s episode, some theories surface about Phos’s personality being slowly displaced. Similar to what I talked about at the end of the last article. The topic is merely broached before moving on. For now, it’s just background material; an existential threat that may effect Phos later. Bort isn’t the one to directly notice this. Instead, she’s sizing Phos up for other reasons.
Bort is starting to see the kind of determined hardness in Phos that Bort herself has. However, she’s still very rusty with her sword and overall fighting technique. Bort wants to refine her. Perhaps Bort can now sympathize much more with Phos, seeing a young Bort in her. Bort offers to take Phos under her wing. However, since gems work in pairs with would mean replacing Dia. This doesn’t seem like something that’s done often but Rutile gives the okay only while Kongo is asleep. Phos obviously has some hesitation in overthrowing poor Dia; she has enough self-esteem issues as is.
As usual, regret kicks in. Now accompanied by haunting images of Antarcticite, Phos confronts Dia. Dia is way too nice to take offense to this. She sees Phos taking over for her as a natural inevitability. They manage to come to a considerate understanding, even if Dia is just putting on a facade for now. Bort knows this. It seems for now she is just protecting Dia, who is constantly sacrificing herself in battle. Phos, on the other hand, won’t throw her life away so easily. Phos and Bort are both fighting for more than just to protect their friends who are still here; they are also trying to get those that they lost back.
The tone shifts quickly here, when a new classification of Lunarian emerges. A massive beastly arm emerges from twin sunspots (the Rorschach-like splotches that are the gateway to the moon). This design is unlike anything that’s ever been seen. The fact that it’s new isn’t as striking as the tone of the monster’s design. It being mangy and angry-looking is much different from the slender, smooth, feminine humanoid Lunarians that have this unsettlingly unthreatening smile.
Massive props to the cinematography in this episode taking it to the next level. The time it took for computers to render this… I don’t want to think about how nightmarish a server-side meltdown could have been for the show’s schedule. And props to not having to resort to a recap episode. Sometimes things just don’t work out. The complex texture and movement of the creature makes it feel a bit video-gamey at times. But even so, it flows like a Platinum-grade Bayonetta or Asura’s Wrath cutscene. What’s most impressive is the sense of speed and weight paired with long complex camera shots that stay on the action for a long time without cutting.
As more and more of the creature emerges, Bort gets outmatched and forces Phos to retreat to ring the bell six times. Instead of rallying everyone together this tells gems to hold their position. Probably a smart move considering having all of this creature’s targets in one place would make its job easier. However, Dia is still alone in school. A massive creature roaming around a mostly empty school is horrific enough, but when the expert camera work and animation breathe so much more tension into these scenes it really makes it palpable. The score, compositing, depth of field, everything works in tandem here to create this scene. It feels like there are both nods to Jurrasic Park and the Troll scene in the first Harry Potter book/movie.
My heart was racing more than any moment. With two fake-out deaths and one real one, followed by the most dangerous enemy yet, it’s difficult to tell who’s safe and who isn’t. That said, they still decided to undercut it a bit with of goof of Alex deciding to take a break from work only to be interrupted by Dia being chased by a huge monster in the hallway outside. An spoof on the classic “security guard being too distracted to not notice the danger happening on the security monitors behind him” gag. I appreciate when humor is appropriately infused in intense situations to lighten the load. This has been a quite humorous show from time to time so it doesn’t feel out of place.
Dia somewhat expectedly turns to face the monster, when confronting her own insecurities of not being worthy of Bort and in actuality being saddened when Phos took her place. She almost immediately regrets it. It’s a hard fought match despite her getting thrown around a bunch before bringing out a come from behind victory. She loses an eye, two arms, and a leg but ends up using her sharply broken off arm as a sword. Like usual, her combat style comes at the expense of her own body. Bort finds her at the last moment and consoles her.
Dia admits that she’s glad they split up because from afar, she sees just how much Bort means to her. Bort feels the same way but understands that Dia still makes her worry no matter where she is. It’s bittersweet. None are really able to find the words to express themselves. But then, the monster returns. Being split in two only makes it so they’re now two of them.
This episode was pretty focussed on the Dia and Bort dynamic so I couldn’t manage any stray thoughts this week. Seems like we’re ramping up towards a climax though. Then the episode after will diffuse into something resembling a new arc/conflict that could be saved for a possible second season. So far this sort of feels like a really extended prologue, hasn’t it?