Vinland Saga S2 – 20 – Icelandic Pride

Fox is a pretty tough guy. He’s killed thirteen men. He enjoys it. But these Jomsvikings are just too much, man. They carve through the hands, limbs, and heads of the ragtag volunteer force like they’re carving through room temperature butter. Fox admires how long Badger can hang in there despite losing a hand. He wants to help his friend, but his legs fail him. Snake saves Badger and orders a retreat.

Ketil, whose delusions truly know no end, protests to the fleeing non-soldiers. When he plucks one of them by the scruff and says his debts won’t be paid if he flees, the man laughs in his face. Who cares about debts to Ketil? He’s finished! Now he’ll see what it’s like to be poor.

When Wulf reports that a man who looked like Ketil was cut down by a Jomsvikings, Canute is annoyed. He wanted Ketil captured, and he ordered the soldiers not to pursue the enemy if they ran. He can’t even make little improvements in the rules of engagement, because utter mayhem is too ingrained in these warriors.

It certainly is in Thorgil, who is a pure, dyed-in-the-wool predator. Emerging from the ocean and leaping at Canute from behind, the king just manages to draw his sword and block Thorgil’s blow, but it destroys his sword and sprains his wrist. In the blink of an eye, Canute’s two guards are beheaded.

Thorgil isn’t just a typical King’s Guard. He’s one of the best. In fact, the only other one who is able to put up a fight is their commander, Wulf. He pierces Thorgil’s wrist with a thrown sword and tackles him to the ground protect his king.

As he chokes Thorgil, his eye is poked out, and Thorgil slips away before reinforcements arrive. It’s an ugly, bloody, brutal encounter between two seasoned killers, but it really doesn’t accomplish much of anything, except to put Canute more on guard.

Meanwhile, Arnheid hears the sounds of battle; the same sounds she heard when her village was attacked. It’s the sound of the world falling apart. Einar assures her the battle is of no concern to them: they’re free now, and they’re leaving the farm. Arnheid’s first question is where they’re going. Leif says they can go to his village.

Her second question is whether Leif’s land is free of slavery and war. Leif is honest: he can’t guarantee war won’t follow them there, but it’s a good place. Arnheid declines. Her husband, son, and unborn child are already waiting for her elsewhere. She asks why she should keep living in this hellish world full of war and slavery when she can go to them.

Einar is about to tell Arnheid he loves and needs her, but she closes her eyes and loses consciousness, apparently breathing her last. Thorfinn pushes Einar aside and tries chest compressions, to no avail. Arnheid is gone. May she rest in peace and be reunited with her family, and may her seiyu Sako Mayumi win every voice acting award there is this year.

Thorfinn lifts her head and tells her about a warm land far to the West where there is no war or suffering. He wanted to take both her and Einar there. These are the same words Thorfinn heard his father Thors say to a dying slave when he was just a young boy.

When the man who saw to it Arnheid would never make it there arrives on Snake’s back, Einar charges him with a full head of steam. Thorfinn holds him back, gets slugged in the face, then punches back, using violence, in this case, to keep Einar from committing violence.

Thorfinn knows all too well that killing Ketil won’t quell Einar’s rage. It only brings about a curse Thorfinn has only just begun to treat. He begs Einar not to fall down the same hole he did. Einar relents.

After Arnheid is buried on a beautiful bluff overlooking the ocean, Thorfinn walks off. Leif, who is preparing his ship for departure, wonders where he’s going and what he’s going to do. Thorfinn tells him: He’s going to go talk to Canute. Maybe there’s a way to convince him that enough blood has been spilt; that maybe there’s another way to get what he wants.

If the worst case scenario happens, Thorfinn is confident he’ll get out of it alive. He also tells Leif that the story he used to hear about how their people went to Iceland to flee war and slavery once bummed him out. He was a boy who couldn’t wait to fight; the prospect of his village avoiding fighting was lame.

But not anymore. Thorfinn isn’t a boy, and now he’s proud of his Icelandic progenitors. They had the right idea, and he’s going to try his best from now on to honor their deeds by following their path away from hate and blood and towards love and peace. But first things first: Canute’s men probably aren’t just going to give him an audience. He’ll have to take it.


Vinland Saga S2 – 19 – A Dark Wood

When Ketil rallies all able-bodied men on the farm, bribing them by releasing them from their debts should they join him, he has about 350 men. Not bad, but not nearly good enough against what’s coming. Snake knows this, and makes sure his men know it too. If Ketil orders them to fight, they’ll fight. But if they fight, they’ll lose.

