Once things have gone well and truly cuckoo-bananas in “Pandæmonium”, the titular villainess announces, “What you are about to witness is a B-movie screening!”, and you know what? She is absolutely right. While I definitely wouldn’t call this a perfect episode of The Execution and Her Way of Life by any means, if you go into it with an attitude rooted firmly in the realm of Raimi-esque B-movie madness, it is a heck of a lot of fun.
It’s a much-needed shift into campy high gear after the somewhat languid pacing of the last few episodes, though the descent into madness does come at the expense of some of the story’s pathos and thematic effectiveness. The first half of the episode consists almost entirely of Manon info-dumping her tragic backstory about how Flare killed her Japanese mother and left her to deal with the cruel whims of leaders of the Fourth, which might have been more interesting if Manon had, you know, more than ten or so minutes left to live. Now, given the fact that Executioner operates in a world that allows for time travel and all sorts of other magic shenanigans, it isn’t outside the realm of possibility for Manon to come back. As it stands for this episode, though, I can’t help but feel a bit underwhelmed by Manon’s arc throughout this Libelle storyline.
The tidbit about how Lost Ones can arrive in this world without even being summoned is tantalizing (and it plays into a theory I’ll get back to in a second), but everything else about the exploration of Manon’s lackadaisical madness is mostly just okay for me. The voice acting and blocking of her scenes with Akari and Menou make the most out of the material, but it’s the kind of anime cliché that needs a bit more substance to be truly compelling. It’s also cool to see again, but with only a couple of episodes left in the season, I’m becoming Flare convinced that little teases like this are all we’re going to get of Flare (unless she shows up at the very end of Episode 12 to deliver a cruel cliffhanger).
Let’s be real, though: We’re all here for the second half of the episode, when that formerly mute little girl that Momo found in the Iron Maiden last week straight-up bursts her way out of Manon’s like she was auditioning for a role as the world’s cutest Xenomorph. Then, after Menou does her Executioner duty and immediately slits the girl’s throat, the kid crawls out of her own corpseas chipper and not-murdered as could possibly be.
This, of course, is Pandæmonium, one of the legendary Human Errors that is the source of the monstrine afflicting Libelle, among other presumably calamities. She’s also the source of the deviation in the timeline that has Akari thrown for a loop, and it’s a testament to the bonkers energy that Pandæmonium brings to the show that Menou’s discovery of True Akari is barely a footnote amongst the tiny’s scenery-chewing gore parade. She also drops some neat lore morsels, specifically a reference to the legendary Ivory Hero (more on that in the notes!), but the character is mostly here to give Menou a deliciously devilish foe to contend with as this arc comes to a close.
If Manon was the kind of horror cliché that didn’t have enough meat on its bones for my taste, Pandæmonium is the opposite: This girl has got meat and bones to spare! It’s a matter of tone and intensity, I think. Manon was halfway between a goofy cartoon villain and an actual character, and I don’t think she quite managed to excel at being either. Pandæmonium, though, is the kind of evil murder brat that absolutely thrives on being a ridiculous cartoon villain. In other words, what she lacks in subtlety she more than makes up for in entertainment value.
What I really want to find out, though, is whether Pandæmonium will be able to put enough gas in Executioner‘s tank to keep the engine chugging along smoothly towards the finish line. It’s pretty clear that we’re not going to get much conclusion beyond the end of this storyline by the time the season ends, so the best we can hope for is that the finale of this Libelle mission will be big and bloody enough to end The Executioner and Her Way of Life on a high note.
Odds and Ends
•So, the Ivory Hero. A legendary good Lost One who saved the world from destruction, but has been completely forgotten at this point in history. This isn’t the kind of information you drop if you’re not setting up some kind of twist. The only two candidates we have for the role so far are Flare and Menou, and while it would make a lot of sense for Flare to end up being a bitter Lost One turned to the dark side, I wouldn’t put it past the show to reveal that Menou is somehow the Ivory Hero, too. We’ve got Time Traveling Waifus and Corpse Cloning Psycho Kids already – it isn’t impossible! Either way, even if she isn’t the Ivory Hero, I feel like it’s obvious that Menou is supposed to be *some* kind of Lost One, what with the mysterious origin and amnesia and all.
The Executioner and Her Way of Life is currently streaming on HIDIVE.
James is a writer with many thoughts and feelings about anime and other pop-culture, which can also be found on Twitterhis blog, and his podcast.