A week of absolutely sterling anime continues with this, the long-awaited (and feared) definitive depiction of the demise of Astrea Familia and Ryuu’s subsequent fall from grace. Jura and Rudra Familia, working under Evilus, did indeed set a trap for Astrea, but it didn’t work. However, detonating all of those bombs awakened the Juggernaut, which turned even a dream team like Astrea into mincemeat with sickening speed and efficiency.
It’s a tough, horrific watch, as it should be. And even if we haven’t spent nearly as much time with the various members of Astrea, all I needed to do was imagine if it were members of Hestia instead dropping one by one to understand the weight being placed on Ryuu by Alise to “live enough for everyone”. Alise trusts Ryuu to always “do the right thing”. Alise, Kaguya, and Lyra die, but they go out fighting in a literal blaze of glory.
The weight proves too much for Ryuu, and she is soon consumed with anger and hatred. She leaves the goddess Astrea (though is able to keep her blessing) and transforms into an angel of death, tearing through every Rudra Familia and Evilus stronghold, hideout and hovel and leaving no one alive in her path, like a merciless calamitous gale wind.
Once her twisted form of justice is finally complete when she finds, corners, and stabs the shit out of Jura (whom she only learns much later survived), Ryuu feels like an empty husk, hollowed out by all the hatred and murder. But when she collapses, it happens to be near the tavern where one Syr Flover works, and that’s all that’s needed to know that the gods aren’t done with Ryuu quite yet.
She’d go on to not only work with Syr and the other ladies at the tavern, but to swoop in and save the lives of Bell, Hestia, Welf, Lili, and everyone else, more times than Bell can count. She may have thought she was simply continuing her quest of vengeance, but to Bell, it meant she was his hero, plain and simple. He came back for her at the Coliseum because it’s what she’d do for him, and he won’t leave her behind because his justice is making it home alive with her.
Bell admits he didn’t know the “old Ryuu”, and that she may have made many a mistake in her past. All that matters to him is how many times he and his Familia would be dust without her. Without Ryuu even realizing it, the justice of her Familia lived on, and continues to live on.
When a Barbarian busts through the wall and Bell looks like he’s knocked out and about to be eaten, Ryuu desperately cries out his name, only for him to kill the monster and reveal he was playing possum, causing her to blush profusely.
The two eventually make it to a spring beneath the Coliseum, and they might just be the first two adventurers to make it there. When Bell collapses from exhaustion into the water, Ryuu gets in with him, cradles him, and heals him. Let those waters cleanse Ryuu of the hate, grief, regret and anguish she allowed to define her for so long, as well as the notion that she doesn’t deserve to live, or to love.
What happened to Astrea Familia was a abject tragedy. But it wasn’t her fault, and it was a blessing that she survived, because it meant she was alive to rescue Bell & Co. all those times. Now that they finally have a place to rest and heal, and the Xenos contingent aren’t far above them, it’s looking like both Bell and Ryuu are going to make it out of this. They won’t be the same people they were when they first fell down there…but that’s not a bad thing.