Leif and Thorfinn’s reunion was overshadowed by Arnheid being nearly killed by Ketil, but now that they’re together again, Thorfinn says he can’t leave when Arnheid is in this condition. Leif smiles, and is happy to see that Thorfinn is wearing “a better look on his face.” He’s changed, for the better. He’ll stay one more day, so see if Arnheid awakens.

The next morning, Canute’s ships launch some arrows at the ragtag soldiers on the beach, forcing a retreat before landing and setting up camp with the sea at their back. Canute sends a messenger with terms, not wanting to needlessly stain such good land with blood.

Snake has no compunctions about the men who serve under him. They’re all free to flee as they choose, only he, as the commander, is not able to run. He’ll fight, even in a losing effort, and give it his all. When they mention that not only do they have Thorgil, but Iron Fist Ketil, Snake smirks.

“Iron Fist Ketil” was his teacher and big brother figure who taught him how to be a warrior. Eventually they went their separate ways, but when Snake heard Ketil had bought a farm, the Ketil he met was a totally different person. This Ketil is nothing but a master bullshitter.

Even so, Snake’s men don’t feel right letting him go off into battle on his own, so they take up their arms and armor and follow him to the beach.  Ketil may have begun to buy his own bullshit, because he thinks having more than a 3-to-1 edge in manpower matters.

It doesn’t, not when the 100 men are the Jomsvikings and the King’s Guard, any one of whom could probably kill 50-100 of Ketil’s amateurs. Thorgil, a former King’s Guard, knows this, and he takes Olmar aside for some strategizing.

With Ketil engaged with Canute’s soldiers on the beach, the rest of the farm is deserted. This allows Leif, “Thorfinn”, Thorfinn, and Einar to carefully load Arnheid onto a cart and escape. They go as slow as possible so as not to make Arnheid’s injuries worse. But if she stays, she dies, so they’re taking her.

As the cart inevitably hits some bumps, Arnheid experiences a dream. She’s on a cart in a dark, gloomy, spooky forest, but she has no worries. Both of her children are asleep in her arm and her lap, and Gardar is driving the cart.

Gardar tells her they’ve been through a lot, but soon they’ll be reunited and out of these dark woods. Arnheid smiles, then spots a deer and a wolf together in the forest, representing Einar and Thorfinn. She says that even though they’re leaving, others are surviving in this place.

Gardar tells Arnheid to say her goodbyes before they exit the forest and enter the hereafter. So she opens her eyes and is conscious again. Einar is overjoyed, but it’s reasonable to assume the joy won’t last long. Arnheid is too badly hurt and the closest thing to a doctor, Pater, is locked in battle. Even so, a goodbye is better than nothing.

As Snake and Thorgil predicted, Ketil’s ragtag “soldiers” are nothing but fodder for Canute’s professional battle-hardened men. But at least for Thorgil, they didn’t have to be anything more than a diversion, allowing him and Olmar to slip around the battle.

Olmar ends up on an entirely different part of the beach. He’s resigned to the fact he’ll never be his brother…and that’s probably a good thing, as trying would only put him in an early grave. As for Thorgil, well…he’s having an absolute blast doing whatever the fuck he wants, and has himself a pretty decent chance of killing Canute.

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – Swordsmith Village Arc – 06 – Fifth Wheel

So Genya didn’t suddenly turn into a mindless demon, he’s just…really jazzed up on rage? So much so that he’s drooling profusely? Genya is also determined to become a Hashira first by defeating an Upper Six. To his, Tanjirou, while being choked by Genya, bucks shounen hero conventions and says “Fine, whatever, become a Hashira! I’ll help you…just don’t slash my little sis!”

When the four emotion demons regenerate and the one with the leaf blows the smell of the hot spring’s sulpher away, Tanjirou can smell a fifth demon, one they’ll have to kill in order to truly defeat the others. As he and Nezuko fight the other four, Genya chases the fifth, who is tiny and quick as a Cactuar…and also strong enoguh that Genya’s blade snaps when he strikes him.

The episode is then paused with one of the bigger demon’s staffs inching closer to the back of Genya’s head, and Genya thinks of his incredibly tragic childhood, when his tiny mother became a demon and killed all of his and his brother’s siblings. When he saw his blood-covered brother standing over the dead corpse of their mom, he accused him of being a murderer.

Then we get a flashback within the flashback, which really is a bit much, to show what we’ve already been told: that after their dad was stabbed, they promised to protect the family. This was evident when they nodded without words before the brother went out to look for their mom, and a rare instance of showing and telling too much.

