Content Warning: The Heike Story Episode 11 contains a scene depicting suicide.
The Heike Story is an adventure/drama anime inspired by a 12th-century epic story produced by Science SARU. With the Genji forces catching up to the Heike Clan at sea, a pitched battle ensues on the water. With both forces fighting bravely, who will the fates favor this day? And should the Heike’s forces fail, what will that mean for the Emperor, Biwa, and Tokuko?
From the first time Biwa covered her eye and gazed upon Shigemori, the tragedy of The Heike Story was revealed to us watching as clearly as it was to Biwa. However, what I was not prepared for was the form that the final defeat of the Heike would take. There is a calmness throughout the clan’s final moments that feels unnatural. Where I expected the struggle to last until the final gasp of breath, instead, it is far more peaceful than that. That The Heike Story Episode 11 sees the Heike off gently into that good night leaves me with a mixture of emotions I don’t know how to express properly.
Anyone familiar with Japanese culture can guess what fate awaits many of the Hieke’s final members, though to the extent that some take these final actions surprised me. Nevertheless, the quiet acceptance of the final choices many of the clan make would feel dignified if the actions taken weren’t so fundamentally wrong to me.
As one would expect, the zenith of The Heike Story Episode 11‘s tragedy comes with Biwa’s playing of her namesake instrument one last time as she sings of the event. This final implementation of this series’ highlight of recurring visual/musical elements works to emphasize the moment’s weight. The tragic sadness and peaceful acceptance of the moment create the feeling that the viewer is sitting with Biwa as she relays the story of the Heike to them. It gives the moment a more personal quality. You aren’t just learning of the tragedy. You are learning of it from someone who witnessed it. Someone who, over time, has become a familiar figure, making the pain of the moment not just belonging to those who suffered, but also to Biwa, who bears it going forward as she tells others, including the viewer, of the Heike Clan’s fall.
Even though the opening half of The Heike Story Episode 11 depicts an epic sea clash involving thousands of soldiers, the series continues to focus on the drama and turmoil of its participants rather than blood and action. I am immensely thankful that the series adhered to its focus on these things. The gravity of the entire episode ties together with the pain and struggle culminating throughout the back half of the series perfectly.
When all is said and done, The Heike Story Episode 11 delivers an emotional ending to its tale. While the final moments of the Hieke are painful to watch, it leaves the viewer with a lot to think about and many feelings to sort out.
The Heike Story Episode 11 is streaming on Funimation.
The Heike Story Episode 11
The Heike Story Episode 11 delivers an emotional ending to its tale. While the final moments of the Hieke are painful to watch, it leaves the viewer with a lot to think about and many feelings to sort out.