Why does everything always have to end in a question mark and be fifty words long?
Summary: The game is put on hold for suspicion of illegalities, but when it’s proven that no foul play is involved the game is restarted one week later as part of the negotiations that take place while it’s paused. As the No-Names struggle to find the truth of what happened in Hamelin, the city itself is summoned and Asuka finally reappears, giant robot in tow.
Impressions: I swear, this show is trying to set some kind of record for longest episode titles. Things continue to happen and yet I find that my interest isn’t perked at all anymore. While I do admire how some of the characters deviate from how you would expect them to be, given the “types” that they’re supposed to be portraying (like how Izayoi is actually really smart even though he’s supposed to be just this super-strong hero character, or how Asuka isn’t just a spoiled princess but actually a hard worker), other part of this show are just…yeah…I think it relies too much on the assumption that you’re familiar with the source material (in this case the light novel series) to be truly understandable for the casual viewer.
I guess I should maybe start with some explanation as to the legend of The Pied Piper of Hamelin. As the fairytale goes, the town of Hamelin (a real town btw) was suffering from a major rat infestation when a man dressed in colorful cloths showed up and offered to lead the rats away from the town using his pipe in return for payment. The mayor promises to pay once the job is done, and the Piper leads all the rats to the nearby Weser River where all but one of the rats drown. The Piper returns the next day expecting to be paid, but the mayor refuses. The Piper responds by swearing that he shall have his revenge, and leaves the town in a huff. Sometime later, while all the adults are in church, the Piper sneaks back and this time plays his pipe to attract all the town’s children who follow him. There are several different endings, that range from the children never being seen again to them being returned after the town pays the piper (which is where that saying comes from) several times what he is owed. Some versions of the tale include three children that were left behind (due to being lame, deaf, and blind and so being unable to follow) who tell the adults what happened to the others.
What really happened in the town of Hamelin in June of 1284 is up for debate. It is true that 130 children disappeared from the town, but just how that happened is subject to speculation. Popular theories include that the children drowned in the river Weser, that they were killed by an epidemic of an illness like the Black Plague, or that they were killed through a natural disaster like a landslide caused by a storm. There are also a whole bunch of other theories, like that the children were sent off on a Children’s Crusade (yes, like those crusades) or that they were sent off to help settle areas of Poland. My personal favorite is that they were all lured away by a pagan cult that lived in the nearby hills. Knowing all that is helpful in seeing how Mondaiji picked those specific elements and made them into the personified characters that the No-Names and the members of the Northern Region are currently facing. Each represents a different version of the events that lead to the death (or disappearance) of the children of Hamelin.
This explains the rules of the game, that the false legend must be “shattered” and the true legend must be revealed. Izayoi explains that even if there are different time lines (like the three different time lines our problem children come from) there are some important events where those times all intersect. In this case it’s the vanishing of 130 kids. In each time, something different causes it, exemplified by our four main villains (Pest, Ratten, Weser and Strom.) Going from there, I though it was kinda easy to pick out who the false legend was. We know that the kids disappeared in 1284, and Jin mentions that the Black Death reached its peak in the 14th century. That’s nearly 100 years after what happened in Hamelin. So just from the time periods it doesn’t match up. Plus, Izayoi points out that the plague is a disease that kills over time as it spreads. Even if everyone was infected on the same day and the disease worked at it’s fastest (which is roughly 4 days if not treated), the chances of all 130 dying on the same day is extremely slim. Which leaves Pest, our demon lord as the false legend.
The problem I have is that the show does a piss-poor job of explaining all this, and that if you don’t know at least a little bit about the story of the Pied Piper, you’re probably more than a little lost. I could maybe let it go if it were a more popular fairytale, but none of the background or even the original fairytale is what I would consider “common knowledge.” Like I still don’t know what Izayoi meant when he was talking about the power of the sun and where Shiroyasha draws her power from and how a cold period was one of the reasons that the plague spread and how all that ties together. I also don’t know what he meant when he said that they weren’t the real Pied Piper of Hamelin. Does that mean they are the original community that operated under that name, or did he mean they weren’t the real story? See that’s the problem you run into when different things all have the same name.
So with Pest having spread out her disease throughout the area, and with a seven day break before the game resumes, things are looking kinda bad for our heroes. Sure they have some time to research what’s going on and the history behind the Pied Piper of Hamelin, but on the other hand, seven days is more than enough for people to start dying. Like I said, left untreated, 2/3 of all plague victims will die within four days. Unsurprisingly though, no one dies even though a full week goes by. You is unfortunately one of the people who has gotten sick. It struck me as really…strange? that one second she was fine, and then the next she was flushed, sweating, and feeling faint. Like either people are going to get sick really quick and start dying or they’re going to get sick slowly. Pick one or the other.
Then there’s the whole bit with the stained glass. Since the rules state that the false legend must be “shattered”, Izayoi thinks that it has something to do with the stained glass that was decorating the festival area (although how he knows there are 100 of them is a mystery. Like did he take the time to count them? How does he know this?) Part of winning the game is smashing all the fakes and revealing the true one. Again, the show does a pretty poor job of explaining this. Historically, in the real town of Hamelin, there was a stained glass window in the church showing a Piper leading away children dressed in white, which is part of the earliest mention of the story along with an inscription in the town record from around the time when the glass was made that states “It is 100 years since our children left.” It’s generally thought that this window was created in memory of the terrible events of that June day in 1284. This is the stained glass that Izayoi is talking about as being the “stained glass of Hamelin”.
The real glass (both in real life and in the show) is the one without rats (since they were added to the story much later (~1559)) while the fake glass shows the piper with rats. Once Pest raises the real city of Hamelin, of course the first place you’d look for stained glass is the church, which is where the glass is in real life as well. What I don’t get is why once they find the stained glass without the rats (which should be the real one) they have to replace it with what Jin calls the real stained glass. If the one with rats is the fake, then it makes sense that the one without rats is the real one right? Then what does Jin mean by his “real stained glass”? What is even happening any more? In addition to summoning an entire town, how can Pest give Weser divinity? I though she was a Demon Lord, not a God? Or are those two things basically the same? sigh I don’t even really care anymore.
Anyway, Asuka, who this whole time was trapped underground has her own challenges to face I guess. She is tasked by the spirits of the 130 people killed to win their gift game, the prize of which is the giant robot Dean. I guess she successfully uses her power to control the gift, since at the end she shows up with it. That’s one of the few things that I like about the show, is that it does the exact opposite of what you’d expect. I though for sure that they problem children would end up fighting the giant robot, not fighting with it. Hopefully the spirits also revealed the true story of what happened in Hamelin to Asuka and she’ll be able to not only tell the others and help win the game, but also maybe explain everything to the rest of us. Because man, is everything a confusing mess right now. I’m not even going to ask why it took Asuka a whole week to either win her gift game or figure out how to get out from underground. Thankfully, next week is the last episode, because if there ever was a show that I was glad to see end it would be this one.
Final Thought: One thing I find really weird are those giant robot creatures that are called Strom. The show translates it as the German word for storm, but that’s incorrect. The word for storm is “sturm”, while “strom” is actually the word for electricity. I don’t know if it’s simply an error on the part of the subbing group, or if it’s an error in the show itself. To me it sounds like they’re saying the word with an “o” sound and not a “u”, so it’s easy to understand that there’d be a mistake. But it could also be a deliberate thing, in which case I’d imagine that those creatures have some kind of larger role to play, since electricity is in no way even remotely involved in any of the theories of what happened to those 130 people in Hamelin.