How would you rate episode 19 of
Platinum End ? Community score: 2.3
throughout its run, Platinum End has seen its overall plot and focus shift a few times, as if its own creators weren’t sure what, exactly, they wanted the story to be. Was it a high-level mental chess match? A trashy murder game starring insane super villains? A meditation on the nature of human happiness? Now, after all the twists and turns, this show has achieved its final form: a Reddit argument.
That’s a derogatory way to put it, but it’s also the most accurate comparison for this episode. “The Future of Humanity” consists entirely of our main characters floating in place and having half-baked, circuitous arguments that never resolve. They just trail off when the script gets tired of them. The only difference is most r/Atheism debates don’t end with a child getting shot with a sniper rifle.
That’s not exactly thrilling television, but it does at least put all of our remaining God Candidates’ motivations out on front street. So let’s break down what we learned from and about each of them:
Shuji: He wants to make it so anyone who wants to die can do it instantly and painlessly, and also everyone will think it’s a good thing. So the same thing he’s said since he arrived. Get new material, kid. What’s most interesting to me is that it never occurs to him that, as God, he could conceivably create a world where people wouldn’t want to die, but he’s also a kid so I can’t rag on him too much. Still weird nobody else around him has brought up that idea.
Yuri: She has the vague idea of a post-labor society run by automation and AI, but hasn’t actually thought about it much, to the point where she still figures such a society would need the concept of “rich” people, and basically wants somebody else to figure things out instead. She’s just in it for whoever promises to let her keep her magic brainwashing arrow. Somehow still probably the best plan of anyone this episode. Maybe give her a pamphlet on UBI or something, guys.
Susumu: Originally he wanted to make a world without cell phones, since he was too poor to have one and it made him feel left out at school. But now he’s hooked on the adrenaline of the Saturday morning cartoon he thinks he’s living in, and wants Everyone on earth to get magic killing arrows just to see what would happen. That’s terrifying, but also what I’d expect from a dumb kid, and it won’t matter by the end of the episode anyway.
Saki: Doesn’t actually have any ideas or plans, but thinks it’d be nice if everyone could be happy. What a contribution. Thanks for coming, Saki.
Mirai: Says that if he became God he, and I am not making this up, “wouldn’t you do anything.” Our hero, everyone. Eventually he expands on this by saying that a God who tries to change things is an invisible dictator, which sounds about right for the guy whose idea of heroism is letting somebody else do his job for him. Never doubt Mirai’s capacity for running away from any responsibility.
After spending half an episode establishing all that, we’re finally introduced in full to Professor Yoneda, a brilliant scientist and author who the show itself describes as “the smartest man in the world.” And like every character Ohba writes to be smart, he talks in roundabout, pointlessly condescending monologues to make his own point, and boy is it a doozy. See, he doesn’t believe there’s an actual omnipotent God, and instead the being that created the Angels is some kind of psychic amalgamation created by humanity’s collective imagination. Not only that, it sensed that more people were no longer believing in it, and thus created the entire God Candidacy as a way to bolster faith and ensure its existence continued. But Yoneda thinks humanity at large has advanced beyond the need for theism, and proposes they just…don’t pick a God, let the current one die, and exist in a new era where everyone 100% knows that God doesn’t exist.
Now, credit where it’s due, that’s actually a pretty interesting angle to take on this whole setup. I said before that it’s always a sticky concept to reconcile atheism with a story where God is an observable, provable entity, and while it’s funny to see a man literally competing to become God say that God isn’t real, this is at least an idea you could do something with. Unfortunately this is Platinum End and we can’t have nice things, so the ensuing argument is a car crash in dialogue form. Because no matter how interesting these ideas might be, they still have to be articulated through the characters, and none of our heroes can string more than two sentences together without saying something colossally dumb.
My favorite has to be when Saki, without a hint of irony, compares the concept of God being both fake and necessary, to Santa Claus. These are the six most powerful people in the world, on the precipice of defining all of existence, and they’re having the kind of arguments middle school teachers overhear during lunch time. A strong second place is when, in response to Mirai asking what would happen to the people of Earth who need to believe in a God to survive, Yoneda responds with “well that’s only 0.1% of the world so whatever.” Like, where did he get that statistic? How does one define if they need to believe in God to keep living? Who did that survey? The actual answer, of course, is that Yoneda pulled it out of his ass, because just like every other philosophy in this show it’s a poorly considered rhetorical dead end. For the millionth time, this series is trying to present itself and an erudite battle of wills, but has done none of the leg work.
Of course, it wouldn’t be Platinum End if we didn’t cap all this off with some graphic (yet remarkably unshocking) violence! While our cast are arguing about whether God is like, For Really Real, a team of snipers have their rifles poised on them and wouldn’t ya know it, one of them gets spotted by Susumu! How nobody by the 10-year-old noticed is anyone’s guess, but he of course thinks it’s a new adventure, and gets a bullet right through his chest for his trouble.
That’s meant to be our shocking cliffhanger, but it’s such a random and meaningless death that it’s hard to really care. More than anything I’m just sad that Susumu is going to be gone, since the little sociopath had the most potential to be entertaining. But now he’s just a cheap bit of suspense at the end of an otherwise vacuous episode. If my patience for this show hasn’t been long depleted, I might even call it disappointing.
Platinum End is currently streaming on Crunchyroll and Funimation.