「断頭台のアウラ」 (Dantōdai no Aura)
“Aura the Guillotine”
For the most part of this episode, the B-team was on the field. However, in Sousou no Frieren, that’s all relative because the children—who are strong—are well. It can be inferred that Frieren acted with knowledge of the impending secondary showdown, and her assessment of relative strength is reasonable. She must have believed that Stark and Fern could handle Lügner and Linie. That or she thought that with Aura the Guillotine (Taketatsu Ayana) and her troops waiting outside the city gates, she had no choice but to leave it in their hands and hope for the best.
Without a doubt, Aura is Frieren’s opponent; she wouldn’t have it any other way. Granat tells the children that the spell known as Scales of Obedience holds the key to her power. She can use it to test her own mana against the souls of others, and the winner takes control of the loser. Of course, that’s hazardous, but she hasn’t lost in fifty years (I can see where this might be headed). Only momentarily can the strong-willed yield. And finally, even after their bodies are reduced to dust, they are all still under her control. It’s understandable why Frieren thinks Aura ought to be removed.
Stark’s plan is to implore Frieren to return and battle the demon B-team (without knowing what or who she is up against at the moment). However, as soon as they exit the church’s barrier-protected area, Lügner and Linie can assault them because of the blood on their clothing. Thus, whether Stark wants to or not, this fight is on, and he ends up facing Linie while Fern faces Lügner. Furthermore, Linie has, to put it mildly, mimicked the movements of none other than Stark’s former mentor Eisen (small world).
Although Fern sustains damage from Lügner’s initial onslaught, she is correct to point out his weakness—he is conceited and doesn’t see anyone but Frieren as a threat. He has undoubtedly more experience and more potent magic than Fern. However, Fern’s apparent strength is her speed—she outpaces Frieren in this regard. Eisen gave Stark his strength by teaching him that you would always prevail as long as you can stay upright longer than your opponent. Every child uses that strength to ultimately triumph, but Stark in particular appears to suffer a significant bodily cost for it.
All of this is very beautiful to look at, and considering the people working on this series, it’s not unexpected that this is the best work Madhouse has produced in a long time. This is more in the style of balletic elegance (at points, I was reminded of Gon’s fight with Hisoka at Heaven’s Arena) than the shock and awe of S1 One Punch Man. Excellent choreography and flawless animation are essential components of a successful battle anime, and while I don’t think Sousou no Frieren will primarily focus on this genre, it’s encouraging to know that it can still do quality work in this capacity.
Full-length images: 36.