Episode 9 – Oscha: The Endless Project
I’m afraid today’s post is going to be short. My reasoning: two upcoming episodes, 12 and 13, are a two-parter and I want them to be in their own spotlight post. Unfortunately, if I combined Eps 9-11 into one post to get to that point, it would go way over my self-imposed word limit for Final Fantasy posts, so I’ve decided to let Ep 9 stand on its own. It seems like a better choice than Ep 11, considering that Ep 9 is actually one of my favourite episodes in the show! That is not an April Fool’s joke, I actually think about this episode a lot. It’s weird, but it’s – shall we say? – artistically weird. If you can believe that.
The episode begins with Lisa recounting the attack of the Gun and Sword Dragons on Eath. After the credits we pick up with the party leaving the train, where they come across a large room that Lou says she recognizes, which means she can exposit about it as we go along. The room is a great mechanical hall with a brazier in the middle, and lining the walls are rows and rows of workmen in front of a series of treadmills. And as they work, they chant:
Work neverending! Our work is never done!
Tearing down, building up,
It goes on and on.
We get a close look at their work and see that the men are wearing whole-body jumpers that conceal the face, and are assembling strange, cubic devices, and then disassembling the same devices when they reaches the opposite end of the assembly line. From there, the parts go on in a circuit, being assembled, disassembled, reassembled, forever.
Jumping to the Earl, we learn that all efforts are being focused on finding the fragments of Omega, with almost none of the previously-seen regard for Kaze or the party. Oscha says that Omega has been broken down into Crystals, which is, for some flub of the localization, phrased as an excuse for why Omega can’t be found? That is to say: the Earl asks “Why haven’t you found Omega?” and Oscha replies, “Oh well, because he’s crystals.” This leaves me wondering… so? …And…? Are the crystals in different places? (They are.) Are they small and hard to find? (Some are!) It’s like they made a segue to an explanation that doesn’t exist! The Earl has just ordered Oscha to go back out Omega when Crux arrives with information about the party.
Back in the work room, Lou explains that the workers have chosen this state of perpetual work, because working is somehow directly connected to staying alive in Wonderland (you can draw a thematic line to real life from here rather easily). She says that this perpetual work gimmick will keep them alive for eternity – or at least give them purpose for eternity, depends on how you read it – but in a dreadful state of unceasing repetition that the rest of the cast bemoans. Lou says the workers have no other cares in the world and no connection to others, so they’re happy doing the same petty thing for all eternity, without any greater purpose.
I think about this episode a lot.
Lou says she likes it here because the workers were the first people in Wonderland who didn’t care she was a shapeshifter. She says that she’s been looking for a travelling partner all this time, which you should bear in mind when the episode ends.
Just then, most of the cast begins to panic, giving a variety of excuses as to why depending on the character. Lisa, for example, says the “energy” here has changed. We quickly see the impact, if not the cause: the workers have stopped disassembling and are now only assembling, and in a short time they’ve assembled a massive cube out of the smaller ones. The next moment, the workers begin to panic in individual voices instead of a unified chant, and all soon collapse into unconsciousness, though whether this is magically done or happens because they’ve now lost their perpetual source of work and panicked to the point of collapse. The ominous mood here is very well done for once.
Once the workers are aside, the cube begins to glow and transforms into a giant, gangly robot that looks something like a multi-armed Oscha. Kaze, who’s been remembering his shotgun a lot lately (not that firing it ever accomplishes anything), draws it but then curiously opens fire to the side, at what seems to be a blank wall. As the cast watches in confusion, Oscha reveals himself in that general area, crawling as if out of thin air, upside-down, another great visual in a surprisingly high-tier episode so far. Oscha begins introductions, and when questioned as to his motives, he says that, “For the sake of Wonderland, we’re going to bury the evil destroyer once and for all.” In a great display of confidence in Kaze, Ai immediately assumes that “the evil destroyer” is Kaze, which I guess does fit the evidence but is also unintentionally hilarious.
Yu asks why the workers stopped working, and Oscha implies that he stopped them out of some imperative to keep Wonderland in a constant state of flux rather than consistency. That’s all you’re going to get, sorry.
Next, it’s Kaze’s turn to ask a question, about Makenshi of course. Oscha just brushes the question off, and for some reason this causes the Magun to thaw. Oscha orders the robot to open fire, but the missiles are shot down by Lou in her wolf form. Hey, teamwork! If this developed further this show might be regularly interesting! Ahh, that’d be nice, wouldn’t it? If only.
Anyways. Oscha taunts Kaze, saying that the robot can resist basically all elemental effects and standard attacks (for once, it really sounds like something out of a video game) and asks what kind of Soil could possibly hurt it. Kaze’s got some… interesting answers in the Soil selection. It’s clear he’s not using any “regular” ammo today:
The soil charge triad to use on you has been decided!
The light that dictates the time of eternity: Luminous Silver.
The darkness that dictates the time of destruction: Demolition Black.
The moment that dictates the time of extinction: Steel Grey.
Penetrate! I summon you! Odin!
Yup, that might do it.
In one further show of teamwork, Lisa’s Kigen Arts protect the party from the robot’s explosion, but Kaze curiously missing after the dust settles. To make things worse, another robot rises from the original, just so Yu and Chobi can help out for once (startling, I know, but it just adds to the general quality of the episode). The Final Fantasy victory music plays as comically as ever.
After this, the workers recover and return to their immortal cycle of constructing and deconstructing, seemingly no longer compelled to construct more battle mechs or finish their work. Following this, Lou announces how she’s going to follow Kaze forever and ever. And yes, she really does leave the party at this point, which is stranger than it sounds, because she won’t be seen for ages despite Kaze being in every episode! I wonder if her storyline was damaged by the show’s early cancellation? It’s early enough in the season that I can’t be certain!
In a closing scene, Oscha returns to the Earl, claiming that he was working not on the Omega project, but on getting some “food for Chaos.” As he talks, we zoom in on the eye-slits in his mask to reveal that Oscha’s eye was the hideous eye that we saw briefly back in Episode 1.