Escaflowne is a series that appears to pride itself on its mysteries and cliffhangers. Each week, the faithful see their favorite characters reveal a little more of themselves, and in turn, a little more of Gaea. Last week, in episode 16, even the characters themselves were left with only questions. Hitomi wished only for the Mystic Valley to be revealed to everyone, while Van agonized over what his mother expected of him. Allen's thoughts were of a more cryptic nature: "I'll settle the matter with you in the Mystic Valley." Gaea quickly complied with each of these figures' plights, and the gate to the Valley opened.
As much as we might believe that last week's disclosure from Allen's father's journal has revealed a lot to us, it is nothing compared to the revelation that is to come. While not every secret was revealed to us, it was perhaps the most important episode of the series up to that point. Perhaps this is because it revealed mysteries to us that we weren't even aware existed.
Though this week's installment does reveal the answers to many of the riddles of Escaflowne, it is not for this reason that it is among my favorite episodes of any series. The cinematography is astounding. Few anime series apply the type of "camera" work that is used. Each shot is chosen with exacting detail and with a specific intention. The cool, blue tones that are cast over Allen as he attempts closure with the memory of his father heighten the feeling and speak of the director's skill. Similarly, Van is seen through much of the episode in a haze of sepia tones, as though he has indeed entered history -- with all its haze and washed-out color, lacking the vibrance that he shows upon his return.
Throughout the episode, I was riveted by the play of the otherworldliness of Hitomi and the others' visions. Some have felt that the use of CGI within Escaflowne is out of place. Tonight, I promise you that everything is in its proper place and that the techniques used mesh together beautifully. The "vision" of Escaflowne is definitely that of the director, and part of it is revealed to us this evening with absolute clarity.
Answers to secrets are all well and good, but we all know that there will still be more riddles to solve before we're done. In short, enjoy the revelation, and enjoy the view.