You have no idea.
Spoilers for weird things below.
This climax was very anime. Not in a bad way, I like it when anime feels like “anime,” and even when anime feels “anime”, it’s still drawing influence from plenty of other things. Folklore, mythology, current mainstream trends, American animation, weird Internet things. Which is why, though the majority of this episode takes place inside a singular musical performance, it feels like it could’ve come from a magical girl show more like Symphogear than the show it supposedly is. But I’m getting ahead of myself. There’s a fair bit to unpack here.
The beginning of the episode has most of the hijinks, with everyone getting pumped for the year’s big performance, the rematch between Friendol and the CelePara Troupe, now with Leona and Mikan switching sides. On another note, speaking of Troupes, I’ve begun watching Sakura Wars and realized that Maria Tachibana, the Russian gunslinger, shares her voice with Principal Gloria, whose role has kinda significantly decreased this season. Still, she can sing if given the chance to. Hopefully that can be used in the third season, assuming the cast isn’t too large.
The highlight of this episode, before the other highlight, is a montage song featuring the entire main cast. Instead of going through various movie homages, it’s an international song, with Friendol adopting a set of drive-themed outfits, complete with wheels on the back. (SP-SP-SPEED! FULL THROTTLE!) and the Troupe going for a set of jet-themed outfits. The outfits, since they’re switched out nearly every time the idols perform, aren’t as important to me as the songs themselves, but I can appreciate clever design sense when I see it.
Fuwari and Ajimi watch on the sidelines. Fuwari, in the guise of Phantom Thief Natural, having used the beauty of her homeland as a reason to convince Falulu that maybe going right for making your body into a digital construct isn’t the wisest idea. The song itself is pretty cool, if a bit stereotypical in its music choices for the various regions. That shot of Mirei performing in the aurora is lovely, though.
That’s when things get weird. Ringing the bell has always just been something that happened, rarely having much consequence until it changed the system. But now, it turns into a bonkers extended aerial battle race as everyone competes to be the first one there. Shion and Hibiki even get into a swordfight in midair. And considering that everyone’s watching this on a projection back in the arena, the cast having clearly left a long time ago, it all feels very… spiritual? Ephemeral? Symbolic? When I said it was “anime”, that’s the kind of feeling I’m trying to go for. Anime likes having larger than life battles with major suits of armor or glowing powers, but when they’re not being presented as “badass”, as they are in this case, they take on a strange transcendent air to them. As though the idol world is merely a conduit for the heavens themselves. I mean, Hibiki and Lala end up fighting until they reached the edge of the atmosphere.
Then there’s the power levels. Yes, idol power levels. Hibiki (and Falulu) level up to platinum fairy wings, but then Lala, with everyone’s assistance, goes into rainbow. The platinum level wasn’t even introduced until this episode, and has a bit of a “This isn’t even my final form!” feeling to it, but it certainly raised the stakes. Friendol won, Meganii got his glasses back, all’s well that ends well, right?
This episode did achieve its emotional climax well, even with all the weirdness. Everything from the point when Hibiki entered, except maybe Ajimi and Galulu, came into play, the new song was fun, and it even had some action(?). But it wouldn’t be PriPara unless it threw a few more twists at us. Like a collapsing castle.
It’s the Idolpocalypse. In the ruins of the city-state of idols, a group of survivors seek out the promised land where they once lived. This is Tension Max: Fairy Road.