A ghost in a shell!
Episode 5 is both a haunting and melancholic episode, not the least of which is due to several twists revealed in here. It seems that Lena and Shin’s are intertwined to a deeper level, with one common factor: Shin’s own elder brother, Shourei.
It turns out that Shourei has actually saved Lena from death, and it was this incident that further cemented her father’s ideals into her. And though the scene is short, we actually managed to learn a lot about Shourei as a character, which is once again a rare treat in most adaptation nowadays. He is kind, patriotic, and obviously cherishes Shin more than his own life. But more than that, he doesn’t hate the country he is fighting for, and would even die for it.
Meanwhile, seeds of love are slowly growing for Lena, and we see her getting closer to Shin, evident by a few daydreams and her own interactions. Of course, this is already expected as our dear Handler One is now in constant communication with the Undertaker, even during her spare time. However, war is unexpected, and as the Spearhead Squadron enters another engagement, a horrifying truth that tightly binds their fate reveals itself.
For one, the Legion itself is not just a mere advanced AI-controlled army; they are literally based on a person’s brain pattern. The worse and terrifying part about this is the fact that they would actively seek an undamaged brain to assimilate, essentially making them an army of mechanized zombies.
Perhaps the biggest shock of all is the fact that Shin already died, but was revived, and gained the power to hear the voices of the dead. And while this twist is mostly common in fantasy and supernatural genres, including that in a sci-fi war drama adds another layer to the story. It was not a forced plot element either, and it heavily affects the story and characters to a great degree, especially since it explains why no one Handler stayed in the Spearhead. This is obvious when Lena begins to hear the voices of the Legion, including poor Kaie, and has a mental breakdown. The voice-acting is top-notched in this scene, and the eerie and horror vibe adds more impact.
Given all that has happened, it is no surprise that Shin behaves the way he does. But that only makes him a really strong and interesting character—after all, most people would have gone insane from hearing these disembodied voices at all times. However, it is not just Shin who has strength in him, but Lena as well; contrary to what the squadron expected, she returned to her duty despite her harrowing experiences.
Overall, episode 5 is another fantastic one full of shocking twists and surprises. The production continues to exceed expectations, especially with the animation. But more than that, the pacing is perfect, and we got several hints of more twists to come in the upcoming episode.
Episode score: 10/10.