Hmm. In what was undoubtedly an effort to end this mini-arc as efficiently and as circularly as possible, did they skimp a bit on some of Asuna’s emotional development? It’s a tough call for me, because I wasn’t entirely satisfied by the ending even though it covered most of the bases. But this is still undeniably an effective show on the whole, with the most potential out of all the shows this season.
As I suspected, we found out more about the backstory of Asuna here: the usual anime trope of a bastard father and outright exploitation being used in a similar way as in the middle of Higurashi Kai–except that in the latter we got an entire mini-arc devoted to the villain’s past life. They really did all they could to make Asuna’s dad as despicable as possible and worthy of death, which is somewhat manipulative. It felt a little easy, really, though I suppose what it mainly accomplished is to show that Asuna is not really a yandere after all–someone who is truly psychotic or devoid of conscience. It was more a crime of passion, a reaction to the suggestion that her own little sister might be exploited. That much is quite understandable. What I still fail to understand is her sudden murder of Shouta, too, who was certainly not guilty of the crimes her father was. Especially when he was protesting that he didn’t believe that she was the murderer. So while she’s not a pure yandere, there was enough in her to make her kill him, too?
One would also think that someone with the trigger-hair propensity to stab anyone in her way would take a bit more than a letter to have a total 180 degree turnaround in heart; she is the kind too, after all, who would leave her little sister all by herself even though she is supposedly devoted to her. Granted, she is new at the stabby business, without the calm, hard heart of an experienced killer. But I think we would need at least one more episode of character development before such a complete turnaround could be “earned,” as we say in creative writing parlance.
It’s also rather interesting to compare this to the arc of Clannad that just ended, in that they both involve “postmortem” letters about how the deceased really, really loved the recipient more than she realized, which changes her outlook on life It’s a pretty hoary trope, actually, the kind a lot of us feared this show might employ more often than not; moreover, it makes a lot more sense in Clannad than it does here, which really seemed like a show that wasn’t going to pull its punches like this. After all, by the end, Asuna is suitably “punished” for her sins; she even talks about how she is probably going to end up in Hell. Which brings me to another interesting issue…
…which is the view of the afterlife/spiritual world in this show. Apparently Fumika and the staff belong not to Western Union but “Gospel Union,” and Heaven and Hell are spoken of in fairly traditional Judeo-Christian terms so far: Heaven is up, Hell is down. Fumika also carries a gun, too–that must be a dangerous postal service she belongs to! (And she wasn’t afraid to pull it out when she needed it…now that’s cool.) Of course, the twist is the post-mortem letters, though they are really not all that different so far from the kinds of letters you see in news stories like this one. The show is probably going to focus primarily on the effects of these letters on the living, but I’m interested too in the metaphysics behind all this. Fumika can’t be the only letter carrier, can she? Is that a supernatural gun she carries, like Alucard’s? That staff clearly has different modes and powers, based on the number codes that Fumika invokes at various times. What kind of authority do letter carriers have? Are they angels, as suggested by Fumika’s summoning of wings? It’s also ironic that the postal agency is called the “Gospel Union” since, as we’ve seen so far, those letters aren’t always bearers of good news!
I think we have here, like in Clannad, another arc that is tightly plotted and wrapped up fairly tightly too (I especially liked the way they juxtaposed her death with the rocket launch), but with some corner-cutting on the way there and perhaps just a little too much timidity. Given though, that the next episode has apparently achieved notoriety for being censored, perhaps they’ll try something new and adventurous again. We’ll see. I’m definitely looking forward to more, because they’ve shown they can get some mileage of this concept and they’ve got a lot more they can do with it.