That got really, really epic really, really quickly.
As soon as I finished watching this episode, I felt the urge to watch it over again. For a start it was that good – really well-paced action coming together for a high-tension finale. Secondly, a lot was said and done and I’m not sure how well I can touch upon everything that happened here.
When I wrote in an earlier post that this arc hasn’t surpassed the earlier Holy Excalibur arc, I take that back now. I can see that this arc was building up very carefully towards this outcome. The part where the terrorists storm in is kind of contrived but it makes sense in the narrative, at least. It makes unlikely allies out of everyone at the conference.
Before I continue with this, I’m going to make a confession. The politics between all the factions in DxD is really complicated, so complicated I don’t pay full attention to it. It’s difficult to work out who is working for who, especially when there’s all this business about changing sides and compromises and whatnot. Yes, this is like real politics, but who cares. I am watching this because I like hearing Issei’s Sacred Gear yell out “BOOSTO!”
At the same time, terrorists are a convenient plot device. At least I know who the bad guys are for the last episode. But back to the conference. The interesting thing about it is that it gave a more positive spin towards the Church, which has so far in the series been portrayed pretty negatively. When Issei asks Michael why the Church exiled Asia, he explains that it all has to do with God dying. (Oh yeah, that did happen, didn’t it?) The system that God established remained in place, but afterwards trouble happened in the system, so the number of people who can reach salvation became limited. Something like that.
All of this paints a picture of the Church being a bureaucratic but not necessarily an immoral system. I can’t help but be struck by how symbolic that portrayal feels to me. Everything was decided by God and now they’re having trouble working out what to do without a clear leadership. At least it looks like, with the initial instigators of the Heaven-Hell war being dead, the Church members are willing to compromise too.
Oh, and we also got to see Irina again, too. This time around, she’s showing much more insecurity about her position than she did previously. I’ve been hearing from light novel readers that she’s not meant to be here at this point of the story, but I personally found from the anime that her appearance slotted in very well with what was going on. She’s clearly struggling with herself at the realisation that Asia wasn’t a traitor after all. It also feels like Xenovia was directing her words towards Irina when she said that she was satisfied with her life as a demon. I feel for Irina here; she’s seeing her former partner going on about how the devil’s life is the good life and it’s dawning on her that this is not a bad thing, and yet it’s causing her physical worry and anxiety. She can’t let go of all her long-cherished loyalties just like that.
As for where Issei’s loyalties lie, I love how all of his antagonism towards Azazel died when Azazel said, “You can have sex with Rias if you choose peace instead of fighting.” He said possibly the only thing that could have made Issei see his way of thinking. It actually worked too. He is such a politician.
So the terrorists all turn out to be big-breasted magicians who we get to see naked by the end of the episode.
The stupid logic of these terrorists astounds me. They come in when all the strongest angels and demons are gathered in the one place. Their magic is of limited effect too. I guess they were that eager for there not to be peace. Too bad I fear that they are already in the process of having their asses handed to them.
As I suspected, Gasper’s time-stopping skill ended up being powerful in a potentially harmful way. This was something I thought would happen right from his introduction, although I didn’t think he’d get controlled by the enemy. What were you doing, Koneko?!
Seeing the full extent of Gasper’s power unleashed is interesting, though. It reminds me a lot of Rolo’s ability in Code Geass, where he stops motion, not time itself. So while characters like Asia, Akeno and the members of the student council are frozen in their tracks, not even realising that time has stopped for them, the others can get around it because Sacred equipment blocks the skill. That’s a really important caveat – was it mentioned anywhere earlier?
Anyway, the most important thing to get here is that Gasper’s insecurities about himself despite the hidden strength of his powers is such a significant aspect of his character development. He’s powerless to stop himself from causing harm and he just keeps on crying about how he’s such a burden. No one can deny this, of course, but that doesn’t stop me wanting to give him a hug. It’s not his fault. If the enemy gets hold of his powers, of course they’re going to use it for the wrong reasons. Gasper needs to have confidence in his own inherent goodness. He’s not as weak as he gives himself credit for.
Between the two of them, Rias and Issei handled the situation very well. The turnover happened surprisingly quickly, actually. After a quick pep talk from Rias, showing off her benign side, Issei does this awesome badass thing where he cuts himself and sends his blood straight towards Gasper’s face. That was actually much more sanitary than I just made it sound. Anyway, just like Azazel said, the blood has a curing effect and voila, all is solved.
To be honest, this whole thing could have been executed better in order to give both Gasper and Koneko a greater sense of empowerment. As it was, the scene was rushed. There is this sense of the anime trying to skip over some emotional progression just to cover the key plot elements. But the general gist still got across. Although I can’t really complain when we see the return of the Dress Breaker after such a long hiatus. That sort of vacuumed all criticisms out of my mind entirely.
At this point, as you can imagine Gasper’s ability to stop time comes in very, very handy.
Side note: I love how they hung Koneko upside down for no apparent reason other than to conveniently show off her panties.
My Coverage of High School DxD New: