Note: This post may include spoilers, so be cautious!
In Alice & Zouroku episode 5, A Home to Return to, Minnie (Miriam) C. Tachibana proves that’s she’s not as easily beaten as it appeared in the last episode. Noriko Yamada puts forth her stalking power with surprising results! Shizuku Ichijou invokes her maid-side and shows the potential of single digits. Sana treats Zouroku Kashimura to a spectacular view. A insurance company for container ships nears bankruptcy.
What’s In This Post
Ichijou has Minnie C pinned to the seat, but the former Marine isn’t ready to give Sana up yet. Throwing off the bindings, Minnie C goes on the offensive but is horrified to learn that Ichijou, like Sana, commands multiple cards. The government agent takes Zouroku and Sana to a safer location on the container ship and fights to keep them safe until help can arrive. Working with Yamada, who can partially track Minnie C’s location, she’s barely able to keep the two safe while she fends off the attacks, which sometimes take the form of invisible hands. Even in the middle of battle, Ichijou carves out time to give Sana a candy bar so she can regain her strength and get herself and Zouroku to safety.
Ichijou finds herself cornered. Complaining that she hates to get serious, she invokes her gate #1, which transforms her costume into that of a magical maid from a show she had watched as a little girl. One night as a child, she had fallen asleep watching that show, and when she woke up, her Mirror Gate had manifested and granted her the same powers as her maid hero. Within just a few minutes, the battle ends with Minnie C laying in a metal crater filled with seawater. Defeated, Minnie C reflects on how guilty she feels for surviving when her husband died. More helicopters with Ichijou’s allies arrive, and they take Minnie C into custody.
Sana, too, reflects on her role in all of this. She worries that she’ll cause trouble for Zouroku and Sanae Kashimura. But she also wonders who made her and why. The desire to find out makes her waver; Zouroku’s invitation to become his granddaughter tips the scales. She says that she wants to be human and learn all about herself and Zouroku and Sanae. Using her power to dress herself in the clothes that Sanae had given her, she takes Zouroku into the air. He’s not angry with her. He thinks the view is amazing. Sana finally apologizes for knocking the vases over, and Zouroku says it’s time to go home. Meanwhile, Ryuu Naitou was busy: government agents and police storm the research institute and arrest the Director with the Hinagiri sisters and Cleo.
Sana takes over responsibility for keeping the flowers watered and trimmed at home. As she works, Sana sings a song she made up; Sanae can barely contain herself over how cute she thinks Sana is. That night, as they eat, Sanae suggests they plan a visit to a zoo, or an aquarium, or a hot springs. Naitou, on duty in a car with Ichijou just outside the house, playfully laments how dull things are. She just as playfully rebukes him.
What I Liked
Just after pulling Zouroku and Sana away from Minnie C, Ichijou and Yamada are communicating through what looks like one of Ichijou’s cards. Sana starts poking it out of curiosity, just like a normal child might do. Details are important, and this one was another example of how the show is humanizing Sana.
Having a job in the technology profession, I don’t know whether to be chagrined or amused at how Naitou spoke of Yamada as “The annoying girl” who was the team’s technology lead. And then when even Ichijou called her a stalker, Yamada objected, suggesting that Ichijou should “Call me your unwelcome little sister.” I supposed there’s some evidence that those who excel at technology can sometimes lack social subtlety — which is something I can attest to personally! Still…
The battle was a lot of fun to watch. The animation’s not as sophisticated as something like Gate’s battle with the fire dragon, but the variety of tactics distinguished it. Minnie C used invisible arms; hundreds of tiny arms; even a single enormous arm, but Ichijou countered each one of them. At the very end of the battle, it looked like Ichijou was trapped. Then she unleashed her most powerful attacks, and she nearly tore the container ship apart.
I like how she had an excuse not to use those techniques until she was in extreme danger. The show’s taken great pains to give the Dreams of Alice powers limitations so they aren’t a continuous exercise in deus ex machina. Again, details and realism matter!
Speaking of details and realism, after Sana’s declaration that someday, she’s going to be the one to save Zouroku, she tries to open the candy wrapper. A moment later, she handed it to Zouroku and asked for help. Kudos to her for wanting to be the savior; double kudos for asking for help when she needed it.
