What’s the show? Ulysses: Jeanne d’Arc and the Alchemist Knight, Episode 8.
So how’s this episode? Probably the most coherent episode of the show so far–also funny and dark and emotional and exciting. Best episode of this show so far? Maybe…
That good, eh? So care to elaborate then? We have Alencon, Astaroth and Batard on a journey to find ‘Escalibor’ (that’s how the French say ‘Excalibur’ FYI) when they run into famous Welsh writer Thomas Mallory–who because this is an anime, is a glasses wearing cute girl–not that I’m complaining! She’s taken Excalibur’s scabbard for the English side and so after some shenanigans it ends up back on the “good guys” side. Alencon decides he’s going to hold off the advancing knights and sacrifice himself so Astaroth and Batard can get the scabbard (which holds the power to healing Jeanne) back to her ASAP. And as much as I hate the whole ‘here’s a bunch of flashbacks to endear you to the person who is about to die’ tactic of storytelling it worked pretty well here.
So does he die? Actually no, he’s saved by his older sister Richemont. Which for someone like him who’s always lived in her shadow and been seen as something of a “disappointment” by comparison–is a fate worse than death. But the two reconcile when she acknowledges all that he’s done and the two embrace and it’s a legitimately great scene and one that endeared me to both characters in a way I wouldn’t have expected!
And what about the scabbard? Do they get it to Jeanne? After a tense charge through a raging battle outside the walls of the keep where she’s being kept they bring the sword to her side–but not before we see what hell poor Jeanne is going through in her heart-deprived comatose state. It’s honestly (no pun intended) heart breaking and actually a bit terrifying to see Jeanne all alone in a prison of her own mind with a gaping hole in her chest, screaming for help but with no-one able to hear her. Say what you will about this show but it sells desperation and anxiety pretty damn convincingly!
Uh-huh, but back to the saving of Jeanne, does it work? Well not at first, turns out Montmorency needs to spit in her mouth first.
Do you have to word it like that? No I don’t but that’s more or less what happens, she’s out of his “elixir” so he has to give her some–and kudos to the show it doesn’t actually show it this time, erring on the side of restraint given the seriousness of the moment. And so she comes back alive and Jeanne is alive again and no longer in a comatose hell-world. Yay!
So now that Jeanne’s back the show can move forward. What were your thoughts on this little diversion, what with Jeanne dying and all. While you could make the argument that we’re narratively nowhere further forward than we were pre-death, I’d say that there was ample character development to make the detour worthwhile, not just for the obvious characters who were directly affected such as Jeanne and Montmorency but also Batard and Phillipe and Alencon and Richemont. It was also really satisfyingly dramatic–even though I never once thought she was actually dead it was still richly compelling at times and for that I appreciate it.
Previous Ulysses: Jeanne d’Arc and the Alchemist Knight Reviews:
Full French Alchemist – Episode 1 Review
Blood Is Thicker Than Salvia – Episode 2 Review
A Potent Concoction – Episode 3 Review
Stoned To Death – Episode 4 Review
Purity, Divinity and Power – Episode 5 Review
The Heartlessness of War – Episode 6 Review
The Tower Maiden – Episode 7 Review
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