Anime Rewatch 2021: Schwarzesmarken 8-10

Original Post

This is what we’ve been waiting for – the anime has rushed through the last few novels so that it will have enough episodes to devote to this last section of the story. This sixth novel gets 3 full episodes dedicated to it, more than any other novel in the series, and it shows. These episodes actually have time to breathe, to allow its major emotional moments to land with the strength that they deserve.

Episode 8 is Katia’s story. The entire episode is a build-up to her big reveal to Heim at the end that she is Alfred Strachwitz’s daughter, and that she volunteers to unveil herself to the public to push the revolution forward. Although the story doesn’t say so explicitly, the truth is that we’ve basically seen the last of Irisdina from this point until the final moments of the series, so Irisdina is no longer a major player in the series. Instead, these last few episodes focus on the seeds that Irisdina has sown throughout the story, and the way Katia steps forward to be the face of the revolution, exposing herself to immense danger, is the largest of those seeds bearing fruit.

We also get a small flashback of Gretel in Berlin, which I talked about a little last time. Interestingly, in the anime Susi berates her for her “Katia” disguise, claiming there’s no way such a flimsy ruse would fool the Stasi – in the fifth novel, Gretel actually does manage to dodge some soldiers by pretending to be like Katia and pissing herself. I can’t help but feel like the anime is passing judgment on the novels, by insisting that there’s no way that scene would actually have played out that way. Maybe I’m just reading too much into it, but it is true that the anime plays things with a much more serious tone than the novels do, cutting out many of the lighter moments and comic relief.

The other two episodes in this block are largely dedicated to Lise, whose story comes to an end here. There’s a lot to say about Lise, but looking over my original post on these episodes, I already wrote a lot about her motivations there. I’ll just reiterate here that, despite going full Stasi in these episodes, she was never a true believer in the system. Her Requiem short story, which she refers to briefly to Theodor, explains exactly what she went through after the Stasi captured her, and it’s a tragic story. She sides with them here because, after being so thoroughly broken by them, she just can’t bring herself to believe that the revolution can defeat them. She asks Theodor multiple times to drop everything and run for the border with her rather than fight a battle they can’t win, and it’s in those moments when we see her true feelings. It’s her greatest wish to leave all of this behind, and it’s her greatest tragedy that Theodor can no longer do that with her.

I mentioned in my original post that the ending to episode 10 was changed slightly for the anime. In the novels, Lise was taken prisoner and brought back to base, where Susi forced Theodor to carry out a formal execution. The anime changes it so that Theodor puts her out of her misery in her TSF’s cockpit. The anime Blu-rays come with liner notes written by the original author, Hiroki Uchida, and for this episode he explains that he had actually considered writing Lise’s death scene this way for the novels as well, but that in the end he felt that the formal execution scene fit the novel structure better. But he was still fond of his unused death scene, and he was happy when the director, Tetsuya Watanabe, proposed a similar idea for the anime.

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