Yamada’s fan-girl squeal as Ichijou invoked her single digit attacks added levity to the relief I felt when Ichijou literally dodged a bullet. That was a really close call, and I liked how the show handled it realistically.
I really hope the ship’s owner has great insurance. Ichijou and Minnie C tore the cargo apart, and I can’t believe they didn’t damage the structure, too!
Minnie C finally admitted to herself that she felt surviver’s guilt. I felt sorry for her. Not for what she did to Sana — seriously, shooting a little girl in the leg? Was the woman raised by wolves?* But in the end, after Ichijou had beaten the false hopes out of her, Minnie C seemed to realize she was on the wrong track. I hope she finds a way forward. And I hope I never see her again.
In yet another great example of how a kid would act, Sana’s in the middle of her big speech about how she wants to be human when her stomach growls. She stops and simply says, “I’m hungry.”
Awww! Sana kissed Zouroku on the forehead! That was an adorable moment.
Nothing seems to rattle Zouroku. After Sana flies him off the ship, he receives a calls from Naitou asking where he is. His answer? “I don’t know. I’m in the sky.” No panic, no consternation, just a matter of fact observation on par with “The sun’s out” or “I’m eating ramen.”
* Wolves are actually intelligent, socially sophisticated animals. They engage in cruelty for fun far less often than humans so.
What I Liked Less
Ichijou told Sana to eat the candy bar, regain her strength, and get her and Zouroku to the helicopter. Yet, at the end of the battle, she’s still on the ship. I don’t know if that’s a continuity issue, in which case I don’t like it, or if it’s an example of how well Sana obeys, in which case it’s a good example of her character (i.e., she doesn’t obey at all!). So, in order not to appear too enthusiastic about the show, I’ll leave it here to appear capable of being critical.
Last week, I wondered where the show was headed since Minnie C seemed to have been defeated. On one hand, I was a bit premature. The vicious ex-Marine still had some fight left in her! She proved it as this episode explored what it’s like when two adult masters of Dreams of Alice collide. While Minnie C had considerable experience with her single card and military training, in the end Ichijou’s more extensive inventory, talent, and skill won the day. I thought the battle was satisfying both in terms of the tactics the two used against one another, and in the result.
And now we’re back to the question of where the shows goes from here?
I can guess that since Sana will need training in her powers, someone sympathetic and with experience would be a good choice. That means Ichijou seems perfect! Not only is Ichijou experienced using the Mirror Gate, but like Sana, she’s multi-carded. So that seems like an easy guess.
But beyond that? I mean, I think I’d be perfectly content with a more “The Flying Witch” kind of story. However, I’m not sure that such a simple direction would be consistent with the show’s premise, which after all started with a daring escape and has begun to explore the challenges of a Dream of Alice living in society. I guess there’s nothing saying they can’t do both — quiet scenes of happiness threatened by occasional outside forces. The writers have done a good job so far, so I think I should give them the benefit of the doubt.
What direction do you think the show’s going to go? Let me know in the comments!
Other Posts of Interest
- Titans, Heroes, Queens, and Swords: Spring 2017 Anime Preview Part I
- Aliens, Gears, Game Creation, and Worlds in Collision: Spring 2017 Anime Preview Part II!
- Alice & Zouroku Episode 1 Review: The Red Queen Escapes
- Alice & Zouroku Episode 2 Review: Dreams of Alice
- Alice & Zouroku Episode 3 Review: Cards
- Alice & Zouroku Episode 4 Review: Something Not Human
- Alice & Zouroku Episode SP Review: Looking Ahead to Part 2
- Alice & Zouroku Episode 6 Review: The Kashimura Family
- Alice & Zouroku Episode 7 Review: Friends
- Alice & Zouroku Episode 8: The Evil Witch
- Alice & Zouroku Episode 9: Where the Cheshire Cat Smiles
- Alice & Zouroku Episode 10: The Little Queen
- Alice & Zouroku Episode 11: The Queen and the Witch
- Alice & Zouroku Episode 12: I’m Home