What’s the show? Ulysses: Jeanne d’Arc and the Alchemist Knight, Episode 5.
So how’s this episode? I’ve made mention in the past reviews that this show can be tonally uneven, going from dark and violent subject matter, to light-hearted comedic shenanigans within the space of a scene. This is not one of those episodes, this particular episode has serious subject matter and carries it through with the required ~tone~ until the end–and I appreciate the show’s restraint in that regard.
Okay then, sounds serious, what’s it about? So the fairy taxidermiding jackass La Tremoille has sided with the inquisition (a.k.a. The church) and has convinced them that our loli protagonist Jeanne has slept with the devil to acquire her superhuman powers, so the church orders Jeanne to submit to a ‘test of purity’–which basically means the bastards want to rape her to see if she’s a virgin or not. Never throughout the episode is this joked about or spoken lightly of, it’s treated as something horrible that shouldn’t ever happen to anyone.
Wait, it doesn’t actually happen does it? It almost does, the townspeople are rallying outside Princess Charlotte’s castle demanding that Jeanne undertakes “the test”. Montmorency tries to calm the crowd down but fails and so it’s Jeanne who comes to her own rescue, threatening to kill every last one of them but not going through with it because she can’t stand for pointless deaths after her own sister was killed during wartime. And you know what, I appreciate this show for keeping Jeanne’s chastity in-tact, not just for her own sake and not having to endure such a violation but because it would have been so easy to inject unnecessary drama by adding a gratuitous “rape” scene for the hell of it.
Easy now. I know where you’re going with that and now’s not the time or place to bring up that other show. I don’t even mean to draw those parallels I’m just saying too often a rape scene is used without justification and just added for the sake of making something edgy and dramatic but the restraint this show had not only by finding a way around it, but also treating the mere notion of the ‘purity test’ as something so abhorrent and criminal.
Fair enough. Anything else you wanted to add about the episode? Aside from the aforementioned, which pretty much takes up the whole episode. The pacing is all over the place here, events move forward very quickly, important plot threads being summed up in mere sentences–it’s very clearly a heavily abridged version of what happens in the light novels–which for some things is fine but other things feel like they lack the dramatic weight that a more faithful adaptation would give. I’m only assuming that’s the case of course, I haven’t read the source light novels so maybe they were just as uneven paced as the show is! Regardless this is still an enjoyable and in the case of this episode, narratively dramatic series that’s showing itself more than capable of standing alongside the more traditionally well-received anime this season.
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