After last week’s bombshell episode, it makes sense that The Executioner and Her Way of Life would slow things down and take stock for a bit, especially since the show is now just beginning the adaptation of the second light novel of the series (or so I’ve read). All of this is to say that “Port City of Libelle” is very much a transition episode, where the focus is primarily on delivering a lot of setup and exposition for what is to come in this second half of the series. exciting chapter of story by any means, but it gets the job done.
Now that Menou thinks she knows the truth about Akari’s plight, her long term goal has become discovering a way to prevent the future wherein she fails to kill Akari for good. Unbeknownst to Menou, of course, is the fact that this is also exactly what Akari wants, too, and Akari has gone through who knows how many time loops to make sure that Menou can succeed in killing her. It’s a great conflict that is rife with dramatic irony and inevitable tragedy, which really helps get us through an episode that is mostly about introducing a new setting (and kind of introducing a new antagonist).
So far as the setting and characters go, if there’s any major weakness to “Port City of Libelle”, it’s the fact that we don’t really get a great idea of what to expect from these new story elements. The most interesting aspect of Port Libelle itself is The Pandemonium, a seemingly endless veil of fog that contains one of the Four Human Errors that almost ended the word, and it’s mostly just used here for Menou to have another failed attempt at murdering Akari. I’m sure there could well be more for the show to get out of The Pandemonium, and I’m amused by the joke where True Akari is utterly unphased at the prospect of being devoured by an eldritch horror for the umpteenth time. We’ll just have to see where things go from here.
The same can be said for the Lady Manon Libelle herself. Outside of the backstory we get about how Flare was responsible for murdering Manon’s mother, the main tease we get for the character’s presence in the story is her murderous streak. Not only does she presumably murder all of those representatives of the “Fourth” caste of society with those dubious sandwiches, but Manon is all too happy to send that singing little girl on a play date with an Iron Maiden. pop up in the OP, I’m sure they’ll have plenty to do in future episodes, but for now, again, we can only guess.
If it sounds like I disliked this episode, that isn’t true; I thought the overall sense of world-building and pacing was pretty solid, and there were a lot of likeable character interactions between our leading trio. I especially loved the allusion to Momo’s mostly offscreen battle with Ashuna, since the latter’s obvious crush on the former is an adorable little companion piece to the central relationship between Menou and Akari.
This is just one of those kinds of episodes that doesn’t inspire a lot of strong feelings either way, so it is not a terrible sign, even if very mild criticisms end up occupying a disproportionate amount of the word count. It’s okay, because “Port City if Libelle” isn’t really trying to blow anyone’s mind.
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.