With the last five episodes, the final volume oversees a conflict between Arc Aile (the morally questionable Edel Raid Protection Agency) and the Chaos Choir – who are more closely affiliated, though not to say exactly how, with the Edel Gardens, and, supposedly, with the interests of Edel Raids and the Shichiko Hoju, than we might have thought, prior to the revelations at the end of the last volume.
As an inversion of the moral contentions of the past, but not the points they actually raised, the Edel Raids of the Chaos Choir and the Edel Gardens begin to use humans as Pleasures (by turning them into Sting Raids) for personal gain, with a sacrificial motif. This is seen immediately by Arc Aile and the others fighting against them to be as, but, strictly, only, as bad, as the way in which humans have exploited the Edel Raids of Guardia as tools. Now past this, however, both sides are drawn to fight as if by necessity, objectifying and vilifying their enemies – each other – and war between them ensuing, with the general tone and outline of a war between all humans, and all Edel Raids.
Meanwhile, Ren is confused by the Chaos Choir’s offer to protect her as their queen, and all Edel Raids, while Cisqua returns to the headquarters of Arc Aile in the hope of convincing them to stop the war, in the belief that Cou and Ren might be able to revive the beneficent power of union between the Pleasures and Edel Raids of ancient times. In the midst of this, old acquaintances are called or dragged into battle, with everyone facing a personal struggle over what best to do next. In this spirit, to bring about the end of the war as quickly as possible, Ren also succumbs to the manipulations of the Chaos Choir, leaving Cou and the others to plan her rescue, and the end of the war in the same stroke.
Morality isn’t Elemental Gelade’s strong point, with a fairly naïve, and, over and above the Reactions being figurative of relationships with others, barely symbolic undertone. So the morality of the series amounts to almost nothing, but has some emotional, rather than philosophical affect, especially toward the end. That in mind, being mostly just a simple, heroic adventure, the story and characters become the centre of attention, with the main cast being as welcome, but frequently two dimensional, as ever, and the story giving a fair, but somewhat draining attempt to bring itself to an end.
The last episode has to be singled out though, for being so unlike the rest. The animation is significantly better, fluid and impressive, putting even many anime films to shame. Effectively, the series could have been cut short, and ended with a film, and it would have been quite similar to what we see in the final episode, with an extended fight scene between the monarch Ren, after she Reacts with the commanders of the Chaos Choir, Cou, Cisqua, Rowan and Kuea. Albeit that the series would have been largely the same, slowly improved in this respect as time went on, and it should have stopped being a problem quite some time ago for anyone enjoying the series, there’s no denying that it could have benefited from animation like this all the way through. The sudden change is more surprising, than anything else, and I’m glad that, for me at least, it didn’t harm the series in any significant way, but with the narrative being squeezed out by the action of the cinematic first half, this episode is roughly as good as the rest of the series, as opposed to better.
Still, this last volume is longer and more diverse – if a little more sombre, tiring, and too prosaically joyous at the end – than what viewers will have seen so far, and there’s a nice little epilogue of sorts that takes the form of the second half of the last episode, which brings the story full circle, but sees a more human Ren take the final note. Fans of the story and characters will, as such, find this volume crucial, but for everyone else, it should only really captivate those who took to the series earlier on.
A volume that succeeds as an ending to the series, and provides a cinematic showcase for anyone who belied its animation, but one which is only moderately raised over the earliest volumes. In retrospect, Elemental Gelade has been an enjoyable, if light and unorignal series.