Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Valkyria Chronicles - Episode 22

Considering what an important point of plot progression it contained, the last episode of Valkyria Chronicles was a surprisingly lifeless and half-hearted one which almost seemed ashamed of and apologetic for the storyline it had unleashed upon its viewers. After that disappointment, can the series dust itself down and get back to the quality of far more stellar recent episodes?

This episode starts with Alicia dreaming of her childhood as an orphan, giving us some important insight into some of the formative years of her life; and rather grim they looked too, in all honesty, although it was interesting to see one familiar face helping out Alicia when she looked set to go without food, an appearance which may well set the tone for later episodes somewhat.

Aside from that flashback, this episode is really all about how the revelations surrounding Alicia as a Valkyrur descendant impacts upon both her personally and, of course, Welkin - With a transfer to the regular army in the offing and her former comrades and all of those around scared to death of Alicia, times are tough for our lead female character, and I suppose you could draw parallels between this current situation and those aforementioned childhood scenes. Rebuffing Welkin's attempts to help her is really the fetid icing on this cake of misery, leaving happiness at the door for the entire duration of this episode while the Empire seem to be spending their time completing work on some kind of secret weapon.

Oddly enough for a series that started out so brightly and breezily, Valkyria Chronicles has been at its best of late when it's depicting utter and abject misery, be it Isara's death or Alicia's isolation. You can almost see why what was a major plot development last episode was given such short shrift, when the real power of this series comes here in its aftermath, culminating in what was very nearly a tear-jerking scene for me between Alicia and Welking (whose dynamic as a pairing probably shouldn't be underestimated in terms of driving this show's quality). While this episode couldn't beat the agonising aftermath of the death of Isara, it once again delivers the required emotional punch pretty well when it needs to; an ability which has lifted this series above being "just another show" into something a little more worthy of respect and consideration. It'll be interesting to see whether it can carry this new-found respect through to the show's climax over the coming weeks.

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