One of the many glaring faults of Platinum End is that, despite its creators’ pedigree for making compelling mental duels of increasingly absurd genius, the characters’ actual schemes have largely sucked ass. Metropoliman is the only one fit to come up with absurd, 12-dimensional chess gambits, but even his ideas have mostly amounted to “having a body double” and “lying” rather than anything on the level of Light Yagami hiding a tiny television in a bag of potato chips. That said, credit where it’s due: today’s episode features a genuinely interesting game of cat and mouse between our heroes and villains.
Granted, we only get there because Mirai does objectively the dumbest thing possible by willingly walking into a death trap with no plan, but even that has its charm. Metropoliman is such a logical and pragmatic schemer that the only thing which could possibly throw a wrench into his plans is encountering the dumbest boy alive. And while Mirai’s a total dumbass for leaping into things with no plan, I’ll give him a passing grade for (eventually) improvising an intriguing gambit. The idea of pretending like he and Mukaido miraculously escaped Metropoliman’s evil mirror maze has the flavor of a classic Jojo’s mind game, where the key to winning an impossible game is to make your opponent overthink and give up their advantage.
Sure, we the audience know they’re still in that mirror box, but one can imagine being in Hajime’s situation, standing outside for a full day and night, with no sign they’re in there, wondering “what if?” more and more with every passing second. If you were stuck there, looking into a seemingly empty building for hours on end, how long could you keep the doubts at bay? How long could you tamp down the broiling anxiety that you’ve already screwed up, and every second you don’t act is a second closer to you being destroyed? The show sadly speeds through that particular trial, but it’s nonetheless the most interest I’ve felt towards a fight in this whole mess so far.
Sadly it wouldn’t be Platinum End if it didn’t follow up a rare good idea with a total misfire, and that brings us to the more pivotal sequence of this episode. As Revel and Saki both reach their breaking point on the sidelines, through their shared desperation, Revel is able to become the first angel to ever shed tears for another person, earning a promotion and getting Saki some much-needed wings. On paper, that sounds like exactly the kind cheesy, emotion-driven schmaltz I eat up, but it’s all undercut by the fact that it comes out of nowhere. Revel has technically had the most personality of any of the recurring angels so far, but that’s only because he’s shown a slight motivation to do something besides exposit to the humans. He’s still largely a blank, woefully underdeveloped character, so the fact that he is somehow the first angel in all of time to experience empathy is a resolution pulled straight out of God’s noncorporeal ass.
But okay, we may have skipped several episodes worth of buildup to reach this point, but at least Saki can finally join the battle. Now it’s time for our heroes’ most underestimated character to save the day with the power of empathy, love, and brainwashing!
Yeah, I’m not really sure what to do with Saki hitting Hajime with her Red Arrow either. Narratively, it’s a win for her, as it presumably means their side has a new ally and can turn the tables on Metropoliman. But for some reason we spend that final (several) minutes of this episode with Hajime screaming in his brain about how much he’s in love with “the girl with the cat ears” and making increasingly uncomfortable faces. Judging by his repeated lines about how he doesn’t understand love, I can only assume this is meant to be a revelation that changes him for the better, having finally understood what it means to truly care for another person in his life. Except that revelation happens because a magic crystal that God calls an arrow for some reason lodged itself in his chest and scrambled his psyche until he had no choice but to “love” Saki, so I have no idea what message we’re supposed to take here.
Somehow, that’s the note this episode leaves off on. Mirai has successfully bought enough time to be bailed out by his girlfriend, and just in time for Mukaido to be mostly dead instead of wholly dead. Presumably next week will force Metropoliman’s hand into some kind of climactic confrontation, but I have no idea how or what the show expects me to feel about how we got here. Still, by virtue of having a halfway engaging conflict, I feel confident saying this is the best episode of Platinum End so far.