The war has began!
For the first time in the series, episode 21 is told entirely from Shun’s point of view. And for good reasons. The Empire has finally advanced near the elf village, and Hugo is out for blood. Of course, Shun’s party won’t stand idly while their friends are put into danger.
There are several things to note during the beginning of the episode. First, while Shun is the Hero, it is Hyrince who does all the planning and strategy. This stems from the fact that Hyrince is the most experienced member of the group, and so it is only natural that he will be the brains as much as Shun’s shield.
Incidentally, it is also Hyrince who urges Shun to run away if the situation proves dangerous. After all, they don’t owe the elves anything, and Shun’s life is more important than everyone else—even that of his friends.
But while this may be the case, Shun still pretty much wants to protect everyone. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. And this becomes evident when another reincarnator shows up on the side of the enemy: Kusama, an agent sent by the church itself. His infiltration disrupts everything, leading to the opening stages of the battle.
What’s sad about this entire encounter is the fact that while all of the reincarnators were in one classroom during their previous lives, they do not see each other as friends in their present lives but rather enemies. Kusama is simply following orders, and Shun will do everything he can to save his friends.
During his brief appearance, Kusama proves to be a different character than all the other reincarnators we’ve seen so far. He’s lively even if facing his former friends, and even cracks jokes during dangerous moments. Perhaps the main highlight of his arrival is how effortlessly he survives an attack from all of Shun’s party, excluding Oka. It goes to show how much the Church has trained Kusama, to the point that he can escape unscathed and fulfill his mission.
And with that, the battle begins in full swing. Surprisingly, Oka herself leads an army to repel the invasion. This makes her a prime target for the enemy commander: Hugo, now stronger and deadlier.
The battle itself is fierce and excellently animated. But what sets it apart from other battles is how it further develops Oka’s character. Instead of trying to save all her students, Oka begins to use deadly force after learning how Hugo manages to reclaim his former power, fully committing herself in fighting this time. The fact that she seemingly kills Yuri and nearly kills Hugo, who only survives due to Sophia’s intervention, shows how the situation is starting to change her views on her role as a teacher. It also displays her skills in magic and strategy, proving that she is not just a pretty elf.
Unfortunately, for all of Oka’s attempts, even she could not stop Hugo. However, Shun finally arrives, setting the stage for his rematch against his vengeful friend.
Overall, many might be disappointed by huge amount of screen time that Shun’s party has gotten in this. Nevertheless, episode 21 is still interesting in its own way, and there are some plot threads that are slowly being unraveled as the anime draws to a climactic season finale.
Episode score: 8.5/10.