The series finally gets around to something resembling a mystery. Since, y’know, the fucking title is DETECTIVE OPERA Milky Holmes. With this episode effectively being the midpoint of the season, you’d think this might be a turning point. Maybe the girls will finally pull off a case and put themselves back on track to become real detectives, save their school, and regain their Toys.
Nope. Milky Holmes ain’t about triumphing over adversity. Milky Holmes is about failure.
The episode begins with the aftermath of the episode’s “mystery.” Everyone is in a slovenly, defeated state. People are either missing their clothing or wearing something out of character. Kokoro is in a catatonic state. One of her subordinates has a Facehugger latched onto her face. Motherfucking Duke Togo is standing in the background, the only one looking remotely triumphant because he’s fucking Golgo 13.
This isn’t the afterglow of a case closed– this is the stench of defeat. We don’t even get to see Milky Holmes try before we see them fail. At this point, their failure is a given. Failure is their natural state of being. God wants to see Milky Holmes wallow in despair.
The actual gags in this episode are pretty great, but the crux of it all is that the mid-season turning point is having the girls lose before they even get a chance to win. And to make matters worse, once everything’s said and done, it turns out that Milky Holmes is the true culprit. While it was some obsessive fanboy who set up the bomb, it was Sherlock who accidentally set it off. Not only did they fail to reveal the criminal (he turned himself in), they managed to turn that victory into an even worse defeat.
Milky Holmes suck, and that’s why they rock.
The way I see it, the villains in this series are audience surrogates. But they aren’t us watching Milky Holmes, they’re us watching anime as a whole. They don’t mind Milky Holmes being all cute and shit, but they want them to stay on target. Arsène especially wants the girls to return to their former detective glory in order for her to have a true rival. Milky Holmes at full strength is the only opponent that makes her blood boil, much in the same way that so many of us anime watching nerds need a series to go full-out and not hold back to really capture our imagination.
But the Milky Holmes girls aren’t doing that. Despite what they say, the girls don’t even want to be detectives. They’re easily distracted by food and trinkets and giving meaningless messages about friendship and hope. Like I’ve said before, the Milky Holmes girls are a reflection of moe tropes, and the way they drift away from their initial purpose (being badass detectives) is wearing away at the Gentlemen Thieves.
But with this episode, Arsène snaps. She can’t take this shit anymore. She’s done everything she can to help the girls in her own way, and all they do is turn right back around and do the exact opposite of what should be done.
There’s no hope left for Arsène. She’s beyond the point where she wants to see things fixed. This whole series– and thus anime as a whole– is beyond redemption. She’s no longer the God who “works in mysterious ways,” doing odd things to bring about good in Milky Holmes’ lives. She’s the angry god Samuel L Jackson rants about in Pulp Fiction. She’s the fucking Joker in The Dark Knight. Arsène’s going to destroy everything.
The resulting battle is a thing of beauty. It’s one of those escalating battles where things start off relatively mundane and reaches near-cosmic heights. Characters pull out attacks and tricks that you’ve never seen them do but make perfect sense given the context. It’s the sort of escalation we saw in Gurren Lagann, except it all happens over the course of a single episode rather than 27.
And in the end, Arsène wins. She defeats Milky Holmes. She defeats the police. She defeats her former allies. She destroys the school with a magical punch that looms over earth like fucking Galactus. And then she walks away– triumphant yet defeated, because she knows that even this assault won’t bring Milky Holmes back to their former glory– just like how we know there’s no turning back from the malaise that is current anime trends.
OK. I kinda wish this episode didn’t exist. I would have been perfectly happy with episode seven being the series finale. End it right there and it nails all of my thoughts about the series. That episode would have gone down as one of my all-time favorite finales.
Instead, we get an episode that manages to crush Milky Holmes harder than the assault in the previous episode.
All of the students receive transfers to other schools all across the globe. Everyone except for Milky Holmes. They get jack shit– a blank letter mocking their state of affairs. And they descend into madness. Cordelia’s Toys come back, but only at the moment of her greatest despair. The only way any of them are able to regain their Toys at this point in time is by reaching rock bottom. These girls are incapable of becoming true heroes again because heroism is no longer a motivation. And when Cordelia’s Toys come back, she’s only able to use them to create an illusionary world where the girls and the thieves are able to molest a camel in place of their beloved Henriette/Arsène.
Yeah. Everyone’s been reduced to borderline bestiality because of their failures.
Everything sorta resolves in the end. Their cat, the only character in the series who seems to have something resembling common sense (other than Arsene, and she lost that last episode), is able to snap everyone out of Cordelia’s illusion, but where do they go from here? They may have resolved to rebuild the school, but can we really trust the girls to do this? Do we really believe that they can triumph when they’ve failed every fucking time?
And what’s this? Moriarty finally appeared? Like, out of nowhere? And Milky Holmes just acknowledge her as if she’s been there all along? That little bit of dream logic was awesome. Maybe all of this is just some fever dream? Maybe the girls are huddled together, still raping that camel and sharing in Cordelia’s delusion? Maybe they’ve descended so far into madness that they’re creating a new mental world where they’re able to live out their victory?
If Milky Holmes manages to “win” in the end, that’s the logic I’ll be following based on how this episode ends. It’s kinda like the ending to Observe and Protect. Seth Rogan’s character in that movie was a mentally unbalanced dude who failed at everything he did, but the last five minutes or so show all of his dreams coming true. He kills the flasher that’s been plaguing him the whole movie. He gets the girl. He gets all of the praise he always wanted. But right before all of this takes place, his mom gives him a new pill and she takes it as well. Way I saw things, she was putting her son down and taking herself with him. Murder-Suicide. That ending was Rogan’s character’s final dreams as he lay dying.
And yeah, if we get a happy ending in Milky Holmes, I’m making the call now. It’s all an illusion created by Cordelia’s Toys to allow Milky Holmes to avoid the utter failure that is their lives.
Damn, I love Milky Holmes.