What’s the show? Ulysses: Jeanne d’Arc and the Alchemist Knight, Episode 10.
So how’s this episode? You know how sometimes you watch something and you just wonder how things have gotten to the point in the story, and then you wonder how your life has lead to this point, and then you wonder what life is even all about? Yeah… this anime gave me an existential crisis because of how insane it got.
Are you upset? I’m not upset (Always time for a ‘Pop Team Epic’ reference).
No but seriously, is this a bad thing? I think I had an out of body experience while watching this because I was watching me, watching it and I was like, “ah… glad I’m not that guy, this show is terrible, who’d be stupid enough to watch this!” So I’m kind of detached from the whole experience of watching this episode. And I don’t think this is an example of something inherently ~bad~ it’s just something taken to such a ludicrous level that it becomes oddly fascinating to behold.
I think you’re going to need to explain what you witnessed. So Montmorency has summoned tentacle monsters from space which are actually an ancient alien god that was sealed away by Astaroth thousands of years ago and the tentacle god monster possesses Montmorency and makes him go on a murder rampage. And there’s exploding of heads and ripping of limbs and La Hire stabs herself with a sword that’s actually a philosopher’s stone so she can go ‘Ulysses’ mode to stop evil Montmorency. Nicolas Flamel is there but he fucking dies, lot of good he was. Then in a moment of lucidity for Montmorency he has a vision of Jeanne being burnt at the stake, and it’s probably the most graphic stake burning I’ve seen in an anime what with melted eyeballs and rendered flesh. And it’s at this point I wonder if the people making this show realised what madness they’d gotten into when they started this ~vaguely~ realistic historical fantasy anime.
…Okay then… that’s uh… Ridiculous? Nonsensical? Farcical even? So here’s the thing, I like ~weirdness~ in my pop-culture, always have, always will. Weird for the sake of weird, fine. Weird from beginning to end, I’ll take that. A sprinkle of weird over something mundane, love it! But this felt more like a series of ideas that probably felt like a dramatic escalation of events on paper but were translated into–ALL THE THINGS ARE HAPPENING FOR REASONS JUST GO WITH IT DONT ASK QUESTIONS. Which, if handled with a deft hand can work, but this was handled with… well let’s just say a budget that couldn’t accommodate the execution of such ideas, a running time that wasn’t befitting of said ideas and a setting that felt ill-prepared for this kind of leap in logic.
So what did you like about the episode? Funnily enough, quite a bit. This is a case where the parts are greater than the whole. There’s a logical merit into turning Montmorency into a literal monster considering the historic backstory of his namesake Gilles De Rais. The violence was brutally unflinching in an uncomfortable way that added a ‘realness’ to the situation (yes parts were censored, but that’s more about conforming to the TV standards in Japan than the show copping out, it’ll probably be uncensored on the blu-ray). La Hire got a moment to be a total badass which was appreciated since she’s best girl. It’s just a shame there was also a lot of things it did poorly, but this is far from a trainwreck, I’ll stand to that opinion!
Right. So overall thoughts on the episode? In better hands, with a more judicious editor and with significant rewrites this is 100% salvageable, remove the space alien god bits, dial down on the sky tentacles and play up the possession angle in relation to the historical equivalent and you’ve got yourself a dramatic hell of an episode. I mean, far be it from me to tell this show (and its original writer) how to do things, but I think there was too much ambition and not enough focus in this finished product. That said, there’s no denying that what we got was amazingly entertaining even if it was for a lot of the wrong reasons!
Previous Ulysses: Jeanne d’Arc and the Alchemist Knight Reviews:
Full French Alchemist – Episode 1 Review
Blood Is Thicker Than Saliva – 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
Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder – Episode 8 Review
The Sky Is Falling – Episode 9 Review
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