Welcome all, to The Big O’s grand finale! This week was… The episodes were… This was a god damn trip alright. Even as I write this I’m not sure what happened, or even how I feel about it! So lets take a ride, working our way through the episodes together as I try to figure out exactly what I just watched.
First up is episode 25, “The War of the Paradigm City”. So much happened this episode, there were so many reveals, that I can’t even begin to try and hide them behind a break. So instead let’s just jump right in with the spoilers and start with what I think is the biggest twist of the episode: It’s all a god damn dome. The entire city, neigh the entire known setting of the show, is inside a dome. Or maybe it’s meant to be a sound stage or something, I don’t know. Point is, the sky is fake, stage lights are hanging from the ceiling, their world isn’t real. And of course leave it to Schwarzwald to be the one to discover it in his final moments possessing Big Duo. This is it. This is the final truth he was looking for the entire time, and its fucking everyone up.
Take Alex for instance. He has absolutely no idea how to process this, how to process that his entire world is fake. More than that, who he believed he was is fake. Alex’s entire identity, across Big O’s entire runtime, has been that his Gordon Rosewater’s true son. That he deserves to inherit this world, to be a God. And he would do anything to ensure that, from ordering the murders of “tomatoes” before they ripen to killing his own father to prove he can replace him. Yet here he learns that the world he wanted to rule is fake, that he’s just another unripe tomato, the same he accused Roger of being. It’s a really great way to build up a character defined entirely by their past, by who they think they were meant to be rather than who they wanted to be.
Contrast this with Roger. Everything he is, everything that defines him, is based on who he wants to be. Even when he was struggling with whether or not he was a tomato, with the very same determinism that Alex built himself off of, he still pushed back against it and defined himself by what he could and did do. So it’s fitting to learn that, out of anyone else in Big O’s cast, Roger is the only true “equal” Gordon has. He was there at the start of it all, he erased his memories willingly so they wouldn’t tie him down, he was tasked to negotiate with God as to the state of the world. Just as Alex represents the deterministic philosophy, Roger embodies Indeterminism and, effectively, the very foundation of free will. Were you expecting Big O to dive into one of the oldest philosophical arguments? Because I wasn’t.
As for the rest of the cast, Angel is the only one with anything meaningful going on. Her bit doubles down on Big O’s whole “Stage show” metaphor, with the house and Vera and even Gordon, who apparently isn’t dead, showing up to talk about who is what. The long and short of it is that apparently Vera is a tomato, the Union were the leftovers from when Gordon and Roger built Paradigm City (Still weird how Roger doesn’t age) and Angel is a memory given human form. Yes you read that last one correctly, Angel isn’t a person but rather a memory. There’s some quibbling over what that means exactly. Are humans memories since only memories found within people real? But then Roger’s entire shtick is that you need not be who you were, it doesn’t matter just focus on who you will be. It’s kind of… jumbled.
Unsurprisingly, this is also the roughest Big O has it with the finale. Not just in presentation, which gets trippy, but also in content. To lay it out there, I’m not sure I like Angel effectively being God in human form. Skipping ahead to the next episode a bit, she transforms into Big Venus, which is basically God in robot form? This explains why the Bigs are how they are, they were modeled after God in an attempt to replicate or steal some of that power. But how Angel got this way, a young woman working with the Union and falling for Roger, still doesn’t make a lot of sense. Was this part of Roger’s negotiation before the series started? Some kind of bet for God to live among them? I’m really not sure, and it sort of comes out of nowhere compared to everything else in the episode.
This leads me to episode 26, our grand finale, “The Show Must Go On”. Off the bat? The final fight was great. I loved watching all of their various tricks and tools, how Roger used the chain things to pull himself up or Big Fau down into the ocean. The way the balance shifted back and forth, Roger is winning then losing, then everyone loses etc etc. Even how it involved Dastun and Dorothy, with the howitzers and air tank respectively, felt good. It was a suitably grand final fight between the last two Bigs. It helped that a lot of the dialogue during it all was great too of course. Dorothy’s exchange with Roger, the mouth-to-mouth and air pressure joke in particular, especially stood out to me. Simply put, as far as final confrontations go, I was satisfied.
Getting into the details a bit, the part that stood out to me the most was how each Dominus interacted with their Big. How Alex had to constantly fight off Big Fau to stop it from consuming him the same way Big Duo did Gabriel. Roger meanwhile had to actively work to convince Big O to do the same to him, to merge into one being so that they could fight Alex head on. All the while Big O seemed to refuse, preferring to fight together. While I’m disappointed Big O never went to deep into how the Bigs function, or what exactly they are, I did like this difference. Maybe we’re supposed to assume that the Bigs are, like Angel, memories or Gods in and of themselves, if only man-made ones. Whatever the case though, I wish we had gotten a bit more info there.
Speaking of Angel, I’m still not a big fan of.. all this. Of Angel transforming into God and Thanos snapping the world, of everything getting reset for another loop. I don’t like these kind of meta-endings on the best of days, and for Big O in particular this felt like it came out of nowhere. This makes a little sense as, from what I understand, Chiaki Konaka originally wanted another season. He had more ideas, more written, it could have easily gone for more. Knowing that, it definitely feels like this ending was rushed before it could properly setup and explore all of the concepts it wanted to. However while that is a sad story, and I do wish it had gotten a 3rd season, the ending we have… Well as far as definitive endings go I could be happier.
That isn’t to say it’s all bad. In a lot of ways this ending felt like Big O was trying to argue for its own existence. Like Angel was a TV Executive, a Producer, and the characters of Big O, Roger in particular, were begging her not to cancel them. That they deserve to continue, to live on. And that loop at the end isn’t another time loop or whatever, it’s the show starting again from episode 1. It’s you, the viewer, watching it again to keep the dream alive. Scenes like Angel watching the episode while the “actors” stand behind her seem to support this. In that sense I think it works, it’s a very meta argument along the lines of the Red Hood manga that tried to do the same a few years ago. Just like Red Hood though, Big O wasn’t able to cinch it I don’t think.
So yeah, all in all I’m pretty happy with this finale. The fights were great, the twists had my mouth agape at the sheer audacity of it all, and even when going for a weird meta argument Big O still managed to communicate something coherent. Is it perfect? No, I think it’s pretty clear the show wanted more time, that this isn’t the ending the staff envisioned. As is the fate of many anime productions though, it’s the one they had to make. Still, even with my issues surrounding the Thanos snap and Angel turning into God out of nowhere, my overall experience was positive and the more I write this post, the more I think on the episode, the more satisfied I feel. That sounds like a pretty decent ending in my book.
And with that we come to the end of another season of Throwback Thursday! Thanks for reading. The review should be out soon, hopefully this year if you’re lucky, early January if you aren’t. Blame Christmas, I promise I’m working hard back here I have a season and multiple other reviews to prep for god damnit. In the meantime, go ahead and vote on what we should watch next down below! I’ve added a few new ones so pick what you like. If something you wanted to see isn’t there leave a comment down below and I’ll add it to the next one if I haven’t already watched it. I’ll announce the results in the final review. Until then? Have a happy holidays!
The post The Big O – 25/26 [The War of the Paradigm City/The Show Must Go On] – Throwback Thursday appeared first on Star Crossed Anime.