My last review for the spring season! See you guys next time for summer First Impressions!
The episode opens with Nya-tan and Chu-tan already engaged in battle, with the others watching “outside” via the magical TV. As the brutal fighting continues, Nya-tan eventually reveals that she too, knows the forbidden Kagura Senguu technique, surprising everyone. But what’s even more surprising is that Nya-tan was the FIRST to learn about it! And that she had attempted to use it on Chu-tan!
We get a brief flashback of that battle. Nya-tan saw how much Chu-tan’s etotama had been consumed by darkness, due to the stress from her “strong leader” façade. So Nya attempts to use the forbidden technique. Chu-tan despairs at this, and stops Nya’s attack. Apparently able to learn the Kagura Senguu just from seeing it, Chu-tan then uses it on Nya-tan, declaring that Nya is now her enemy. Thus, Nya-tan was nearly permanently killed, which leads to the Nya that we see at the beginning of the series.
As Takeru and the others are watching this match and hearing about the revelations, Manager-san suddenly drops down, incapacitating the other 11 eto-shin. He asks Takeru if humans really need the eto-shin, being as imperfect and trouble causing as they are. If Takeru answers that they aren’t needed, then Manager-san will invoke clause 0 of the zodiac precepts, erasing the current roster of eto-shin and setting up another contest to find 12 new ones.
Back in the battle, Nya-tan uses her last ounce of strength to perform Kagura Senguu on Chu-tan once again. But instead of destroying it, Nya-tan was really attempting to heal it all along. After being healed, Chu-tan returns back to her normal state, and finally lets all her emotions out. Sobbing all the while, Chu-tan confesses that she was really lonely with Nya-tan gone all the time. But Nya-tan claims that she only traveled about so much to solve problems around Japan as they arose before they turned into bigger problems that Chu-tan would have to handle. As this goes on, the other eto-shin all agree that they may have possibly put too much of a burden on Chu-tan as they all went to her to fix problems whenever one arose.
Takeru, seeing this scene, tells Chu-tan (through the TV) that it’s okay for her to act out-of-character; because Nya-tan’s OOC-ness was what made things fun. Thus, Chu-tan gets fully reformed, reflected by her arena changing to a more sunny and peaceful one, and her clothes changing from purple to white. Chu-tan and Nya-tan then have one more battle to decide the winner of the ETM12. Takeru then tells Manager-san that the eto-shin are fine the way they are, and Manager-san agrees.
After the battle (which Nya apparently won), Chu-tan still refuses to give Nya her animal seal. Chu-tan wants to continue on with her position, not only to repent for killing Mo-tan, but also to let Nya-tan be free and unbound by anything. But Mo-tan is miraculously able to be revived, due to a small part of her etotama having been hiding inside of Chu-tan. Thus, the series ends with Nya-tan and Mo-tan traveling the world together, and fighting other eto-musume.
That is an ungodly long summary but I can’t really be arsed to go back and hack it down so whatever. A lot of exposition happened in this episode, which is something I either like or dislike depending on how well it’s handled. In Etotama’s case… I didn’t really like it.
While it wrapped up all the plot threads nicely, it just felt so forced. Everything about this episode seemed so forced and out of left field. Nya-tan also knew of the forbidden technique! Oh my goodness, is she using the technique on Chu-tan to destroy her?! Oh, Nya-tan was obviously just attempting to HEAL Chu-tan’s etotama instead. Chu-tan is actually a really nice person, we swear! Also, Mo-tan’s still alive! While Mo-tan’s revival was predictable, and Nya-tan knowing the forbidden technique was a decent plot twist; I just can’t forgive Chu-tan’s instant forgiveness and sudden 180 degree character turn.
