With a look back into the past the episode opens in 1917 Norfolk England, where Armand alerts his captain who has a penchant for writing poems, Ilas to a surprising new recruit. And when this new recruit later meets Ilas he declares that he’s going to beat every one of his records.
Of course this new recruit happens to be Huey and after hearing one of his poems, one about him and his flying style, the two start out on a better note. Following this one year later in France though, Ilas as the Faceless Phantom takes to the skys and of all things shoots down his comrades while reading his poems, leading to a confrontation between him and Huey. And after this we’re shown a scene in a french bar where Ilas gets some information from the bartender, and tells him how he turns the voices on the battlefield into poems, meaning that if the war ends he won’t be able to write.
After which he has a nightmare of a fire and a girl in red, and when he wakes up this girl is before him, telling him that she’s interested in his poems as they have the potential to become something known as a Phantom Book. The creation process for such she explains requires powerful emotions that are strong enough to leave a mark, so it goes without saying that things like wars and tragedies spawn them easily. Finally the girl also introduces herself, the library Rasiel. And on the next morning Ilas heads out for the sortie, with it being suggested that he lost a loved one in a bombing and that when he was growing up he worked in a poor coal mining town, where the news of the Wright brother’s flight had been a ray of hope. The latter being something he had in common with Huey.
However it was on this sortie that he went mad and shot at everyhing in sight and to be confronted by Huey, being told that he had died in a bombing some time back and reasoning that he’s flying before being shot down. And so the Faceless Phantom crashes to the ground, and when he climbs out of the burning wreckage he finds himself face to face with Rasiel and the Professor, of all people the bartender. However with his poems reduced to ash they see no reason to keep him alive, revealing that they had used a Phantom Book to revive him. Alongside this they even suspect that Huey may be a keykeeper. And after all of this Huey burnt everything that tied him to Ilas including his poems, presenting Armand with his Victoria Cross before he went on learn of his grandfather’s death, inherit his estate, and meet Dalian.
I think this may be the best episode yet, undeniably one of the things that I was interested the most in was Huey’s past as a pilot during WWI and it nailed that. Showing what happened just before the first episode and how much that key must have meant to him before he knew what it was for. Also incorporating the way that Phantom Books come about and an appearance by Rasiel and the Professor in a bitter tale of two friends who were destined to be torn apart.
It may have started off well between them, but as the episode progressed it became glaringly obvious that Huey was going to have to shoot Ilas down, something made tragic by how despite their different backgrounds they became the best of friends. Bound by the common wish of just wanting to fly. Alongside that it wasn’t hard to feel sorry for Ilas (voiced by Sho Hayami) either, he started out looking like he was just going to be Huey’s mentor but gradually it was revealed that there was something deeper to his character, he was simply a troubled character, he not only had a harsh upbringing but had also dealt with loss as well. But most of all there was also part of him that wanted the war to keep going, against everything bad about it he just wanted to keep writing and flying.
As part of such it was also great to finally learn about just how Phantom Books come into existance, the origins even adding to the already questionable meaning in their existence. The part about strong emotions capable of leaving a mark on the world as the prime ingredient may not have been all that surprising, but just what it meant was interesting. While some of these emotions could have came from happy things a good part of them would have undeniably came from tragedies. Meaning that so many of them would have been produced by things like wars. Adding another reason for just why their very existance is questionable, a lot of pain and suffering is required to create even one Phantom Book. Let alone everything Ilas had to do to have something only capable of becoming one.
Finally the other thing that probably made this episode so good was the appearance made by Rasiel and the Professor, whose actions even after this still aren’t that clear. Before this they were shown to just be handing Phantom Books out, and in this episode to be actively manipulating things in an attempt to create a Phantom Book, effectively bringing Ilas back from the dead and keeping a close eye on him as he went about writing his poems. I’ll also admit that I was kind of surprised about him being the bartender as well. However from what the Professor it looks as if their goal is to simply observe, or to put it better experiment with what would happen in certain situations. Secondly to him, it was also interesting to see how far Rasiel (voiced by Sayuri Yahagi) contrasts with Dalian as well, instead of the English yes and no she uses the German ja and nein. It isn’t much but combined with her haughty behaviour character it makes her pretty fun one.