This episode is a good reminder that “protagonist” is not synonymous with “good guy.” After beholding the gruesome chaos unfolding in the wake of Aya’s investigation, it’s tempting to conclude that both villages might have been better off if her cage had never graced their doorstep. She and Tsugaru don’t seem too concerned about the bloodshed going on around them either. Tsugaru even adds to the body count. Nevertheless, it makes sense when you consider their motivations. Solving this mystery was a means to an end; their true goal was stopping Moriarty from finding the werewolf village himself and using their blood to further his mad lust for power. A handful (or several) of corpses along the way doesn’t factor into their ambitions one way or another.
It’s also worth remembering that both Aya and Tsugaru are inhuman, and they’ve approached all of their cases with a heavy dose of aloofness. It’s especially understandable from Aya, who has been around the block for centuries upon centuries. You’d expect Tsugaru to be more empathetic, and he probably is, but he also strikes me as a guy who was always a bit of an outcast weirdo. While these qualities don’t make these characters more likable in the traditionally heroic sense, it does make them more interesting personalities with more interesting relationships between themselves and others. For instance, I loved their short interaction with Victor. It’s friendly, ruthless, and manipulative at the same time. They’re foes with a common enemy, and you can feel the mutual respect and malice mixing together into a fun, farcical concoction. I hope their correspondence continues into later arcs.
Last week’s focus on Shizuku makes even more sense in light of these current events. Unlike Aya and Tsugaru, and unlike her own stony mien might suggest, Shizuku is genuinely sympathetic and actually cares about the girls who rescued her. She takes measures to avoid making further trouble for Kaya and Vera, and she goes off on her own during the end credits to find Kaya and save her from the massacre (and from Carmilla). Shizuku, consequently, also anchors the other members of the Cage User trio to a baseline of humanity. Aya might not think twice about either set of villagers, but she does care enough about Shizuku to let her do as her conscience dictates. Or Aya is just smart enough to know she can’t stop Shizuku from stumbling into yet another pile of nude women.
Meanwhile, the assault within Wolphinhel reveals the humans greatly exaggerated the indestructibility of the werewolves. That’s hardly surprising; insular rhetoric always breeds all kinds of distortions about outsiders. Wolphinhel’s own insularity does it no favors either. While it has strong warriors, their highly ritualized and segregated society leaves the more vulnerable members open to attack. They value physical strength over solidarity and support. But the humans from Heulendorf are also guilty of this. The abandonment of Louise is the original sin that spurred this entire tragedy. If her parents had loved her as much as Rosa had loved Jutte, then these murders would have never taken place. The varying degrees of individual and collective culpability of both sides, as well as the various sources of third party interference, make it nearly impossible to boil this conflict down into simplistic moral terms. Like many battles throughout history, this one is a confluence of bad decisions on all sides.
Speaking of the murders, I’m not gonna be too hard on myself for failing to foresee the existence of a secret underground tunnel several miles long conveniently connecting both villages. I love, too, that Aya explains its existence in the most insufferably matter-of-fact manner, like it’s the most obvious solution in the world. That’s why she’s the brains of this operation. It’s not just by default. That said, this pretty much confirms that Jutte has been posing as Louise. Rosa showed Jutte the entrance before she succumbed to the fire, Jutte escaped to Wolphinhel and posed as Nora, and then about a year and a half ago she kidnapped Louise and kept her in the tunnel while she lived a double (technically triple) life across both villages. While I’m still fuzzy on what the other double murders were about, I’m fairly confident that Jutte at last killed Louise and used her body to fake her own death. So the grave Vera just opened is empty, while Jutte/Nora is still alive and, presumably, available for explanations next week.
This is the first time I’ve been slightly frustrated with the pacing and structure of the narrative, however. The second half of the episode drags a tad despite all the chaos going on. I liked the London arc’s transition into a free-for-all melee, so this might be a case of diminishing returns on a similar turn of events. The plotting is sloppier here, though, with the Royce agents just happening to stumble on the tunnel, followed by them rounding up the villagers entirely offscreen. Once we get to the action itself, it’s schlocky and over the top in a good way—Kyle knows how to work that chain—but there’s also tonal dissonance with the legitimate horror of the genocide going on. I don’t think that discomfort is necessarily an unintended effect either. If it ties this into the resolution next week, then Undead Murder Farce can definitely still stick the landing.
Undead Murder Farce is currently streaming on