Sister Krone makes a deal with the kids to help them escape – after all, their escape can only benefit her, as it will ruin Isabella’s credibility as Mama of Grace Field. She explains that it’s not possible for her to double-cross them, either – after all, they’re each others weaknesses right now – Krone knows which kids are planning an escape, but they know that she wants to usurp Isabella. But that’s not all – she also reveals to them the tattoo on her neck – she was originally just like them. She also cannot leave the farms, or else a device implanted in her body will kill her.
While Emma and co do not trust Krone at all, they decide to at least get as much information as they can from her. They discover how the tracking device works, Krone’s age (26), Isabella’ age (31), and perhaps most importantly – that there are humans outside the walls that are on equal standing with the demons.
The kids continue with the final stages of their plan -Ray has Isabella get him a camera, which he seems to have fun with – although he has other reasons for wanting it than just taking photos. Given that they were forced to move the date earlier again to throw Krone off their trail, Norman and Emma make a plan to climb the wall to do a preliminary scouting of the area they can see from there while Krone and Isabella are distracted.
Krone, predictably, plans to betray the children – especially when she infers that they already know about the tracking devices in their ears. She believes that they must be looking for a way to break the devices, and so decides to hunt for proof of this…unfortunately for her, when she does find what appears to be proof, Isabella immediately appears and tells her that she has been ordered by HQ to return.
This wasn’t particularly a ‘bad’ episode, but it did kind of showcase a growing flaw I’ve started to notice with the anime adaptation. While I think it’s really good in places and has some great artistic choices, there are other times where it falls completely flat, and nowhere was this more evident than in the kids facial expressions during the bargaining scene with Krone. Anime-Emma looks guarded, and we can tell that she’s angry – but she doesn’t look nearly angry enough. She actually kind of only looks mildly annoyed. In the manga, however, Emma looks pissed – and almost scarily so. When she asks Krone ‘how do we know you won’t betray us?’, you can clearly see the disdain she had for Krone, and it’s a lot clearer that she does not intend to trust Krone at all. It also makes the scene a lot more powerful. It’s kind of ironic that I’d be complaining about the facial expressions right after the review where I commented on how creepy the kids looked – but I’m honestly kind of confused by this. Are the animators afraid to make Emma uncute? Let Emma be menacing!
The other main flaw is again in the pacing, and again its kind of hard to get around it. It plays out like a game of one-upping as the kids try to get info out of Krone without letting their guards down, but it does strike me as weird that they form this ‘alliance’ and then already have it seemingly broken at the end – with Krone being given the letter. That scene, at least, was well-done, with Isabella being calmly terrifying in that way that she is (her holding the letter opener in an ‘accidentally’ threatening way is such a great touch).
Plot-wise, there’s a lot of important developments here, and the piece of info about there being humans ‘equal’ to demons is intriguing. Especially because that tier of humans clearly doesn’t include Krone or Isabella.
Krone’s letter from HQ tells her that she is being transferred to another farm where she will be the new Mama. However, this doesn’t please her at all – she wanted the position at Grace Field, and she wanted to take it from Isabella. She also is immediately suspect that the summons is Isabella’s doing, and that she was trying to get rid of her. However, when Krone meets ‘Grandma’ at the gate – one of the staff from HQ – and tries to explain what is happening at Grace Field, Grandma seems strangely unperturbed, assuming everything is still being kept under control. And unfortunately for Krone, her efforts in rocking the boat have only branded her a nuisance and she is no longer necessary. Just as the children are lied to about being adopted, Krone has also been lied to about her promotion – and after a flashback revealing a few details about how she underwent training from a young age to become a Sister in the farms, she meets her end at the hands of one of the demons.
Later, the children implement their plan to scout the outer wall by having Ray distract Isabella, while Gilda and Don keep watch. The whole thing goes spectacularly wrong when Isabella suddenly reveals to Ray that their deal is off and she no longer needs an ‘informant’ among the children. Locking him in a room, she then calmly heads out to where Emma and Norman are, where she first breaks their spirits and then Emma’s leg. To make matters even worse, she chooses that moment to announce that Norman is being shipped out tomorrow.
Things are finally ramping back up in the story, with even more details leaked, a character death and a plan going spectacularly wrong. When I first saw the episode, I felt certain that the manga had done things better, but when I went back to check I actually realised that it’s kind of half-and-half, and there are aspects that the anime improved on. Krone’s end is a good example of this. While in the manga she is taken by surprise (although she does struggle angrily in the demon’s grip), the anime has her go down with slightly more of a fight – having her even draw a knife. As viewers we know it’s futile, but it does add a slight extra dimension to her, along with the flashback we get while she dies. The flashback is much the same as in the manga – with a young Krone learning how to be a ‘sister’, becoming increasingly stronger and more bitter, and most importantly picking up the pen she leaves in the farm for the children (and yes, this will become important later on). A curious omission is any of Krone’s narration, though. While having it silent except for the gentle music does give it some impact, it’s missing Krone’s comments about the need to ‘compete’ in order to survive in this world – which, in my opinion, does give some justification for some of her behaviour. The weird doll the anime gave Krone also did predictably feature a little in the flashback, although not as much as I expected, so I really don’t know why they added it in other than to make Krone look more unhinged than she should when she talks to it.
Anyway, a few episodes back I mentioned that Krone is an interesting character with more depth than she appears to have, and this is what I was talking about, and that’s what makes the story’s treatment of her in both a narrative and aesthetic sense all the more tragic. Her ‘gift’ she leaves the children will be crucial for their escape, and her role in the story is basically a demonstration of how cruel the setting is to almost everybody not high enough up the ladder. So it kinda just…really sucks that her character design and so much else about her is so glaringly uncomfortable. But whatever your opinions on her, she’s no longer around.
As for the rest of the episode – it’s a shocking way to end things and maybe not the cliffhanger many would expect with how much the story telegraphs Ray being the next kid to be shipped. But, I do have some complaints about the infamous scene in which Isabella breaks Emma’s leg. Maybe I’ve just been spoiled by the voice acting in something like Made in Abyss (where Riko genuinely sounded like she was in pain), but Emma’s scream here was….surprisingly lacklustre. There’s probably a better way to articulate this that doesn’t make it sound like I want to hear a little girl screaming in pain, because I don’t – I just honestly expecting some better acting here, as it does lessen the impact of this particular scene – seeing as it was such a ‘woah holy shit’ moment when I read it in the manga. On one hand, I’m glad they didn’t go overboard and make me feel sick, but I do think that a lot of scenes in the anime version just don’t feel as gut-punching as they should.