After doing some more reading up on it, I think I have a better understanding of what transpired, but boy…it’s a lot to take in. Not a fault of the episode itself, if anything it awards the previous episodes more re-readability than ever before, and the information given is produced in sizable enough chunks that it doesn’t feel like overkill.
I really enjoyed the humanist theme that was made the focus of this episode. It confirmed one of the few conclusions I was more or less able to reach about the series with certainty on my own; that it’s that it’s a deeply humanist story, first and foremost, about understanding what drives the hearts of people, no matter how despicable, while using murder mystery as a backdrop/device to explore it. It doesn’t beg for sympathy or forgiveness, but simply understanding, and that’s something I deeply respect in a story.
I liked Will and Lion a lot, too. I was surprised at how much I liked Will in particular; I really love kind characters that demonstrate their kindness, rather than act it, if that makes sense. It goes in hand with how his apathetic appearance and sometimes blunt manner of speaking contrasted with his characterization as a hugely empathic, good-hearted person, which I also liked a lot. I loved that he made no attempt to hide how much he valued the feelings of others, nor show any shame for it. His reason for leaving his job, determination to make sure Beatrice could rest in peace, and that Lion would be allowed to live the happy life all of Yasu’s lives could not, was really touching. And I loved that despite his reputation as this feared wizard-hunter, when all was said and done, he just wanted to get back home to his cat. Guy’s got his priorities straight.
Lion I knew I was going to like before I even started the game, and I think because of that, I don’t have much to say about them. One of the big selling points to me was how their gender ambiguity was handled, and even though it’s such a small thing in the grand scheme of things, it’s really because it’s treated as such a small thing that it was such a selling point, and something I know I related to a lot in the past.
Yasu was adorable in the few scenes we got to see with her on her own, and not as channeled through her personas, and I only wish we’d gotten more. In particular, I was really interested in seeing her furniture/gender complex explored after hearing so much discussion about it, so I was a little let down when it showed up in only one scene. I’m guessing Ryukishi was intentionally vague about it and her in general so she’d be more of a mystery with multiple conclusions to for the reader to come to, but gender confusion is something rarely handled with proper delicacy and understanding, so I was really itching to see that explicitly explored in-text. I did enjoy all the hints peppered throughout the episodes, though (I might be reading too much into it, but the scene in episode 3 where Beatrice didn’t want Battler to see her “true” form or “real” name read a lot like the struggles of trans* individuals covering up their pasts, and that really hit home for me).
I’d seen screenshots of the scene with Yasu giving the master key a “home” before, but it was really sweet seeing it in context.