The Eminence in Shadow – 18 – Absolute Confidence

As her forced smile at his front door suggested, Claire is not here on a friendly visit. She’s there to choke Cid out on his bed for breaking every one of his promises thus far to hang out with her. She presents an extremely exclusive box ticket to the Bushin Festival, and he’d better be there to watch her fight and win, or he’s a dead little brother.

The ticket gives Cid access to a section where only royalty and nobles sit, including Princess Iris, who is seated right next to him. Cid has succeeded thus far as a background character insomuch as Iris only knows him because he’s Claire’s brother, and Alexia’s friend (though Cid disputes that label). Iris’ lickspittles also look down on Cid as an unexceptional irrelevancy just how he likes it!

While heading to the dressing room for his next match, Cid once again encounters the ethereal Lady Beatrix, who like him has a MgRonald bag. Unlike him, it’s filled with burgers, not his Mundane Mann disguise. While she’s apparently here to find her niece (i.e. Alpha), she’s also powerful wild card in a tinderbox of conflicting political interests.

Speaking of which, Perv Asshat helps himself to Cid’s seat while he’s gone, and Hayami Show does his usual good work making even idle chitchat sound incredibly menacing. When he asks who Iris thinks will win the next match: Annerose or Mundane Mann, she gives Mann one thing: his eyes have the look of absolute confidence, like he sees the path of total victory.

Obviously, we knew Cid was going to mop the floor with Annerose, it was just a matter of how he’d do it and how fast. She actually hangs in there longer than any previous opponent, even with his weighted armguards off. She tries to beat his speed with hers, but finds out his speed is far greater than she imagined. When she tries to get him to charge her so she can counterattack, he simply counters her counter.

After that barnburner of a fight, Iris excuses herself from Perv’s charming presence in order to prepare for her match. Perv tells his attendant to find out everything he can about Mundane Mann, since could well represent an unchecked and troublesome threat to his (and Diabolos’) plans for world domination. Ironically, he rules out Mann’s possible affiliation with Shadow Garden, siting its all-female composition and the lack of any motive for Garden to intervene at the Festival.

This reasoning fails to take into the account that while the Garden may not have any reason to participate, its leader does, since it’s his opportunity to be a more public Eminence in Shadow, and show off moves Lord Shadow never would (since he’s in the shadows). But as Mundane Mann he’s snagged one more admirer in Annerose, who accepts her defeat and thanks him for showing her heights she never knew, which she will now aspire to attain herself.

If Annerose has any other designs on Mr. Mann, she’ll have to get in line. Now that she’s cured of the Curse, Rose prepares to do what must be done to save her kingdom and her people from Asshat’s treachery. She still holds the wrapper of the MgRonald burger Cid gave her as a token of what she now knows to be a doomed love and impossible future with him.

With just two episodes remaining, and Rose, Iris, Beatrix, and however many of the Shades show up later in play, the Bushin Festival final is sure to be one for the ages. I just hope that Perv Asshat is put in his place, the poor king is freed from his mind prison, and Mundane Mann shows Iris what true strength is before peace-ing out!

Rating: 4/5 Stars

DanMachi IV – 16 – What Must Be Done

After another Astrea Familia flashback where Alise sparks a spirited discussion of what justice is, we’re back in the White Palace with Bell and Ryuu, who has recovered enough magic to heal her leg. In a similar argument she had with her late colleague Kaguya, she agrees to disagree with Bell on whether it would have been better to heal him.

I’m with Bell: Ryuu needed to be able to at least walk on her own for them to survive. As for Welf, he gets started, but after taking the adamantine out of his portable forge, he finds he can’t shape it. He wonders if he’s simply overestimated his ability to forge a sword in the Dungeon while his comrades battle desperately to keep the hordes of monsters at bay.

If Ryuu and Bell are to get to the 36th floor, they’ll need supplies and some kind of direction. They get both, by doing something neither of them want to do: looting the dead adventurers around them. Ryuu ensures she has top coverage, and they find potions, weapons, and a partial map scrawled on the dead’s familia banner. Bell vows to survive in order to honor the memory of those who died to save him and Ryuu.

Welf finally snaps out of his funk and the sound of his hammer makes a much louder, brighter sound—all because he remembered that he was making this sword for his friends. I’m a little surprised he didn’t know that all along…but whatever! He completes the sword, and with an extra magic assist from Cassandra, they manage to blast away all the monsters bothering them—with the very “light of daybreak” from Cassie’s vision.

With his new shatterproof magic sword, forged to last a lifetime, Welf has given the party a new lease on life as they continue their descent to find Bell and Ryuu. He gives the lives that were given to him right back to their owners. They still have a long way to go, but like Bell and Ryuu, they at least have the tools to do so—acquired by doing what had to be done, not matter what.

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