It’s repetitive storytelling, especially when we consider that our protagonist Tanjirou also had his whole family be killed save one sibling. Add to that some action sequences that aren’t quite as flashy as last weeks, the demons keep regenerating and have grown stale, Okamoto Nobuhiko’s tired shrill yelling shtick, and a complete lack of Mitsuri (and barely any Tokitou), and this was not Demon Slayer’s finest outing.

Vinland Saga S2 – 18 – Long Way Down


Content Warning: This episode of Vinland Saga contains an extremely disturbing scene of domestic violence. Extreme viewer discretion is advised.

King Canute is on the sea, headed to Ketil’s farm. Winds are favoring him so he may arrive in as soon as two days. If Ketil and his men submit, Canute will show them mercy, as he doesn’t wish to needlessly waste “assets”. But if they defy him, they’ll have none. His father’s head cackles in the shadows.

Ketil’s return home starts with a bit of slapstick, as Thorgil hucks the barrel containing his father at the retainers like he’s bowling. He then urges Olmar to come with him as they prepare for his first, and possibly their last battle. Olmar, it should be said, looks like he never wants to be anywhere near violence ever again.

Ketil comes out of that broken barrel a broken and spent husk of a man. Right now he is motivated by only one thing: the prospect of reuniting with his beloved Arnheid; of finding a small measure of comfort before Canute arrives and the pain begins.

Thorfinn and Einar are restrained at what passes for the farm’s fortress, which is in a sorry state of disrepair. Thorfinn apologizes for not being able to help Arnheid, but Einar is appreciative that Thorfinn broke his oath to help their friend.

Thorfinn still wishes a “first method” could have worked instead: one in which an issue is talked through, and violence is a last resort. You could say he did try to reason with Snake, but that consideration was outweighed by the death of five of Snake’s men.

When Ketil can’t find Arnheid in the usual spots, his wife tells him she’s tied up in the stable for trying to escape with her “old flame.” This news is the straw that breaks Ketil’s already strained back. When he arrives at the stable, a guard is rubbing her leg, telling her how things would go if the guests had a say in her punishment.

Ketil has a wooden staff in his hand, but it’s not for the guard, who he dismisses. He asks Arnheid if she tried to escape. Arnheid is his slave. She has no rights, no agency, and her life and the life of her child is in Ketil’s hands. There’s nothing she could say to him in this moment that would do her any good, so she remains silent.

Then the most gut-wrenching, brutal scenes in the entire series takes place. It’s so breathtakingly awful I had to mute my TV and only read the subtitles on the bottom of the screen with just a slight out-of-focus view of the rest. Suffice it to say, there’s no need to provide pictures of this scene.

As soon as Arnheid tried to escape and failed, that was it. As soon as Ketil learned she’d attempted to escape, that was it. He beats the everloving hell out of her, despite her telling him she’s carrying his child. He doesn’t believe her; he can’t anymore.

She’s only saved from death by Snake, who takes hold of Ketil’s staff and will only release it if Ketil completes the execution. Ketil lets go and stalks off. This is the absolute worst time in the world for Leif to ask Ketil about buying Arnheid from him in addition to Einar and taking Thorfinn.

Ketil tells Leif he’s keeping Arnheid, but he can do what he wishes with the other two. But Thorfinn and Leif’s reunion occurs off-camera with no fanfare. Thorfinn and Einar are allowed to see Arnheid, who is alive but unconscious. Pater, who did his best to tend to her wounds, doesn’t think she’ll make it.

As for Ketil, he’s now a different man than the one who flew out of that barrel. A worse man, if you were to ask me. An more evil man. He might not have done anything that anyone in his position and in this time period wouldn’t have done.

Or maybe this is who he was all along. After all, he bought and owned slaves. Every time he laid with Arnheid, it was rape, because she had no consent. The scene of her punishing her in the stable merely re-opened my eyes to the wickedness that had been hiding beneath the veneer of civility and kindness.

A battle is coming to Ketil’s farm. I don’t say this lightly, as someone who tries to live by Thorfinn’s newfound ideals of peace, but hopefully in the midst of that battle, someone will Ketil, fast or slow. It will mean there will be some justice for Arnheid. Because I’m done with Ketil.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – Swordsmith Village Arc – 05 – Pretty In Pink (and Red)

Tokitou and Kotetsu meet up with Kanamori, who has a new sword for the Hashira. He leads them to his work shed, but Tokitou stops him short: something’s amiss. Sure enough, that foreboding pot appears, and out of it spills Upper Moon Five Gyokko.

