Well, holy shit. I may have been down on the more predictable plot beats that The Executioner and Her Way of Life bust out last week, but all of that was clearly just your basic setup for the real twists that we got here in “[Regression: Memories, Soul, Spirit]”. All of that nonsense with Archbishop Orwell that was played up as the Big Bad Reveal earlier? Yeah, she’s super dead before this episode is even finished, and that’s just fine with me, because the true conflict of the series is finally coming into focus.
Mechanically speaking, the twist of Akari’s “true” self isn’t the most unique thing in the world, since time-loop stories have been a thing at least since when Bill Murray got stuck in Punxsutawney back in 1990 (and there’s maybe a few anime that revolve around time loops, too, I guess). However—and you’ll have to pardon the pun—it’s the execution of the Akari reveal that makes the whole thing work so well. Once we realize that Akari has done this whole thing many times before, and that she’s come to completely disregard any aspect of the world that isn’t Menou, her naïve and bubbly nature makes so much more sense. The girl is literally shooting time magic into her brain whenever she gets her memories back so that the only thing she has any attachment to is Menou, because Menou is the girl she loves more than anything in existence. Also, Menou might just be the only person in existence that can finally murder Akari dead, for reals…so, yeah, true love!
There’s a lot to unpack about this that I can’t wait to dig into, but first I should commend the episode for its other great reveal, which is that Momo is a fucking beast that can barely be contained, and all Akari has to do to wreak absolute chaos on the Archbishop’s plan is burn Momo’s precious ribbons to cinders and unleash the child’s wild side. I’m a sucker for anime characters losing their goddamned minds over the cheesiest symbols of their undying love, so you can imagine that I was pretty stoked to watch Momo unleash hell-in-a-handbasket all over foes and friends that stood between her and a pair of cute replacement scrunchies.
That said, if I had one major complaint about “[Regression: Memories, Soul, Spirit]”, it’s that the production can’t always stay ahead of the story’s ambitions. There are moments where Hisako Kanemoto (Momo) and Moe Kahara (Akari) are doing their best to act the heck out of their dialogue, and the character animation is just a bit too stiff and limited to sell the drama and intensity of what is going on. There’s even a weird cut during the final dream sequence where all of the spoken dialogue is just played over the un-animated mouths of the characters, which I’m pretty sure is an intentional choice, though it comes across really weird when Flare shows up and just talks like a normal person.
Still, though, if The Executioner and Her Way of Life had my curiosity before, it damn well has my attention now. It’d be one thing if Akari was just twisted and insane because of how many times she’s relived this journey with Menou, but it’s another thing altogether when their relationship is still rooted in a warped expression of genuine love, a love that seemingly must end in tragedy and murder. That is the kind of grandiose anime nonsense that I absolutely live for, and I cannot wait to see where this story takes us from here.
The Executioner and Her Way of Life is currently streaming on
James is a writer with many thoughts and feelings about anime and other pop-culture, which can also be found on Twitter, his blog, and his podcast.