Anime Rewatch 2021: Schwarzesmarken 6-7

Original Post

With only 12 episodes to cover 7 novels, cuts have to be made somewhere, and the biggest cuts are made here. Episode 6 covers the entirety of the fourth novel, while episode 7 covers the entirety of the fifth. That’s a lot of story to get through in a very short amount of time.

The fourth novel that episode 6 covers is a very talky one, so the anime blows through it without having to cut too many dramatic moments, focusing more on cutting down the dialogue to its essentials. You can really feel how quickly the episode needs to go by how fast characters are moved from place to place. Irisdina is taken away for interrogation – this was apparently a big enough deal that the first of the Schwarzesmarken game adaptations actually ends on this note – but she returns only 2 minutes later. Theodor accompanies Gretel to Berlin for a lengthy mission, but he also makes it back to base before the episode ends.

For all that, though, the episode still manages to hit hard with its Lise material. With Axemann now explicitly accusing Lise of being a Stasi spy, the suspicions that have been boiling beneath the surface now explode into the open. Lise is now able to confront the others about their misgivings candidly, and manipulate their sympathies in her favor. It of course all leads to the final moments of the episode, where Lise makes her move on Theodor. All of Lise’s scenes just work, so it’s a credit to the anime staff that the episode flows as well as it does, despite having to get through so much material. They had to sacrifice the ending credits to have enough time to cover everything, but it’s well worth it.

Episode 7, which covers the fifth novel, doesn’t work quite as well. The entire episode is one long protracted battle with the BETA, so there isn’t nearly as much material that can be cut down. The anime staff doesn’t really have a choice but to keep their heads down and plow through it as fast as possible. The battle in this episode doesn’t have any particularly larger significance, and the most important plot points concern the Stasi coup, which mostly takes in the background, so I do think it’s pretty clear why the anime staff designated this episode to take the biggest hit in terms of pacing. The episode moves at a breakneck pace, and at the end, it abruptly cuts to the ED, not even having enough time to close out the episode properly.

The worst part of the episode is the fact that the Stasi attack on the Scharzesmarken and Lise’s betrayal should be one of the biggest moments of the series, but it’s relegated to the post-credits of this episode and it isn’t given nearly the amount of time to play out that it should. We also lose out on some comedic Gretel material in Berlin, which is superfluous to the plot and absolutely should be cut in this situation, but it was funny stuff that I really liked, and I’m sad we don’t get to see it.

All of this cutting and rushing isn’t for nothing, though – by getting through these novels as quickly as possible, the anime makes room for the upcoming story arc, which is where things really heat up . . .

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