Meanwhile in the village center, Kanroji Mitsuri finally arrives to make her much-anticipated first appearance in battle. She’s immensely fast, nimble, and strong, and her pink sword is long and flexible like a whip or ribbon, enabling her to quickly carve through the attacking fish monsters.

Mitsuri not only earns style points for her beautiful “Love Breathing”, but also for maintaining a positive, upbeat attitude throughout the battle. She ends up rescuing the village chief Tecchin from the clutches of the fish monster boss, and the old man is in good enough shape to swoon over being held by a beautiful young lady.

Gyokko has a lot of tricks in his pots, including his “artwork”: a grotesque human sculpture composed of five other swordsmiths in their death throes. When he twists a blade, blood spills forth from their faces and limbs. It’s a terrifying display, and Tokitou is sick of it, so he attacks. But for his trouble he gets a face full of poison needles.

Tanjirou comes to in Nezuko’s arms. She woke up before him and is buying time by running, but once Hantengu levels the entire building, she grabs hold of Tanjirou’s sword with her bare hands and doesn’t let go until it’s set aflame by her burning blood and turns red.

Tanjirou’s head scar morphs into a flame pattern—the same one that was on the head of Tsugikuni Yoriichi—and the three Hantengu clones recognize Tsugikuni in Tanjirou’s stance. He puts everything he’s got—and feels the hands of everyone who has helped him get this far on his back—and delivers a Hinokami Kagura strike that takes the form of a fire dragon, beheading all three clones at once.

Tanjirou appears to be in luck, as the fourth clone has also been beheaded by Genya. However, Genya does not look well at all. in fact, he’s looking very demonic, not unlike Nezuko. Will Tanjirou’s next opponent be a fellow slayer? Will Tokitou be able to overcome the poison from Gyokko’s needles? Will we get to see more Mitsuri kicking ass? We’ll surely find out soon.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – Swordsmith Village Arc – 04 – In Their Feelings

As Tokitou is running past a Kotetsu about to be killed by a mutant fish demon, he remembers Tanjirou’s words about helping people coming back to help you, so he spares a few minutes to take the fish out. Kotetsu rides along as Tokitou heads back to the main battle.

Tanjirou is also isolated by the winged fragment of Hantengu. He gets hit by a sonic attack, but he learns that when he chops the demon up, their individual attacks grow weaker. The demon’s talons are a problem, but Tanjirou is hanging in there.

He’d really like to get back to Nezuko and Genya, who are dealing with the other three fragments of Hantengu: anger, pleasure, and sadness. Genya manages to knock off the Sad one with a combo of his shotgun, sword, and staunch refusal to die; he’s a tough cookie.

And then there’s Nezuko, who kicks the shit out of Pleasure and burns him with her blood. It’s great to see Nezuko actually fighting and doing a pretty good job of it. Her attacks and acrobatics are certainly some of the prettiest of the show, but she suffers a setback when Anger stabs her in the throat and starts hitting her with electricity.

Tanjirou finally uses Joy’s flight ability to his advantage, correctly deducing that the demon must be super light. He skewers him through the face and basically uses him as a glider to get back to the building where Nezuko and Genya are flagging.

Once back in the building, he slices off Joy’s foot and uses it to deflect Anger’s lightning, then slashes Anger’s tongue to buy time to free Nezuko. Anger nearly stabs Tanjirou in the throat, which would have been unpleasant, but Nezuko manages to stop the thrust with her immense strength.

Joy then swoops in and hits them with his big leaf fan thingy, which is essentially a wind and gravity-based attack that disables both Nezuko and Tanjirou. The timing of this is bad, as a huge horde of those mutant fish demons start to invade the village, whose swordsmiths are far better at making weapons than wielding them.

It’s fortunate, then, that Mitsuri was not stationed far from the village, and thanks to her crow, is on her way to spell Tanjirou, Nezuko, Genya, and Tokitou. She comes with a full head of steam and her trademark positive attitude, a ray of sunshine who will surely turn the tide.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Saving 80,000 Gold in Another World – 12 (Fin) – Dragonslayer Mitsuha

The dragon that shows up at the end of last week isn’t just a dragon, but a great ancient dragon, who is the force behind the Empire’s invasion. When talking with the dragon (with a giant drone-projected image of herself) fails, Mitsuha and her military contractors let him have it.

Small arms fire doesn’t do much, but heavy machine gun fire and a bazooka to the mouth does. Once sufficiently beaten up, the dragon flies off with its tail between its legs, and the imperial army retreats. It’s an unqualified victory for the Messenger of Lightning.

