What’s the show? ISLAND, Episode 11.
So what happens in this, the penultimate episode? Well we’re back to it being regular old ‘ISLAND’ instead of ‘NEVER ISLAND’ as it was the previous two episodes and man, I didn’t realise how much I missed the sun-drenched sandy beaches of Urashima. But you know what, as the familiar opening credits rolled nervousness—borderline anxiety brewed inside me.
Why’s that? Because I realised—and I don’t know why it’d taken me a week to get to this thought but I’m glad I did otherwise I’d have been obsessing over it all week—I realised that everything that had come previous to this episode was almost voided by the fact that ~actual~ time travel had just occurred, and it’s a scary thought as a viewer to know that all the character development that’d come before was almost completely negated.
I guess that’s true, does that sour the experience with you then? Ah! But see that’s where this show is smarter than I perhaps gave it credit for, or if not smarter than at least more savvy and sensitive. So my biggest, initial fear was that they’d undo all the good Setsuna did for Karen and Sara’s lives and he’d just beeline for helping Rinne out. Thankfully, he still prioritises helping them through their troubles again, he in fact arguably does a better job of it—at least in Karen’s case, Sara’s is borderline.
So it’s not like just a rehash of the first few episodes in a condensed format. Indeed, and that was my second fear, that they’d just reuse old footage and kind of montage through their story arcs, but aside from establishing shots I don’t think any of what we saw was old footage! Again, me probably giving this show less credit than it deserved for delivering the goods.
And so what actually happens then? Well Setsuna wakes up on the beach—like in the first episode—but with the clarity of memory from when he left the future and this imbues him with a confidence and sense of purpose and swagger and there’s no skirting around the ‘why’ of him being here—he lays it all out to everyone he meets, that he’s from the future and he’s here to help. He goes about predicting things before they happen and telling people what they’re thinking because he has all this information from his past life here. If you’ve ever seen the classic 1993 comedy ‘Groundhog Day’ then you’ll feel a familiarity with these scenes, and that’s absolutely a good thing!
So what’s different about how he helps Karen and Sara compared to the first time? In Episode 4 we had what would be considered the adaptation of Karen’s ‘route’ from the visual novel (presumably, I haven’t played it yet). And rather than Setsuna returning to the mainland with Karen and being there for her to learn about her mother’s death, he lets her three school friends fill his emotional support role, and it’s a seemingly minor but important difference. Because firstly it means Karen doesn’t get too emotionally attached to Setsuna, he’s more of a caring friend or big brother now than a love interest and two it gives a substantial narrative purpose for these school friends to have. Also, sharing sad news with people you’ve known for a long time can be much more cathartic than with a relative stranger.
What about Sara’s, you said hers was “borderline” what did you mean by that? Episode 5 was an emotional one for Sara as she learnt about the true nature of her family and of the prophecy that she would die before turning 18 that she was convinced would come to pass. I think we’re led to believe that Setsuna more or less talks her out of this thinking, his superior knowledge of the future winning her over—and her ending now is more to do with her being able to just “be herself” rather than be beholden too strictly to traditions. I think more time devoted to this part would have been nice, but as it stands its good enough.
And finally Rinne, how does he ‘save’ her from the hands of fate? It’s not too dissimilar to how it transpired in the previous pre-NEVER ISLAND episodes, just Setsuna handles things with a bit more sensitivity and the added knowledge of what ‘revelations’ await on the second island assist too. And she starts falling for him—unfortunately this Setsuna is already in love with the Rinne from the future who he had to leave behind and there’s kind of something tragic about that.
But where does that leave this story? Oh, you think things are going to be that simple? ISLAND has a twist up its sleeve and delivers it perfectly right at the end of the episode! Big ol’ spoilers, but then again if you’re reading this far and are worried about those I think you’ve come too far anyway. But turns out that Rinne’s reclusive mother Kuon is working on a time-machine of her own in her room—and the ring on her finger in an old photograph that Setsuna discovers suggests that Kuon is actually future Rinne who came back in time to give birth to current Rinne and *mind implodes*
Wow, okay. That sure is some time travel shenanigans! So thoughts overall? I was so impressed with how this second-to-last episode was handled, maybe my trepidations tempered my expectations but regardless of the reason I’m very happy with what we’ve got and can’t wait for the finale to come!
Previous ISLAND Reviews:
The Island of Mysterious Loli’s – Episode 1 Review
A Loli A Day… – Episode 2 Review
Dreams Of Fan Service – Episode 3 Review
One Wedding and a Belated Funeral – Episode 4 Review
Is Giving Birth To Yourself Possible? – Episode 5 Review
The World Will End With A Bang – Episode 6 Review
A Storm In An A-Cup – Episode 7 Review
An Ocean Between Us – Episode 8 Review
Long Time No Sea – Episode 9 Review
Rinne and Repeat – Episode 10 Review
If you liked my post and want to support my content, please consider supporting my Patreon page, or donating by buying me a coffee on Ko-fi!