As the final showdown with Suisho draws near, Granbelm took some time off for a picnic.
The show’s “everything important happens on the night of the full moon” setup has been a bit of a double edged sword at times; it can be easy to become a bit detached from goings on when there large swathes of time missing between episodes where presumably everyone just sits around twiddling their thumbs. The drama of stuff like Nene choosing to reveal herself back in episode 4 loses a bit of impact when you consider nobody really had a chance to act on this for a few weeks afterwards. On the other hand the structure does allow for downtime episodes like this and the show is definitely the better for them.
After a brief encounter with a now awakened Shisui (more on that later) the bulk of the episode shifted the perspective to Shingetsu as she continued agonizing over her role in creating Mangetsu, convincing herself that her own weakness is to blame, an idle childhood thought and some weakness of character combining to create a living doll to fill a gap she should have been able to deal with herself. This spiral of self recrimination threatens to overwhelm her until Mangetsu intervenes.
Mangetsu herself has developed a somewhat different perspective on things. While Shingetsu blames herself for creating life just to suffer an fight Mangetsu is thankful that she got to exist at all. While it’s clearly not intended that way, Shingetsu’s consistent assumption that Mangetsu’s existence is inherently negative serves to ignore her friend’s feelings entirely. While it’s all well and good feeling bad for what she’s putting Mangetsu through she’s to an extent centering her own self doubts over the feelings of the person she’s beating herself up over.
As her existence continues to degrade Mangetsu seems to have come to terms with her own impending demise. While she’s not exactly overjoyed by it obviously she is resolved to go out on her own terms, willing to sacrifice her own existence to ensure that Shingetsu’s dream of ending magic is realised, even going so far as to hide the out offered by Nene; using the power of the Princeps to sustain her existence as it would require that dream to be at least partially incomplete. After a (very convenient honestly) chance encounter with some of her former classmates she finally manages to overcome her own fears of irrelevance. Even something so small as being remembered in passing by her peers is a sign that she existed. Mangetsu was never nothing, her mundane life might have been unremarkable but it did impact those around her in some small way. There are also hints that even the other girls who were erased are still remembered on some subconscious level, with Shisui tearing up in confusion at the mention of Kuon’s name near the start of the episode.
Rather than mourn the end rushing up to meet her Mangetsu instead choses to embrace the oportunity she’s been given that the others weren’t; a chance to say goodbye on her own terms. Where Kuon and Anna were merely erased Mangetsu has been given a stay of execution of sorts, and it’s this which allows her to try to get her affairs in order to an extent, and reaffirm her resolve to have her undoing be for something meaningful.
In spite of this determination though there’s something wistful about the way Mangetsu opts to use her remaining time, spending the day of the full moon having a picnic with the remaining people close to her; Shingetsu, the Rin sisters, a slightly bemused Kibou and Shisui. She has one last talk with the sister who no longer remembers her and tries to encourage Shingetsu, affirming that “there’s no such thing as someone who has nothing” in response to her friend’s continuing self doubt about erasing the one thing she sees herself as worthwhile for. While the trip mostly serves as a final chance to be together with loved ones it’s also the stage for her exit. Once last flashy assertion of her existence to a group of people who forget her the moment they look away. It’s genuinely crushing watching the few people who remember and care about her shift from slightly perplexed amusement at her antics to “what were we looking at again?” in a matter of seconds as the fireworks fade.
As her creator Shingetsu still manages to percieve the fading Mangetsu as they enter the world of the Magiaconatus together one last time. Given the colour scheme the last stage is presumably Mangetsu’s although what exactly the spikes signify remains to be seen.
While the show is clearly setting up Mangetsu’s self sacrifice in order to allow Shingetsu to triumph over Suisho, I can’t help but feel like that’s not how it’s going to pan out exactly. Shingetsu’s increasing doubts about erasing magic (especially after Nene lets slip that it could be used to keep Mangetsu alive) combined with Mangetsu’s overly gung ho attitude make the self sacrifice route seem potentially unsatisfying. Is Shingetsu’s victory worth it if it comes at the cost of killing her best friend?
This does also raise the possibility that even this is all staged. We’re mostly taking Suisho’s word for it that Mangetsu was created to help Shingetsu, while the “loved by Magiaconatus” explanation is plausible it does seem like Mangetsu’s being increasingly positioned as an obstacle to Shingetsu’s dream. Given the entity’s seeming omnipotence it’s not unreasonable that it’s aware of what Shingetsu plans to do, in this light Mangetsu is either the ultimate test of Shingetsu’s resolve to see her goal reached or a deliberate attempt to disuade her from that path.
They also keep coming back to Nene’s research, as we reach the final battle it’s easy to dismiss her, especially now that she’s forgotten Mangetsu entirely, but the fact that she’s actively delving into Granbelm’s secrets in the background is something the show has returned to repeatedly, so she may still have some role to play in devising an alternate solution.
It’s entirely possible that this is all wishful thinking and Mangetsu is fated to sacrifice herself for Shingetsu but I’ll keep holding on to hope that there’s some less cruel way for things to pan out. If all else fails Shingetsu clearly has a promising career as a chef ahead of her.