Warning: Contains spoilers!
This was a great episode, the saddest the series has been since its inception. I am extremely excited for the finale next week.
Summary of this episode
Continuing on from last episode, Cranberry fights Swim Swim and Tama. After a brief flashback to Cranberry’s story, Cranberry figures out Swim Swim’s weakness and attacks her, but doesn’t expect Tama (notably, she’s been suffering and crying through all the deaths) to dig a hole through her upper half of the body. Tama finds Swim Swim, who’s transformed out of magical girl form. Immediately, Swim Swim kills Tama for finding out who she really is.
We flashback to Tama’s past: she’s always been a kind girl, though not really smart. Everyone in her family except for her grandmother made fun of her, but her grandmother dies. Tama finds new friends in Ruler’s group, and we get to see Ruler’s kind side as she helps Tama to become a magical girl.
The rest of the episode shows the effects of PTSD on Snow White and Ripple. Ripple wants revenge for Top Speed, but Snow White tries to stop her since no one else needs to be killed. She won’t be swayed. Fav tells Ripple Swim Swim’s weakness, while telling Swim Swim that she should beat Ripple to make her her new subject, since everyone else is gone.
The only critique I can think of at the moment is that Cranberry’s back story was glossed over in 1 minute and 9 seconds, right before the start of the credits. For comparison, Tama’s took 3 minutes and 27 seconds. I would’ve liked more, but at least it was just long enough to convey that Cranberry herself saw her colleagues be slaughtered in front of her eyes before becoming Master of this first phase in bringing girls from another world to the World of Magic.
So let’s get started. I’ll be listing all the stuff I thought was going on in this episode.
A stab at the main story
Here’s more speculation, but I think it’s a lot closer than what I’ve been saying. Fav’s bored. He may have been messing with the system the Magical Girl Raising Project since before Cranberry, and is probably why a demon used to test magical girls from the World of Magic itself and killing everyone but Cranberry. That, or it just happened, and he found it much more entertaining than all the boring good stuff he’d done so far. It’s a little ironic he’s calling other people Master, but that could just be a term these folks use for the moderator of a particular project.
It’s a case of a bored god/higher letting things escalate for their own amusement, a storyline that’s been done before. What differentiates this one from other series, though, is its emphasis on battle royale.
As we saw in this episode, powers can help out in unexpected ways. Tama can dig holes, but viewers were probably assuming it was only through soil. Thanks to this, one of the “weakest” magical girls took out one of the “strongest.”
Efficient, surprising deaths
I think I’m finally fine with the idea that there wasn’t an awe-inspiring reveal in terms of origin story, unless next episode blows my mind. What’s been working for its anime are its deaths and unexpected twists.
In this series, people just die very suddenly. There are no drawn-out power struggles, no surprise revivals from the dead. All the people you bothered to care about are dead, and will remain dead—no matter how much you suffer. Thanks for taking out everyone BUT the girl we wanted to take out, episode 11. I came in hoping that Cranberry would finally rid us of Swim Swim once and for all. But nope, unless a (potentially) crazy Ripple rips her to shreds next episode, we may not be having any of that.
This episode finally took the time to show the effects of past deaths on two of the characters, Snow White and Ripple. As many of us (at least me) have been despairing since day 1, Snow White questions why she’s still around if she hasn’t been doing anything, remembering La Pucelle. Ripple reacts in an entirely different way by crying that she will avenge her friend, so please, Snow White, give her any information she can. Snow White’s fast adherence to her beliefs still goes through, as she tries to dissuade Ripple.
The use of bright, happy colors (see: featured image) for showing Top Speed’s flashbacks/visitations to Ripple was especially effective in highlighting her motivation.
Unexpectedly heartwarming moments
As I mentioned before, I sometimes feel that the characters are a little too black-and-white for my taste, but this time around they were much more fleshed out than before.
One of the best parts of this episode was finally seeing how Ruler wasn’t just a haughty something-or-other. While Swim Swim’s been focusing on lessons learned from Ruler, Tama actually remembers the good things that Ruler did for them. In fact, Tama’s entire backstory was a nice light in the middle of everything. Though I didn’t really pay that much attention to her before, it made the episode have that much more impact.
Another scene was when Cranberry was jarred that Swim Swim was such a small child—causing a moment of hesitation that led to her death. Cranberry has been portrayed as only wanting the strongest of the strong on her team, but probably didn’t even realize that these girls could be so young.
Magical girl transformation
This episode also marks the very first Sailor Moon style magical girl transformation since the first episode featuring Snow White. What could it mean?