Because of her contribution to that victory, the king and nobles are very generous when it comes to providing recompence for Mitsuha’s use of soldiers from her homeland. She makes up a story about them fighting against the laws of their land, and sits back and waits for each and every noble to contribute enough.

The thing is, Wolf Fang didn’t even need Mitsuha to pay them anything, because the dragon fang they’re allowed to take home, along with the patent rights from Harvard research, fetch a more than hefty enough sum for their services.

Mitsuha and Alexis (who makes a “miraculous” recovery thanks to modern medicine) are both bestowed the title of viscountess and viscount, respectively. Her new lands happen to be just a half-day’s walk from Colette’s village, and Mitsuha pays her a visit to invite her to work as her retainer.

Colette is not only over the moon to see Mitsuha is safe and sound from the war, but delighted to come live with her in her territory; her parents are also fine with it. And so now Mitsuha finds herself a powerful viscountess in another world, responsible for the upkeep and development of a large swath of fertile land.

That means there will be quite a few more expenses involved than maintaining a small general store in the capital. As they say, more money, more problems. Mitsuha is now well on her way to that 80,000 gold she needs for retirement. Despite her new station in life and the riches that may lend, she seems determined to stick with that relatively humble goal.

There’s no news of whether there will be a second season of 80,000 Gold, and due to its animation and character shortcomings (Mitsuha’s a little too perfect), it’s not a given that I’ll be tuning back in if one were to be announced. That said, it wasn’t a bad show for what it was: an exploration of the economic and social intricacies one would face in a new world.

Saving 80,000 Gold in Another World – 11 – Bringing Guns to a Spear Fight

Though she can transport herself and Captain out of danger, Mitsuha doesn’t want to abandon the innocent refugees to be slaughtered by monsters. So Captain holds off the horde with bullets along enough to teleport home, grab all the firestarter paste, newspaper, and fireworks she can, and uses it to burn/blast away the remaining monsters and their human handler.

With the refugees saved and able to cross the river, Mitsuha and Captain return to the mercs’ base, where she dons a custom-made “battle gown” and delivers a stirring speech to rally the sixty men who will have to go up against 20,000 imperial soldiers and unknown number of monsters under their control. Captain is impressed by her ability to agitate, while she admits to no one that she borrowed the speech from a manga.

She teleports the entire mercenary contingent into the palace courtyard, then has the motorcade split off to defend the various gates. The cityfolk see the dawn light hit Mitsuha just right, and the legend of the “Messenger of Lightning” really starts to take off. Then Mitsuha has the enemy envoy wounded and takes out all the veteran soldiers and monster handlers, leaving the imperial army in disarray.

Their commander celebrates when their groundbreaking Wyvern Squaron arrives, and Mitsuha sweats her first drop of sweat. However, the Captain and his men have the skies covered thanks to their own personal “God”, an old half-track with twin 20mm anti-aircraft cannons. It once saved their asses in a past battle, and here it tears the wyverns to ribbons. Technically speaking, this show’s ambition is undermined by its limited production values; there’s an awful lot of panning across still frames.

It’s looking like it’s going to be a walk in the park for Mitsuha and her hastily mustered squadron of battle-tested mercs. But then a massive dragon starts stomping through the trees, and all of a sudden it’s looking like they may take some losses. The episode ends with this cliffhanger, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the big guy gets his ass kicked by Colette, Mitsuha’s freakishly strong first friend in this world who is worried about Mitsuha’s safety.

Tenten Kakumei – 10 – Duty and the Heart At Odds

With the big bad that was Prince Algard dispatched and MagiRevo having now fielded not one but two episodes that could have been fine finales, I was, like everyone else, wondering “what now?” At least in terms of the succession thing, this week answers that immediately: Anisphia is the successor to the throne once more. It means, among other things, she’ll eventually have to take a prince consort, despite being gay as hell.

Both Euphie and Lainie are a little unnerved not by how okay with all of this Anis is—she clearly isn’t—but how resigned she is to her new fate to ascend to a throne she had previously refused. While they are more polite and subtle in their concern, Tilty makes no effort to hide her distaste for this resignation, and almost tries to wipe that fake, sad smile of Anis’ face before storming out of the room.

That night Euphie finds Anis keeping to herself atop the castle battlements, feeling low about how things went down with Tilty. Anis soothes her bad mood by inviting Euphie on a plainclothes date into town to pick up Arc-en-Ciel, which she sent to her go-to-smith Tomas for repairs. A woman recognizes the princess, and before long she’s swarmed with adoring commoners.

