Saturday, January 4, 2014

Kakumeiki Valvrave 24: I Loved Not Wisely But Too Well

In the end, I blame myself.

I talked myself into believing that in one final episode Valvrave - plucky little Valvrave with all its camp and absurdity and high drama - could somehow muster up the wherewithal to answer my questions, to tie up the narrative threads, to offer up a satisfying epilogue.It's the final episode, after all, that makes or breaks a series, that can justify or subvert everything that came before it.So I hoped for something that would cap off what has been an enjoyable series properly.In the end, though, what came out felt, as I feared, rushed and incomplete.Sad, certainly, but also lacking in a lot of ways.If the ending to Code Geass was the ultimate mic drop (and you know Lelouch is all about that), then the ending to Valvrave felt like the microphone slipped out of someone's hand and rolled offstage before anyone caught it.

I really wanted more for this series.

***Sorry for no screen grabs - I'm away for the holidays and didn't plan to post at all initially, but all the feelings compelled me to write.

Let's talk about the good first.Haruto died, yes, but I think that was expected; he'd made his peace with his fate.L-Elf's presence with him in those final moments, his declaration that they were friends - and Haruto's instinctive response - felt right and satisfying.Q-Vier very much deserved to die for his narrative sins, and did so, and so did Cain, with his eyepatch flying off and his hair coming all undone: quelle horreur.I found X-Eins death heartbreaking, but satisfying in its recognition of H-Neun - the series closed that circle quite properly.On many points, on several Big Immediate Plot Points, Valvrave did exactly as expected.I found that satisfying. I particularly like that L-Elf was allowed to live, and to apparently do so happily: his growth has been one of the defining factors of the series.

In other regards, though...I wasn't really pleased with this rushed wrap-up to the series, nor with the way it raised question it seemingly never intends to answer.

Who is the child from the flashbacks?A-Drei and Saki's?Some Valvrave-given hybrid of L-Elf and Haruto? L-Elf's with...someone? Why did Haruto rape Saki and no one else when he needed to "feed"?Why did Kyuma ship Haruto and Shoko with his dying wish, for the viewer to never see them reunited or really reconciled?How can we just stick Shoko in a Valvrave suit after that mess, or imply that the Valvraves have changed without explaining what that means? Why turn Kriemhild into the leader of the rebellion with an apparent bond with H-Neun and then give her no chance for a real role?

So many questions.

I also found the epilogue lacking in emotional punch.Were it not for L-Elf and A-Drei I'd have wanted it gone.I'm glad that A-Drei survived and will seemingly go on to do well; this rarely happens for my favorites and his arc felt good and developed to me (and, to my amusement, there seem to be faint implications of A-Drei/Saki with that ending).I'm happy, as I mentioned previously, about L-Elf, and the Satomi wedding...sure.Why not?But Shoko's presence in the finale felt hollow and tacked-on to me, as though the series wanted to celebrate the bond between her and Haruto without having recognized it was pretty much shattered and never fully reconciled.You can only pretend a romance was a grand romance if it was a grand romance, and I'm not sure you can call theirs a grand romance when one of the perverse comforts of the series is that Haruto forgot it all ever happened before he died.It's great Shoko wants to memorialize him, but...doesn't it feel a bit "too little, too late"?And are we honestly supposed to believe that Akira and Saki can now happily integrate into this new society knowing how the others students viewed them and how Shoko responded to them (even if it was for the sake of duty)?One of my struggles with the series is that the sacrifice of the dead Valvrave pilots was so huge, and yet never felt as honored by those for whom they sacrificed as it might have been.

I still loved Valvrave, and I looked forward to the episodes every week.I suppose I should be content with what I've got - a live L-Elf and A-Drei - but maybe it's a testament to my affection for this series that I wanted it to be more than what it was.
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