In this episode we follow another Key Holder and Reading Princess through the British countryside, Hal Kamhout and Flamberge, who as they pass through a town meet a young policewoman named Mabel who despite being surprised by the straitjacket worn by Flamberge still offers to let them stay at her house until the next travelling salesman arrives.
It also turns out that the two of them are searching for a man and a girl with a strange lock on her, but in the mean time Mabel leads them to the local pub where she appears to be quite popular and as Hal looks around he notices that there are more brothels than usual in this town. And while Flamberge uses it as an excuse to tease him, promptly being shut down as junk, Mabel explains that the town prospered during the war through the production of weapons, however since then travellers have been disappearing.
As the sun begins to set Mabel leads them to her grandparents’ house where she lives with them and her younger sister Patty, who despite not being all that friendly to them approaches Flamberge when Hal heads out to investigate. During this he finds a town in ruins in a sealed off area and is attacked when he meets a woman who’s revealed to be a doll, the reason for the disappearances as he uses his Baritsu to dismantle her. And when he returns he learns from Patty that this isn’t the first time something like that had happened and decides to take action, heading to the factory which instead of assembling weapons now uses knowledge from a Phantom Book to create dolls to replace the residents lost in the bombing that destroyed the town. In doing so confronting Mabel who confirms this and tells them of how when the town was almost wiped out she met a man and a girl who told her that what’s destroyed can simply be rebuilt, and gave her a Phantom Book to do it.
However Hal picks out the main flaw in her way of ‘protecting’ the town, that towns change with time and with what she’s doing she’s only protecting its ghost. Aside from that he also explains why travellers have been disappearing but Mabel isn’t prepared to just give up and puts them against the dolls. So to deal with this Hal takes his key and reaches into a torn Flamberge to pull out a Phantom Book, but instead of reading it he uses it as ammunition for his staff, having accepted that as a Libricide Officer that these very flames will destroy him someday. And so in the end Hal and Flamberge return to Patty with Mabel, having erased her memories after she received the Phantom Book and disabling all the dolls before heading off into the sunset.
Even though we didn’t get to see Huey and Dalian in this episode I must say that this change was kind of refreshing, presenting us with another Key Holder and Reading Princess with completely different personalities, interactions, and goals. At the same time looking as if they could be the antagonists alongside this pair.
But first off it easily goes without saying that the way that Hal and Flamberge interacted in comparison to Huey and Dalian was one of the best things about this episode, probably being what made it so refreshing. In contrast to Dalian’s sharp tongue, sweet tooth, and adorable antics, Flamberge the Silver Reading Princess has a somewhat baiting/trolling personality, taking it upon herself to try and get a reaction out of Hal when she can. That aside Hal is also quite different as well, Huey may be kindhearted, lenient in regards to Dalian, and badass but to put it simply Hal is blunt. He doesn’t tolerate Flamberge’s attempts to get a reaction out of him and he gets straight to the point. Next to that Flamberge also happens to be voiced by Ami Koshimizu using a somewhat sadistic sounding voice (similar to the way she voiced the battle hungry Mugino in the Index PSP game), and I’m curious of how her fallen library differs from Dalian’s and just why she wears a straitjacket.
Alongside these two new characters I’m also interested in their motives, Hal is something known as a Libricide Officer and from what we saw he had no problems with burning a Phantom Book, his objective being not to retrieve one but destroy it instead. Suggesting that his order’s goal is to destroy every Phantom Book in existence, which is interesting because at just about every instance a reveal of sorts was made about a Phantom Book in one of Huey and Dalian’s stories, there was always a mention of how the forbidden knowledge inside shouldn’t even exist. So putting aside the issue of moral, religious, or political objections/censorship usually associated with book burning, their goal could be to regulate (in this case more along the lines of eradicate) these so called forbidden texts.
Finally I also thought the story was slightly better as well, when Hal and Flamberge first arrived there really wasn’t much that was noticeably odd about the town aside from a few disappearances, and I wasn’t immediately convinced that there was anything unusual to Mabel (which was probably helped by Aya Endou) at first either. I just thought that she was your usual friendly and helpful policewoman who was kind enough to put a roof over the heads of two travellers she had only just met. But as the episode progressed it became apparent that something was wrong, there was an unusual eerie feeling to it all that something just wasn’t right. And as if to answer this it turns out that Mabel wasn’t quite as innocent either, her intentions may have been good but just as always they were undeniably flawed. It was through her that we were also introduced to two more possible antagonists as well, another Key Holder known as the Professor and the Red Reading Princess Rasiel, who from what we can assume have been going about handing out Phantom Books to those who they believed needed them. Possibly linking any stories regarding any Phantom Books Huey and Dalian retrieve or that Hal and Flamberge destroy.