This episode tried really, really hard to prove that Chu-tan was completely innocent in all that she did, because her etotama was being consumed by darkness or some crap. And that just doesn’t sit well with me. It’s such a half-assed explanation and a poor way to do character development. “Oh, we can just completely reset this character’s personality because the ‘darkness inside her soul’ made her do all the bad things!” Also, Takeru proclaiming that Nya being OOC was what made things fun? Takeru are you mad?! ? I mean, I guess that’s a pretty good message to people—don’t take yourselves too seriously and learn to be more honest about your feelings and have more fun. But this “moral” quickly falls apart because Nya-tan was annoying as hell to the audience.
I also didn’t like the reveal that Nya-tan was doing all that she did for Chu-tan’s sake. Her wandering about and being the cause of Chu-tan’s despair? Oh that was just because she was trying to minimize problems for Chu-tan to fix. Nya-tan being so desperate to join the zodiac? It was so that she can take Chu-tan’s position and free her from being an eto-shin. Nya-tan learning the Kagura Senguu technique? She was actually just going to use it to cure Chu-tan. It’s probably the fault of the “amnesia” plotline they had with Nya-tan, but none of these reveals feel genuine because there was no foreshadowing that Nya-tan cared that much about Chu-tan. Hell, Nya-tan acted so selfishly throughout the series that it feels hard to believe she could be that selfless for anyone. All of this merely feels like the writers desperately attempting to make Nya-tan a better person after the fact. And that’s just lame.
So yeah, I was not happy with this episode at all. Everything was resolved but it all felt unsatisfying. I like happy endings, but not when they feel as half-assed and half-hearted as this.
Out of five for this episode:
Etotama is a series that has a bit of a weak beginning but gets better towards the mid-point. Unfortunately, the series then goes on to fall apart pretty badly at the end, leading me to believe that this series should have just stayed a comedy gag series instead of… whatever they were going for here. Etotama is a series that has fourteen major characters and made it work fairly well—as long as the series was being silly and dumb. Some of the more serious episodes were also handled well, but the last two episodes (the most serious of the bunch) were just poorly paced and had too many sudden reveals.
I’ve checked out a bit of the manga, which has a very different tone. I think the problem with the anime is that it takes itself far too seriously. The last two episodes basically drop the comedy for forced drama, which doesn’t work because of how silly the series was previously. Also, the last two episodes have massive amounts of exposition crammed into them, as if the writers suddenly realized that they needed to wrap the series up and only had two episodes left to do so.
Even so, I did enjoy the series up to that point, as the characters were just so fun to watch. I found myself liking nearly all of the characters, except for Nya-tan and Chu-tan. Despite being ultimately the “main” characters, both of them felt weakly characterized. Nya-tan literally doesn’t change by the end of the series. If she ever did, it’s practically unnoticeable, and I guess we’re just supposed to accept that she’s fine the way she is? Okay, sure; whatever. Chu-tan, on the other hand, had only one episode’s worth of lead-up to show that she’s actually a nice person after all. The result of this is that her reformation feels forced, and more like a plot-necessity than actual character development. And then there’s Takeru, who remains almost utterly useless until the end. It’s ironic that a big deal was made about how Takeru wasn’t just a sol/lull producing machine but… that’s all he was there for throughout this series.
While Etotama’s plot was a mess, I did really like the animation. I was surprised about the CG battles when I first saw this series, but they eventually became my favorite thing about it. The CG models in Etotama are very nice to look at, and they move fairly smoothly. Hell, I’d say Etotama’s CG is even better than Precure’s CG animations. Sure, the characters are mostly in chibi-form for the CG animation, but I’d like to point out the last few minutes of the last episode. Nya-tan (in her normal form) is rendered in CG and it is amazing to look at. Honestly, I wouldn’t have minded the series being entirely CG because it was just that nice looking.
Overall, Etotama is a mixed bag, which unfortunately leans slightly towards the “bad” side for me. For all its clever fourth wall breaking at the beginning, this series ended up falling into the very clichés it was mocking by the end. Still, I did enjoy this series when it was just being dumb and silly. I just wish it had stayed that way. As it is, this series ends up just being another average, run-of-the-mill anime.
Out of five for the series as a whole: