There are several signs that you might be an anime villain of the 1990s. Certainly one of them is a tendency to lick your lips inappropriately, but others include holding a knife in your mouth, wearing a venomous snake as a boa, and, of course, a total inability to listen to others. In The Vision of Escaflowne, you can add “have pink or purple hair while still being human” to that list. (As a cat, Merle is exempt.) These two episodes go all-in on those particular tropes, with a bonus return to “my beautiful face is ruined” from last week, and if Dilandau wasn’t so scary, he’d be almost a caricature. But in some senses, that’s actually why he’s such an effective villain; he may be a walking stereotype of 90s anime bad guys, but he’s also so completely in his own evil world that it’s difficult to predict what he’ll do next. We can guess that he won’t listen to anyone, but how he’ll go off the rails is generally a new and terrible way of ignoring direct orders. It gets to the point where we have to wonder why Folken (or Dornkirk) keeps him around–presumably there’s a reason beyond “super effective at killing people.”
And he certainly is that–episode seven has some of his more brutal scenes as he decides that civilian deaths are a perfectly acceptable price to pay for possibly capturing Van and the Escaflowne. If he’d caught them, maybe someone in Zaibach would have overlooked the rest, but given that they appear to be working diplomatically as well as destructively to meet their goals, Dilandau’s wanton destruction of Palas ought to meet with some form of official censure. If they don’t, that’s a sign we ought to be paying attention to.
On the subject of paying attention, while there are several major reveals this week, not the least of which is the fact that Van has beautiful feathery wings and that he’s starting to feel a little differently about Hitomi. Among those feelings appears to be a sense of protectiveness alongside the thought that he wants to repay her for saving his life all those times. The former is what’s interesting, because we see a distinct difference in how Van treats Hitomi and how Allen treats Hitomi and Millerna. Van accepts that Hitomi is good at what she does; unless she’s actively being abducted by what are very much not friendly neighborhood spidermen (they’re geckos, but the whole ceiling thing made me think spiders) or falling to her death, he trusts her to be able to take care of herself–and to help him when he needs it. Allen, on the other hand, spends most of his time in these episodes treating Millerna like she’s a porcelain doll (which we’ve seen him to do Hitomi as well) and using what is apparently the Power of his Almighty Kisses to subdue her and keep the little woman at home. It’s like something out of a terrible old school romance novel–he kisses her into submission and then runs off, completely ignoring her wishes and affording her zero agency. The only positive here is that Millerna had been trying to get him to kiss her, so there was at least a little consent involved.
The way Allen treats her does explain her girl-on-girl aggression towards Hitomi, though. She’s been raised to believe that her value is as an asset to her father, and we can extrapolate that her older sister Marlene, with whom Allen was possibly in love, was married off despite her feelings and later died, leaving behind a child. (Given aspects of Gaea’s technology, she may even have died in childbirth.) So while she resents her father betrothing her to someone, she also knows that it’s what’s expected of her, and any chance she has of escaping that fate is tied to convincing Allen to take her with him. She’s hitched her wagon to his fight, so to speak, and for him to reject her help is damning her to duty. But it’s also part of Millerna finding her self-worth in a man, and since she’s after Allen (and sees him as her way out), that makes Hitomi a threat to both her plans and her sense of self. I still dislike seeing her pick on Hitomi, but the story does give her a reason why.
On a similar note, Hitomi is beginning to subconsciously realize that nine-tenths of her attraction to Allen is because she believes he looks like Amano. Her dream of gadding about Tokyo with Allen, doing the things she would with Amano, only to have Millerna come in and take him away says that she knows that it’s his appearance, not his personality, that she’s drawn to. Getting away from him with Van and Merle stands to progress Hitomi’s character growth substantially, especially since she’s beginning to open up to Van as he’s treating her like a companion, not a Girl.
Watching their characters evolve is one of the highlights of the show so far. Now that Van has revealed his wings and we’ve seen his Energist resonate with the fossils at the dig site we should be getting more of his past. Since this will inform how both he and Folken turned out the way they did, that almost certainly is something to look forward to.
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