Shuumatsu no Izetta makes a slight improvement on its previous disappointment by twisting the story slightly; but even then, the slow pace is difficult to gloss over.
The king, Finé’s father, has passed. This means she’ll be crowned in no more than two weeks. She tries to hold back the tears, but in a rare moment of weakness, she falls to her father’s bed and bawls. It’s a fine scene: we see the deep humanity of someone who has to always keep face otherwise (and in fact she even tries to do so in this dark bedroom).
Meanwhile, some in Germania are simply unable to keep face. Grosskopf informs his ruler, Otto, that his division was wiped out by… a witch. But this is the man who believes in them and will do anything to see one: he treats Grosskopf “gracefully”, taking his land away and letting him go to direct a prison of his choice. While Elliot, Otto’s aide, is more skeptical, the king himself is ecstatic, and ready to change his plans just to fit whatever he wants to do with the witch.
This is an element of mystery: Otto has this eerie overconfidence about him, but his sheer presence and strange taste in witches make him an cryptic individual who may prove utterly terrifying if a time comes when he must show the world the full extent of his capabilities.
Back to Elystadt, Izetta is humble and flustered as ever: but now Finé’s personal maid, Lotte, has been assigned to taking care of her, and despite the new Queen’s acknowledgement that she cannot force Izetta to help the country, she still formally tells her she is thinking of asking for her cooperation.
We also learn that Finé has a personal assistant, Müller (what a distinctively German name… and he was the one asking for the soldiers’ testimonies in a hurry at the end of the last episode; is he keeping a dark secret? Once again the mystery surrounding Germania’s involvement is deepening) who advised her to keep her father’s death along with the Witch’s own secret under wraps until her coronation. Now, one may wonder what is the Witch’s secret, and it’s quite simple: even when asked by the enthusiastic Lotte and pressed by the doubtful Bianca, she can’t show them any magic, because there are no ley lines below the castle. Ley lines are where magical power comes from, and the source of her weakness: she can’t fight where there are no ley lines. They must keep this a secret to make their new weapon appear as omnipotent; this could influence Germania’s plans as well as the Allies’ in their favor.
This secret had been kept between the witches for centuries, but now a few privileged people know: this includes Elvira Friedman, a superbly skilled lady who’s Finé’s tutor after having worked for newspapers and radios in the United States… she will be in charge of Izetta’s promotion, and has an amazing fashion sense to top it all off. Oh, and she has a passion for fondling breasts and buttocks – could a woman be any more perfect? Nevertheless, just like Müller, she is an outsider; and in these times of war, all such people who have relations with the outside may be suspected. It’s striking how the two of them are trusted completely.
In the midst of all this, Bianca accompanies Izetta to check out the old castle in the former capital. Finé presses her to do as soon as Izetta tells her there should be a secret concerning the witches hidden there. And in fact, they find one – a secret, beautiful room decorated with a statue of the White Witch and various paintings as well as a map of ley lines (certainly crucial information for the witch knowing she’s going to fight in the near future). It’s in this kind of ceremonious environment that Izetta and Finé prepare for their grand unveiling; and though the former’s grandmother warned her that the witch of the legend was a traitor and that she mustn’t become like her, Izetta is ready to do anything for her Queen. It is with a smile that she accepts her new role; and as if to get back to Finé, she makes her promise that she will try to make the world, not just this nation, a peaceful place. It sounds insane, but in this moment the two are closer than ever, ready to do anything for one another. Izetta trusts Finé limitlessly, which inspires confidence in the Queen: and, having promised one another to work for this utopic future, they run toward the moment in which they’ll irreversibly carve a place for themselves in people’s memories all over the world.
This sense of self-sacrifice is nothing new for Izetta, however. When the two of them were but children, and she was accused by a whole village of setting fire to their shed, it was Finé who stood up to defend her, even at the cost of a grave injury from which she still has scars. It was then that Izetta swore to herself that she’d do anything for Finé. Bianca, who had doubted the witch’s true intentions, is moved just like us by the story. We finally make sense of the fragments we’d seen before, and Bianca finds a fellow Finé devotee.
This episode was an improvement in the sense that the mystery surrounding characters like Otto and Müller makes us wonder what Germania’s plan really is; we realize there may something happening behind the scenes less straightforward than mere warring, which could save the story from complete dullness. Furthermore, the solemn ending already hints at a tragic ending: Finé and Izetta are embarking on an adventure far bigger than themselves, and will probably not come out of it unscathed. Nevertheless, ending right before Finé’s coronation is a disappointment: while this episode just prepared us for something quite grand, it feels like we’ve seen nothing but preparations and foreshadowing in four whole episodes. While this episode’s achievement may somewhat renew interest in the story Shuumatsu no Izetta may yet deliver, the show’s progression after the first quarter of its run is hardly satisfactory.
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