Her queendom feels like a wave she’s caught in, and even if she’s able to escape, she won’t try. When asked for her unvarnished opinion by Euphie, Ilia says she knows Anis may be the only one who can unite the nobles and commoners, but the fact she’s being forced into rule may not suit her.

Ilia then shows Euphie the completely stripped down magicology lab, saying Anis likely have to abandon it forever to be “a ruler for all”. And it probably won’t be the only precious thing she casts aside for the sake of duty and country.

The thought of Anis never having a genuine smile once she assumes the throne and does her royal duty is unbearable to Euphie, who goes to Tilty for help, knowing she also objects. Tilty gets Euphie to be completely honest by saying she doesn’t want Anis to be queen, even if it’s her duty to support her with everything she has. Tilty tells Euphie there’s nothing wrong or right about those feelings; they should inform which path she takes.

Euphie marches into her father’s office and declares her objection to Anis taking the throne. When asked why, it’s because the throne is somewhere Anis will never be able to smile. She knows that smile can’t be traded for the lives of everyone in the kingdom, but she still doesn’t want to automatically accept her ascension as the only possible outcome.

Euphie clarifies that at its core this isn’t about duty or sympathy, but simply her love for Anisphia, which makes protecting her smile a hell of a lot more important than it would be to just anyone. Grantz tells her as Duke Magenta he cannot accept her position, leaving unsaid the fact he likely feels more sympathetic to her in his capacity as her dad.

Grantz reminisces on how Anis’ father Orphanse was just as much a wild child as his daughter, and “threw away his dream of happiness” to ascend to the throne and put down the rebellion, just as Grantz supported him with all his strength. His story is interrupted by the arrival of several magical spirits, which then float out the window and surround a mysterious blonde lady in the courtyard.

Grantz introduces Euphie to Miss Lumi, a spirit contractor. Spirit contracts establish authority as a member of the royal family, which means those who enter into spirit contracts can start new royal dynasties. Just as Euphie is considering this as an option to keep Anis off the throne, she learns that not only did her father consider but ultimately choose not to do that way back when, but that Lumi is here specifically to stop Euphie from doing it.

I’m torn. I want to see a kingdom ruled by a Queen Anisphia, but I don’t want her to abandon Euphie, nor her magicology studies. She could place Euphie in the role of Royal Magicologist, and keep her close as her mistress. With Algard creating a power vacuum, things are suddenly very complicated and have the potential to get messy. But the simple fact remains that Anis and Euphie love one another. I hope it’s enough.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

To Your Eternity – S2 19 – Old Dog, New Tricks

When Bon stabs himself and his blood spills on the Fushi orb, Fushi wakes up as Bon, which means now he can see ghosts, including the ghost of Bon, along with his two ever-present ghost buddies. Bon then presents Fushi with Tonari and Ligard, Gugu, Oniguma and March, telling him he can resurrect them all like he’s done with Kai, Hylo, and Messar (who are also present).

Having Fushi (albeit in Bon form) finally be reunited with old friends thought long dead is the highlight of an episode that will have a lot more positive developments come. Fushi almost calling March “Mama”, Gugu’s big bear hug, Horse pushing Tonari into the group hug, Messar freaking out over the actual giant white bear…it’s all great stuff.

Needless to say, it’s also great to see these folks alive and in the flesh (and indeed, the ED has been previewing the return of this particular group). Because they’re all back with their various skills and also immortal like the three warriors, they start to turn the tide of a battle that was quickly going sideways. Forget a gamble; if Bon hadn’t passed his ghost-seeing ability to Fushi, Renril would have surely fallen to the Nokkers.

I was a little confused by what was going on last week, but the Nokker in Eko’s arm (formerly in Kahaku’s arm) saved her from jumping off the tower so it could save itself. Kahaku tracks it down, and it sprouts Nokker flesh zombies of all of the vessels it stole from Fushi. After a brief tussle, Kahaku convinces the Nokker to return to his body, and he’ll promise to keep it alive by continuing the Guardians’ breeding program…only in isolation.

That necessarily means that Kahaku must part ways with his beloved Fushi, regretting that he and his descendants couldn’t do more for him in the past two hundred years. I think he’s selling himself short, as if nothing else, had his arm Nokker not taken all of Fushi’s remaining vessels, the circumstances might not have coalesced to allow Fushi to not only ressurect a bunch of his old friends and allies, but Renril’s soldiers and citizens as well.

