Babylon was a thriller mystery show, and for 7 episodes, it was by far the most interesting and intense anime of its season, and to me, 2019. It kept me on edge every episode with a new twist. The simple yet effective and sleek art style, interesting characters, unique yet catchy soundtrack, and the rare adult-oriented crime investigation plot managed to develop a following even within the western anime community, and I was definitely one of its biggest fans.
After its first half ending at 7 episodes, Babylon took a break, before heading into its second half, involving more politics and the story beginning to spread at a global scale. Unfortunately, it is in the last 5 episodes that Bablyon disappoints. Not only are the writers clearly out of their comfort zone, but the show begins to focus on what were its weak points in the first half. The last episodes are boring if not funnily bad, and in the last episode it presents a weak and uninspired ending.
Although I really did like the first half of the series, if I had to choose a part of it that didn’t hold up as much as the rest, it would indefinitely be the politics. There’s a debate that goes on between Itsuki Kaika and Japan’s representatives, and the points that are presented by the politicians are the most basic, unsophisticated, undeveloped arguments that even a group of middle schoolers could come up with. It’s definitely not a debate that you’d be expecting on something as important as it is, and it shows the lack of competence for the writers in this subject. But it isn’t terrible, and it frankly doesn’t bore you enough for it to stand out or drag the show down. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the last 5 episodes.
Babylon’s second half focuses on how Japan’s adaptation of the suicide law begins to affect the rest of the world. But man, is it unrealistic. Not only are there already places in the world that already have adapted the suicide law, but there is no way that the leaders that aren’t under Magase Ai’s control would act the way that they did. Practically all of episode 11 shows the leaders of the world come together to discuss what “good” is, and it’s visually presented as a very deep, intelligent, mind blowing conversation, but it couldn’t be further from that. If what was being discussed was at least thought provoking, then the visuals could have been justified, but from how shallow it is, the episode is nothing but embarrassing.
By emphasizing on the political side of the show, Babylon loses its best qualities. The (good)edginess, and amazing moments with Magase Ai. Although she does play an important part in the plot overall, and has some appearances, her impact on each episode and the occasional amazing twists that she brought are completely gone.
There’s still more I can complain and rant about, but honestly this post is getting a little long, and I want to talk about the ending, so let’s do that.
I can’t express in words how underwhelming this ending felt. Although Magase Ai did feel untouchable for a while, I thought that in the end she would be taken over(and most likely killed) by Seizaki. But instead, Seizaki dies and Magase lives on. Now I’m not one to really complain much about who the author decides to kill and spare, and what they want their work’s message to be, but to be frank, I’m fucking pissed and am going to complain.
Essentially, the president of the United States is hypnotized by Magase and is about to kill himself in public. If he succeeds in doing so, then the general public will believe that suicide is good. In order to prevent this, Seizaki kills the president himself, and kills himself. At least what I interpreted from this, was that Seizaki killed himself because he basically became a public embodiment of evil, and by committing suicide he brings down the act of killing oneself to his level. He also has an encounter with Magase before he kills himself, but that’s heavily implied to be a hallucination, although I think Seizaki may have been acting in order to make himself look as worst as possible before killing himself.
But was there really a need for Seizaki to kill himself? To me, it feels rushed. Like this had to be the finale, and so Seizaki had to make a move that would end everything and represent suicide badly. But frankly, there really wasn’t a need to do that. I mean, Seizaki had yet to kill or at least arrest Magase, and in the end she’s fucking alive and well! In my opinion there’s no way that Seizaki would kill himself there, he had strong beliefs and willpower to be able to overcome the situation of assassinating the president, and continue on with his investigation. After all, the situation probably would have been understood by all of the higher-ups. It definitely wouldn’t have been clean, but with faking punishments and various complicated processes, I feel like Seizaki continuing on his life and the investigation would have been more than possible. But instead, Babylon tries to have a clean cut ending with Seizaki killing himself, and it feels lazy, unnecessary, and unsatisfying.
The concept of the ending isn’t terrible, and the execution isn’t too bad either. But it’s just so…. Lukewarm. Even if you disagree with my ‘could be’s for Babylon, I think that most can agree on how lacking the ending felt. The anticlimactic finale of Babylon, to me, fully represents the disappointing second half of the season.
Babylon was a disappointment. To me, it had more than enough potential to become the best anime of 2019, and yet even after taking a break, it managed to fuck up so badly that it went from a strong 9 to a weak 7 by the end of its run. I’m upset, depressed, and angry.
There’s still things that I want to talk about, especially why the show got ruined, namely the fact that the second half is literally written by a different person. But this post has gotten way too long, and I’m tired.
I’m curious as to what others think about the second half, especially the people that enjoyed it, unlike me. So please, feel free to leave a comment on what you thought about Babylon and its second half.