Friday, March 3, 2017

Rewrite Episode #20 Anime Review

I've had enough of living this way. I'm going to quit standing still.

What They Say:
Kazamatsuri, a modern, well-developed city renowned for its burgeoning greenery and rich Japanese culture, is home to Kotarou Tennouji, a high schooler least privy to the place's shared values. Content to fill his pockets with frivolity, the proud and nosy boy whiles away his time pestering the self-proclaimed delinquent Haruhiko and indulging in his amorous feelings toward the oddball Kotori.

Equipped with the superhuman ability to permanently rewrite any part of his body to multiply his strength or speed, Kotarou is naturally drawn to the supernatural. One special meeting with the lone member and president of the Occult Research Club, the "Witch" Akane Senri, leads to Kotarou reviving the Occult Club by recruiting Kotori and three other members: the clumsy transfer student Chihaya, the strict class representative Lucia, and the unassuming Shizuru. As Kotarou unveils hidden secrets of each member of the Occult Club through their shared adventures, he will inevitably encounter a fate that only he might be able to rewrite.

The Review:
(Please note that the content portion of the review may contain spoilers)
Oh man, this was a trip. After leaving Japan in an attempt to run away from his past, Kotarou joins up with a mercenary group comprised of Guardian supersoldiers, clearing out war zones and protecting villages stricken with poverty. Picking up right from the first scene of season two (With Kotarou about to kill a man for the first time), we are thrust into a world much different from what we've grown accustomed to. And while this war scene seemed incredibly unusual and misplaced when we first saw it, it changes that view entirely this time around and sculpts something so powerful that it dwarfs anything else this season has done.

Kotarou, who has taken on the last name of 'Bondo' and created an identity with half of true-self still present, has a hard time fitting in with the rest of the mercenaries in his platoon. His only comrade amongst the many, a congenial ex-javelin thrower named Luis, works as Kotarou's backbone, holding him up while everyone else tries to drag him down. Incapable of stomaching the fact that he killed a man just hours ago, Kotarou is pushed to the brink of suicide and is only stopped via the interjection of a poor village girl named Yasmin. Yasmin's character becomes incredibly important right off the bat as she essentially saves the life of our protagonist. In the several scenes that follow, Kotarou and Luis spend their free time playing soccer with the village children, enforcing the idea that those two are the only ones that really care.

Rewrite, this time around, absolutely nails character introductions and gets us to care about these children right away. This is exactly what makes the following scenes so powerful.

Kotarou and Luis, in their second year at the village, are asked to head an assault on a nearby narcotics factory and eliminate anyone on the inside. The factory, filled with monsters from Gaia summoners, poses no initial threat as the Guardian supersoldier begin mowing down everyone and everything on the inside. Eventually, they encounter a large, armored monster they are incapable of cutting down. This prompts Kotarou and Luis to go find the monster's summoner in order to neutralize it. Terrified when he finally enters, Luis fires at the first noise he hears. But when the camera finally pans to where the noise came from, we discover that Luis had just unloaded his assault rifle into the same group of children he and Kotarou had been playing with for over a year now.

Yasmin and several of the other children still left alive go on to explain that working in this factory was the only way they could make enough money to feed themselves. They didn't join Gaia of their own volition, they were simply forced into it in order to stay alive. In a panic, Kotarou and Luis hide Yasmin and the other non-critically wounded children and report back to their commanding officer, who then executes all of the children they did not hide. After the officer leaves, Kotarou and Luis grab their children and make a break for it, saying they refuse to carry on how Guardian wants them to.

In the middle of the wheat field that Kotarou and company are using to escape, Luis reveals why he joined the mercenary group. Apparently, he got into a fight with a friend of his and wound up killing him. Running away was just how he decided to punish himself. Luis, in a last-ditch effort to save the children, asks Kotarou to run away with them as he takes on the role of defending the back line, tossing javelins into allied helicopters and cutting them down. Reluctantly, Kotarou accepts and Luis winds up falling, albeit not after an incredibly heart-wrenching goodbye from one of the most important characters thus far. Shortly after escaping, however, Kotarou discovers that the children are all gravely wounded, prompting him to finally use his 'Rewrite' ability in order to save them. This goes on to prove that Kotarou cares more about these children that he does himself in shortening his own life to save them.

In the scenes to come, Kotarou returns to Guardian without the children and, in monologue form, announces to us that he has set up a sort of self-sufficient orphanage for them. Kotarou continues to take on Guardian missions and, under the guise of a solo operator, saves more children forced into summoning monsters and provides a new home for them with Yasmin and the others. In his final visit to the children's' new home, Kotarou shares a heartfelt goodbye with Yasmin, who goes on to explain how Kotarou has allowed all of them to lead a life where they can smile and have fun. Our protagonist then vanishes, leaving Yasmin to break into hysterics as she understands this is the last time the two of them will ever meet.

In Summary:
This heartbreaking addition to a deteriorating series singlehandedly reinvigorates the entire show thanks to a one-off visual anecdote detailing the most intense segment of Kotarou's life. Luis, Yasmin, and the other characters who make their first and final appearances in this episode are just as memorable (If not even more so) than every other character we've encountered thus far. With themes demonstrating the evil of man and how there is no true 'wrong side' when it comes to war, this episode is the most impactful we have seen and will continue to stand out as a crowning moment for the Rewrite franchise.

Grade: A+

Streamed By: Crunchyroll

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