Further realization of Fushi’s powers results in an accelerated expansion of his body, and the more people he resurrects, the further back the Nokkers are pushed, until by the time dawn arrives, not a single Nokker remains in the city or within Fushi’s senses. With the great battle won thanks to Fushi reaching more of his possibly boundless potential, the final episode can be about both celebration of victory, and those he brought back deciding how they’ll all move forward.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Tenten Kakumei – 09 – A Warm Hand

It was always held out before him: an invitation to fun, trouble, or both. Algard never quite knew exactly what he’d get when he took that outstretched hand, but he still remembers how warm it felt in his, and that he knew no matter what, he wouldn’t be bored. And yet, a time came when that very same hand felt as cold as ice.

Now Al wields ice in bullet, spear, icicle rain, and hammer forms in order to stamp out the sister he loved so dearly. Never again can their hands touch; not while both draw breath. A fight ensues between the unstoppable force of a super-regenerating vampire against the immovable object of a magicologist blessed with dragon powers. It starts out a stalemate. Yet Al can tell Anis is holding back. He might be too?

All this time, Euphie, the one person who could turn the tables in an increasingly brutal duel, is still busy trying to keep Lainie from dying of a stolen heart. Once she’s healed enough to speak, Lainie reminds her healer that as a vampire, she needs blood to wield her own magic. Euphie prepares to cut herself, but Ilia stops her, bites through her lip, then delivers her blood to Lainie mouth-to-mouth, healing her completely.

Now Euphie is free to intervene in the sibling fight just when both it and tempers are getting well and truly out of hand. By continually healing the wounds Anis causes and throwing everything he’s got her way, Al gets Anis to a state where she thinks killing him for real is the only way to stop him. And yet, she’s still able to hold back her killing blow when she sees the look on Al’s fast-approaching face is no longer rage or resentment, but resignation and even relief that his wretched existence is about to end.

Anis doesn’t like that face one bit, while Euphie knows Anis doesn’t really want to kill her brother, but is just doing it because she thinks there’s no other choice. So she creates another option by plucking Anis out of midair and tacking her to the ground, tells her that she and her brother are acting like a couple of damn fools, and they both basically need a good long time out.

Anis’ attack did enough that Al is lying in a defeated heap on the ground. He recalls a beautiful day when he looked up and found Anis up in the sky above him, smiling on him, before reaching out with that warm hand. When the two of them broke out of the castle to go on an adventure, they encountered a monster. Anis told Al to run while she dealt with it, and he obeyed, hiding in a tree hollow.

Al idolized Anis more than anything at this time in his life. But then horrible rumors spread that Anis was trying to off his brother to consolidate power, and Anis unilaterally decided the best way to prove to everyone that she had no desire for the throne was to renounce it and bestow it on Al. Little did she know that was the last thing Al wanted.

Both the day he slapped her hand away in response to her rash decision, and every day since, he resented her for giving up a throne that was rightfully hers, while cursing a world for being so cruel to her that she felt she had to. He hated this world that rejected his sister so much, he believed destroying it and starting over was the only way.

But Al shot his shot and failed, and accepts the consequences. His only “defense” to his father the king is that he was a fool, straight up, and will accept any punishment. His father disinherits him and exiles him to the borderlands to work for the kingdom until he “turns to dust”. His mother tries to bear some responsibility, and perhaps she does, but he says his sins were his own. Rather than her being a bad mother, he should have been a better son.

Anis also feels responsible for creating the monster that was Crown Prince Algard, saying if only she’d “lived a normal life” in this world (which we know to be an isekai for her) maybe he wouldn’t have suffered so much. Of course, during their battle, she said all she could ever be was herself, so she’s being too harsh on herself here. This time, Al holds out his shackled hand, and a tearful Anis shakes it to make up one last time.

In the following days, Lord Chartreuse and his son are executed for their role in the attempted coup, while both Anis and Ilia remain bedridden. Lainie has fully recovered, and she and Euphie are the only ones up and about the day Algard is shipped off. Lainie takes the opportunity to tell Algard that she’s convinced there’s true kindness in him that she was lucky to experience, she also won’t forgive or forget what he did to her.

When Euphie approaches him, he tells her not to put up a front, even if it’s second nature so the duke’s illustrious genius daughter. He gets in some final, half-joking barbs about her fitness as a fiancée, and then she gives him a well deserved yet oddly formal slap across the face that Al accepts happily, as he was just as deplorable a fiancé.

Here the two are able to be simply a man and woman, realizing that they were always terrible for each other and it was a wonder they were engaged as long as they were. And then, Al asks Euphie, quite solemnly, to please take care of his sister.

