The dust settles after the riots and mayhem of episode ten and we head…right back to the beginning? But we’re not the only ones confused! Swindler and Courier are trapped in a simulation, repeating moments of their lives and that fateful day at the Takoyaki Stand. They almost loose loose themselves if not for the help of an old friend. Hacker makes his much welcomed reappearance and with him, we learn the dark truth of what Kanto actually is and how awful the Children’s intended fate is. The three of them work together to save the Children from Kanto once and for all, but Kanto won’t go down without a fight.
A theme that comes up in quite a few sci-fi works is this idea of the fragility of human life and trying to surpass this barrier. Doctor mentioned it in the last two episodes – her desire to have complete control over life and death. But the people of Kanto went a step further, giving up their human forms to become ‘data’ stored in a super computer that creates their own determined reality. Ironically, the ‘freedom’ that they hoped to gain through this has now become their slowly deteriorating prison and they require the children to become their new host. Having conquered Kansai, life and death, there’s an arrogance to Kanto and it’s their undoing. I’m not quite sure why they gave the Children self-awareness, but whatever they reason I can imagine they never thought anyone would have the guts or strength to stand up and fight against them. They underestimated what the Children were capable of, the bonds they had made with one another (and their other thousand siblings) and their tenacity. I wonder if Kanto, in their digital haven, forgot what it means to be human, the strength of humanity to struggle and fight against all odds and that was why they couldn’t ever imagine someone revolting against them and their plans.
Visually this week’s episode was stunning, while Akudama Drive is always a feast for the eyes I couldn’t help but look in wonder at the deep blue expanse that Kanto’s ruins floated around in. However, the best part was definitely Hacker’s face off with Kanto and saving the children. The psychedelic colours, seamless animation and the parallel of Hacker, Swindler and the representation of the children’s will in the form of their siblings reaching out made it such an emotional and exciting scene. I know almost every time I watch an Akudama Drive episode I say “now this scene is my favourite”, but…this scene is my favourite of the series (so far, we’ve still got episode 12 to go). I also have to cheer for Hacker’s character arc coming to such a satisfying conclusion. I was really disappointed when he left for Kanto early on in the series, it felt a bit random and he hadn’t left an impression on me. But in just this episode, he’s shown a lot of heart – coming to the rescue of the children at the risk of his own life, saving Swindler and Courier and finding a safe place for them all. He deserved so much more screen time than he got, but he definitely won’t be forgotten!
As this episode came to its close I almost forgot that it wasn’t the series finale. Everything was just wrapped up so well – the children were saved, and Hacker left behind some information on how to get to a safe haven. But, it wouldn’t be Akudama Drive if it all went so smoothly, as I was shockingly reminded by the Shinkansen blowing up in the final moments. And, if the promo is anything to go by, next week’s episode is set to be a chaotic conclusion. We’ll have to wait and see who, if anyone, survives it.