‘Nakanaori’, or ‘Reconciliation’; in theology, it is described as “the end of estrangement between a human and God as a result of the process of atonement.” And while we as humans have long been estranged from the Lord, a skilled animator from a small xenophobic island nation is here to, once again, bring us closer to Him.
This anime is not like, nor unlike, anything you see with every passing season. On one hand, it is an animated Japanese film, thus making it an anime. That is a category it cannot escape. But right from the very start you will start to see differences. And I am talking about the very start. Like, before you even start it ‘start’. Because while you can easily watch currently airing shows either legally or illegally, this film will keep you on a lease. It keeps you excited. Because as of yet, I am still trying to find it.
Having finally found it on a website that may very well be run by none other than the Russian mafia itself, you are presented with a bold first frame; it stares into your soul and screams “I am dark-coloured; I am me,” a fitting statement for a society where even mostly white frames can be coloured if they so desire.
Not even three seconds later, more like two, it follows this statement up in an act of bravery. As it changes its colour right before our eyes and defines itself once more, not as an independent work of art, but as the product of a human mind.
Before we can even process this sudden change in appearance, it offers us a crudely drawn girl. Most likely aged between eight to thirty-two. You can never be too sure when something has, as of yet, done nothing but surprise you.
This girl, this artefact of human creativity, does not look at you. It acts like you are not there. It acts like there is a wall between you and her. Instead she focuses all her attention on the long-haired girl in front of her. Staring her down. Waiting for the right moment to strike. But wait, the new girl is not ready to accept defeat just yet. And, shocking the viewer, she draws a sword, which is, in contrast, lighter than anything we have laid our eyes upon before.
Changing the scene it prepares to astonish the viewer with a devastating sword-fight, as it reveals that the girl we were originally introduced to drew her sword off-screen. In retrospect, I should have seen this coming. We already saw her reaching for something when it cut to the other girl, but my attention was diverted before I could even ponder over what this was foreshadowing.
Not wasting a second, the two girls clash their swords. But instead of the tinnitus-inducing sound that two swords clashing often produces, it is more like cutlery coming into contact with each other.
And this is really where the film shines. It sets expectations, it plays you like a fiddle, and when you think you know what is going to happen next, it extinguishes these expectations. But the flame of passion does not leave the viewer, the flames only rise further up and light up the sky.
The fighting continues, and for a brief moment it looks like the two girls are complete equals, but even this was just trickery. As the long-haired girl gets the upper-hand, forcing her opponent to flee. But her adversary is not about to give up. And before she can even get a blow in, her opponent counter-attacks. For a brief moment the screen darkens, not showing us what followed. Luckily we are quickly released from this prison-like frame. And one of the girls gets a kick in.
Before this, it looked like it would be a sword-only fight. And I will be honest with you, I expected nothing less. But once again the creator read me, read us. Thus he changed it up to keep it exciting.
The kick allows for the brief but effectful counter-attack, and the kicker is forced to leave the scene. But her pursuer is not having it, and immediately follows her into the shallow water she was residing in.
The scene dramatically changes once again, and we are shown more of the world. The debris suggest that the film is taking place in a destroyed world, a Godless world, perhaps?
Not wanting to draw attention to this fact, it continues the fight like nothing happened. And the two girls show mastery in their respective fields. Inspiring their audience to better themselves, to save this world without a proper saviour.
Now halfway the film, it changes things up once again. And the new terrain fills the screen with a cloud of particles as white as snow.
And they both start running.
Running from the fight.
Running from the world.
Running from each other.
And most of all, running from themselves.
But alas, they could not keep running. As they fall from the cliff they ran to they must have realised. Realised what caused this. Realised what will come from this. And realised how they have changed due to this fateful encounter.
They keep fighting.
Without an end in sight, they keep fighting. Swords clashing, they look each other in the eye. Both looking shocked, the long-haired girl’s swords gets broken into two separate pieces. This seems like it is the end for her.
But even the girl who broke the sword is now looking shocked, as her opponent’s weaponry is becoming airborne. Even after it has landed, they are still looking. Looking for purpose, perhaps?
Without the soaring sword, they look at the one thing left to look at; each other. They shake hands, realising that this fight, this match, was not the purpose they were looking for.
Both smiling, the story ends like it stated; a white frame and a black text. And the film ends after, once again, reminding us who brought us this masterpiece.
Now, I am decently critical. My average MAL rating has been hovering around a 6.5 for a while now. But even I am not sure what to do, what to do in a post-Nakanaori world. So I looked for the thing, the last person, I could turn to; God. I confessed my sins. I confessed my wrongdoings. And most of all, I asked for his forgiveness. Even though I may have watched ‘Keijo!!!!!!!!,’ even though I may have watched ‘Yosuga no Sora’, and even though my favourite non-sequel of last season was ‘Sakurada Reset’, I dropped ‘Eromanga-Sensei,’ and currently, that is all that matters.