Return to Babylon

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fun show

Hi there. Yes, it’s time to get back to Babylon – the recently concluded TV anime based on a novel series by Nozaki Mado, everybody’s favorite non-ending wizard who you might remember from Seikai Suru Kado. For those who don’t know: I’ve written about its first volume. Babylon TV, one of those precious Twin Engine productions, had a bit of a weird release schedule. The first three episodes (covering volume one of the novel) came out all at once in early October, while the last, twelvth episode was released at the end of January. You could consider it a Fall 2019 anime then. I guess. Something’s telling me such shenanigans will be happening more and more from now on… But that’s a topic for another story. I’ll try to make this post short, please bear with me.

A short reminder of what happened in the first story arc: prosecutor Seizaki Zen, dedicated to the cause of everything good and fair discovers a large-scale conspiracy involving Itsuki Kaika, a young politician recently elected to lead a new mega-city west of Tokyo. Always in Kaika’s shadow is Magase Ai – the purple-haired woman with strange powers: she can change appearance at will and make men do her bidding using a mindrapey ability. And I’m not joking here. You’d have to see how it works. And she seems to be particularly interested in Seizaki. In Itsuki Kaika’s speech made after he wins the elections, the politician announces his plan to instate “the right to die” in his city-state’s law for the first time ever. Looks like the story will be about suicide and the freedom to kill oneself. The atmosphere around this announcement seems like “embracing death” will turn out to be a civilizational advance of cosmic importance. We’ll see…

From here on, it’s unknown territory. Seizaki spends the next four episodes (volume two) planning how to stop the devilish couple – he manages to dig out some facts about Magase Ai and her past and sets up a trap with kidnapping Itsuki Kaika as the goal. The other side doesn’t sit on their hands either, though. Wanting to convince the public opinion that 100% legal suicide is a good idea, he proposes a debate on live TV. He defeats his opponents in a dramatical manner and leaves, untouched. Meanwhile, Magase Ai kills all Seizaki’s subordinates and since she uses her womanly superpower to do it, she’s legally innocent – the massacre formally was a “mass suicide”. Seizaki loses. Again.

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i like her too

Seizaki is utterly defeated and even contemplates suicide. Thankfully, a ray of hope appears in the form of an American who pays the prosecutor a visit. Seizaki will now join the FBI and chase Magase Ai on a larger-scale, international stage…

Remember how Kado clearly went off the rails in its eighth episode? Well, guess what happens in episode eight of Babylon. I have no idea how different from this the third story arc is in the novels, but it felt like bad anime-original content. There’s a whopping five episodes to go and this show clearly has nothing to fill it with. It’s like they ran out of ideas. Those five episodes are mainly spent on fictional heads of states having debates on ethics, while cosmic imagery floats in the background. Not even joking. Maybe it’s more interesting in literary form. They clearly intended to make the president of the United States a new, significant character in the story. A co-protagonist, even. That dude with the glasses introduced to the OP in later episodes? That’s the president. And it *does not work*. Those five last episodes are an exercise in tedium. At least until it’s time to roll out the ending. Ooh, the ending…

HUGE SPOILERS AHEAD.
Magase Ai pulls off a ploy which results in her managing to mindrape the American president. The prez fails to kill himself, however. And that’s because Seizaki shoots him first, just so that the suicide of the Leader of the Free World can be avoided. Magase Ai had been having debates on ethics with Seizaki everytime she could, so it looks like her ultimate goal was to break the justice-obsessed hero. She forced a gigantic ethical dilemma on him, and him solving it resulted in screwing himself over in probably the biggest way in history. I mean, I guess that’s what the intention was. That’s probably the most sense-making answer to the question of “why did Seizaki shoot the president out of nowhere?” Because nothing is ever clearly explained and you’re doomed to try and work the ending out on your own.

So, I’ve seen people saying that’s a good ending. They’re like “ooh, the villain won, how intriguing”. EXCUSE ME? I guess we got a nice, ironic twist there. But what happened to the world? Am I supposed to just accept Magase Ai has superpowers for some reason? What about the Shin’iki? What about the right to die? The huge, world-scale plan to make suicide accepted? What were they for? What was *the entire story up until this point* for?! This whole complicated plot spanning three paperbacks, or twelve episodes of a TV anime, was there only so that they could pull off this minor twist that makes you go “that was kind of neat”? Woooow. People are *stupid* if they buy that.

Oh and after the credits, there’s a scene in which Magase Ai meets Seizaki’s son. What was that for? What does it all mean? Did Seizaki survive? ??? The entire ending provokes you to think “all of this must mean something, how do I interprete this?”. So you exercise your gray matter for a while… and come up with nothing. It’s meaningless. Wow. What a nonsense ending. Kado’s was actually preferable to this mess. Oh well. At least it was fun until episode eight…

Sigh… Babylon, I tell ya. I don’t see Nozaki Mado getting another adaptation anytime soon. Or a screenwriting gig. The attachment he seems to feel to garbagey endings in stories is abnormal. From what I’ve read, it looks like *every* work of his can “boast” about having that ignoble feature. Does he think that’s acceptable? Is this intentional? I hear the novels end differently, but from what I managed to gather, it’s a different kind of nonsense ending. Oh boy. “Read the novels”, you say. Maybe I will. And then maybe I’ll regret it… Now I’m low-key mad.

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