For a final battle, this episode was lackluster. Maybe I’m being nitpicky or critical, but that’s exactly how I feel about this episode. I don’t hate it but I don’t like it either. Perhaps they could do better had the series consisted of 22 episodes or so. I’m just going to combine both this episode and overall last impression of the series into one.
The war ended well for North Ambria. Even though they became part of Erebonia Empire, the people at least were saved. Plus, Rogan and his men determined that this annexation would only be temporary, they’ll eventually liberate North Ambria and once again became an independent country like it was supposed to be. For the time being, peace return for the people.
So much for a duel between Rean and Lavi, in the end no battle took place between them, and instead shifts into protecting the citizens of North Ambria from the Archaism controlled by the Ouroborous to cause havoc. They divide their jobs: Rean, Altina, and the others will protect and evacuate the citizens from the Archaism, while Lavi will stop the source of the abnormality, which is Jayna. For no particular reason other than her amusement, she took four North Ambria Jaegers and Lavi’s comrades as hostages, giving her the choice to stop the Archaism by killing them or allowing the chaos to continue. Before, I had expectation for Jayna as a villain, but because she spent the majority of the series sitting while waiting for events to unfold following the Ouroborous plan, this last-episode-action from Jayna didn’t feel so good, especially with her eventual demise. She could’ve become a great villain had the series showed more of her scheming side and for her to take action earlier.
On the matter of Talion, he stick with Jayna solely so that he could find his chance to off her, a feat that he succeeded. For Jayna to easily let her guard down means that Talion did a great job in deceiving her. I gave him an applause for that. But it’s not something that’s much surprising to me. Talion and Lavi worked together to stop the source of the Archaism without having to sacrifice their comrades’ lives was quite well-done. And then there’s Rogan and Martin, with the former managed to destroy the tool controlling the Archaism after several failed attempts. It would’ve been better to show these two fighting together more. In fact, they should’ve shown more interaction between these two men because their brief interaction was something that I like. It’s really too bad because of the limited episodes.
Speaking of interaction, I also wish that Lavi and Rean interacted more before this, especially after all that marketing showing them side by side like in the OP. Rean gave a profound effect on Lavi during their first encounter, showing Lavi the kindness and desire to help people in need, something that Lavi herself has but buried deep inside her. This gave Lavi a character development, one that could’ve been better executed if they’re explored more. It’s truly a missed opportunity.
As for the rest of the main characters, Martin and Talion had a proper and balanced appearance, but Iseria didn’t. Her presence wasn’t as strong as the rest and she’s more of a supporting character who helped Lavi, but didn’t give a particular impact or effect like how the other main characters did. There’s not much spotlight given for Iseria. And we also didn’t get any explanation about Talion and Iseria’s background or past that shaped their characters.
And then the matter of cameos. I don’t mind with the cameos in the first few episodes because they’re only shown briefly as some characters passing by. However, Lloyd, Rixia, Estelle, and Joshua’s cameo weren’t really necessary to me. Instead of them, they should’ve used the several seconds scenes focusing on the anime-only cast. It would’ve been more acceptable if the four of them made appearance while also providing a different POV of the war in North Ambria.
Overall, Trails of Cold Steel: Northern War is neither a horrible nor great adaptation of Trails series. I couldn’t get attached to any of the main character compared to the ones from the games and felt it relied too much on the presence of the game characters to get the story going. Because this is based from Trails game, the anime is no doubt targeting the fans who already played the game. However, having original anime-only main characters was a risky one because they’re bound to be compared to the characters from the game, so they must make sure the anime-only characters are on the same level of the characters from the game that already have big fanbase, especially Rean. Unfortunately, the main cast of the anime failed to meet my expectation. The animation was also a mixed bag, particularly the character animation, sometimes it’s acceptable, sometimes it’s not.
If there’s going to be another Trails anime adaptation, I hope it’ll be much better than this.