After 13 beautifully animated episodes, we’ve finally reached the finale!
During the last parts of the episode, Pecorine, Karyl, and Kokkoro were whisked away by Labyrista when they found themselves in over their heads during the fight against the giant shadow monster that had been unleashed on the castle town. Awaking inside what appears to be the castle, Kokkoro stumbles across a painting which shows Pecorine as the princess of this kingdom. Soon, the princess herself shows up and reveals her backstory to Kokkoro (and an eavesdropping Karyl), basically explaining that when she went on a journey to understand the plight of her people first hand, everyone in the kingdom had their memories about her wiped and a usurper took her place.
This explains why she is so expressive and curious with the guild, and why she drags them along, adventure after adventure. She’s desperate to make strong, interpersonal connections so that those dear to her won’t forget her again. Given that she has no idea how everyone was made to forget her, her fear for abandonment and being forgotten is justified.
This also explains why she insists on seeing the world as a better place than it actually is. Because it’s only by believing in something that it can become true. And because she has lived that way, it’s not only her guild which she’s made connections with. The common man loves her far more than the royalty at this point, to the point where they antagonize the city guard in an attempt to help her. In a very real way, she has become the people’s princess.
In the end, she recognizes this. Despite losing her old family, she’s made a new one that loves her just as much.
Karyl on the other hand, is torn between her loyalty to her master (AKA Pecorine’s usurper) and her new friends in the guild. It’s always been a matter of when she’d have to choose between the two. What’s interesting is that, in this episode, she makes the hidden third choice…
Knowing Pecorine’s tragic backstory and knowing that her master is responsible makes it clear to her how torn her loyalties lie. And she’s reached a perfect balance, she can’t choose one over the other. If she fights the giant monster and destroys it, then she’ll be betraying her master. If she simply stays out of the fight and lets it kill Pecorine and the others, she’ll be betraying them instead.
And thus, the choice is made.
The only thing she can think to do is to fight the monster alone and die, leaving neither side betrayed. The catch: she’s not allowed to make such a choice; especially not when Pecorine is around. What Karyl fails to realize is that the interpersonal connections she’s built with the guild are a two-way street. Unlike her master who demands loyalty and gives nothing back, the guild loves Karyl for who she is–not what she can do for them. They wouldn’t sacrifice her for any reason. And this display of affection is enough to get her to move directly against her master’s wishes in the heat of the moment and defeat the monster alongside her friends.
Well, specifically when Yuuki shows up but let’s not dwell on that.
But while the monster is destroyed and a bit of character development is established for Pecorine and Karyl, this doesn’t feel like the final, climactic episode of the series.
In fact, it feels like a normal, regular episode. The story carries multiple loose threads that aren’t really resolved in this supposedly finale.
And that’s the problem: the series as a whole feels like a prologue or perhaps the first half of an opening chapter to a bigger story. In the grand scheme of things, very little that has been set up is resolved. Yuuki still lacks the vast majority of his memories, Karyl is still torn between her master and her friends, and Pecorine is still an outcast princess with an evil usurper taking her place. Even worse still, I’m still confused by basics like the rules of this fantasy world itself and the proper nouns the characters throw about without explanation (“Princess Knight,” “Re:Dive,” etc.).
This anime feels somewhat like a wild goose chase with no satisfying ending. Now, was the trip a fun one with colorful characters, good humor, and astounding animation? Sure. I just wish that we’d arrive to a proper conclusion; a complete story that tied everything together. Instead, what we’re left with is a six-hour-long advertisement telling us to play the smartphone game if we want any answers (which, by the way, isn’t even released in English).
Disappointing? Absolutely. A waste of time? Maybe not.