Well, that was a thing. This was kind of a classic good news, bad news scenario. We got easily the best episode of Helck since before the flashback arc started. But we got nothing at the end of it except credits and a retrospective outro. Manga readers have made it very clear that the anime couldn’t possibly finish in two cours – that was no news. But I expected something at the end. An announcement, an anime-original ending, anything – some attempt to provide a bit of closure to the finale. Instead, in almost Gangsta fashion (and that had an excuse, the studio ceased to exist) it just stopped.
I have no idea where we go from here. I think it’s pretty likely that there will be no third cour unless it was greenlit in advance – and if so, why not announce it here? The weird thing is, what was the plan exactly? I can’t say I expected Helck to be a big commercial success. And this adaptation was certainly in no hurry – it took its time like it knew it had time to spare. But maybe the decision was made that there was no way to reasonably adapt the whole story in two cours anyway, so they might as well fully adapt a smaller chunk of it. That’s an odd approach to adapting a long-finished manga though, that’s for sure.
I guess it’s better to go out on a high, though that just makes the way this ended that much more frustrating. This was a very good episode indeed, especially if you’re a Vermilio fan. It’s a showdown between Anne and Helck and Rafeed, and the latter has a very specific plan in mind. He’s going to sic Alicia on Helck – not with any illusions that she can defeat him, but so that he’ll forced to kill her and finally succumb to despair. And in the process give himself over to rage and turn into a berserker, more or less neutralizing himself as a threat.
It’s kind of funny to head Rafeed selling himself to Vermilio as looking out for Helck and trying to give him peace. What a crock – this guy is as full of shit as any anime character this season. He claims to know Helck better than Vermilio (certainly longer), but he’s underselling the “gentle giant”. Among Helck’s many remarkable qualities is a seemingly limitless capacity for suffering – he can handle despair with the best of them without losing himself. And he’s prepared to do what it takes, even if Alicia is (as Rafeed suggests) “the woman he loves”.
Ironically Rafeed’s diatribe gives Vermilio a long-overdue flash of insight. She’s been rather selfish with Helck, really – though his eternal selflessness makes that easy. Helck may be on the demon side now, but he’s a human being. It’s not really fair to rely on him to save her kingdom by destroying everyone he ever loved. The alternative seems hopeless – to try and save people pretty much everyone is in agreement can’t be saved. But if Anne really is Helck’s friend – and I think we can say at this point she is – doesn’t he deserve her help in trying?
And there it ends, pretty much. A plan is hatched to head to Castle Shin and possibly reunite with Azudora, and the war continues, but for Helck it carries a new sense of purpose. There’s also an intriguing little nugget about Piwi not being a bird, which surely leads somewhere (and oddly, that green-haired messenger was very Piwi-like). I guess at this point we have to call this a read the manga ending (from Chapter 71, for the record) – more anime can’t be ruled out, but I certainly wouldn’t wait around for it. A shame, really – Helck is no masterpiece and the pacing has been pretty wonky, but the core premise and characters are very engaging. However unlikely it seems, I’d sure like to see the adaptation get the chance to finish telling its story.