Just as only Anis can be the next queen, even in a kingdom where nearly all the nobles condemn her as a heretic, only Euphie can be the one take care of her. With Ilia still recovering from her injuries, Euphie makes nursing Anis back to health her primary responsibility. When she hears Anis muttering in her sleep about Al and being sorry, Euphie tells her to dream happier dreams, and kisses her on the forehead.

Even if the ill effects of the dragon tattoo eventually clear, the fate of Algard will continue to weigh heavily on Anis like a ball and chain. In that regard, her and Euphie’s roles have now fully reversed: Euphie is now the freer one, with her clean conscience and strong sense of purpose. That’s why it’s absolutely crucial she stay by Anis’ side to help her climb out of the deep dark morass, just as Anis helped her. Euphie must take her warm hand in hers, and never let go.


To Your Eternity – S2 18 – Bringing Out the Deathless

March is just a hair too late to reunite with her “child”, as all of Fushi’s vessels are stolen from the Nokker in Kahaku’s arm. When he chops that arm off, it escapes and runs off, leaving a distraught Kahaku, March…and Horse. So what now? March gets on Horsey and rides to find a doctor.

Her path takes her through swarms of Nokkers overruning the city and its defenses, which are now crippled because there’s no Fushi to repair structures or replenish ammo. The three immortal warriors are also out of commission. All hell is breaking loose. But March does manage to attract Bon’s attention. He comes to Booze Man’s house, and is soon follow by Eko, who recovers Fushi in orb form, still attacked to the city.

Bon believes the only way to bring Fushi back is to remind him of the sights, sounds, and smells of the ones he absorbed, since there’s still something of them within him in that orb. He achieves this by stabbing himself, dying, and becoming one of the ghosts that once haunted him. Then he, Gugu, and all the other dead vessels place their ghost hands on the orb, in hopes of bringing him back.

That resurrection can’t come soon enough, as Renril has been all but lost to the relentless Nokkers, who as we know are determined to “free” every person on earth from their physical bodies. A desperate fight outside the hospital ends with Kamu getting smashed by a Nokker ball, then Sera getting arrows in the back from what appear to be Nokker-controlled metal puppets.

Eko, who has a Nokker infecting her arm, spends a good deal of the final third of the episode preparing to leap off the tower (a scene foretold in the OP), but that arm stops her fall, and from it emerges Fushi’s head, this time with those purple eyes Bon bestowed upon him way back when. I am not entirely sure what is going on, but it definitely was a lot, and I can only hope that the fortunes of Fushi, his friends, allies, and the people of Renril will improve when all’s said and done.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

To Your Eternity – S2 17 – No Exit

When Fushi spots March’s tiny handprint on the wall, indicating that she’s alright, he recreates her body and disconnects it, just as he does for the three immortal warriors. The body doesn’t come to life because March is still alive somewhere in the city. Fushi just doesn’t know that. No one does.

Hylo faces a moral crisis of sorts when he encounters a thief breaking evac protocols. The old man doesn’t care about consequences, he was born and raised in prison and never had a roof of his own under his head. Hylo lets him go, but that same thief ends up killing a young boy when he robs a house. Is he damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t?

The biggest blow to the immortal allies, however, is Messar. He arrives at the palace to find Alme mourning the death of her father the king. Then she runs to the nearest balcony to jump off, and he catches her. He lifts her veil to reveal she’s become infected by Nokkers. He’s forced to kill her, then asks Fushi to bring her back to life. He produces a copy of Alme’s body, but there’s no sign of life.

Being asked to bring Alme back reinforces Fushi’s suspicion that Bon, who gathered the three allies, is keeping something from him (which is true!). That’s confirmed when Bon says he can’t discuss it until the battle is over and won. He won’t talk about it, just as he hasn’t brought it up ever, because he doesn’t want to shoulder Fushi with yet one more thing.

And yet, in the closing hours of this, just the fourth day of the Battle of Renril, the weight Fushi already carries threatens to crush him. His nose is almost always bleeding, forcing him to shift from one vessel to another constantly. Kahaku frees himself (by killing Kai), then accidentally kills the three when they resurrect at the Booze Man’s house for dinner.

Fushi initially says he wants “a breather”, but then confides in Kahaku that he wants this al to end. The constant death, pain, anxiety, and creeping  defeat as the Nokkers continue their relentless advance—it’s all too much. Kahaku says he’ll help Fushi, but then his left arm suddenly goes berserk, tearing and slashing at Fushi’s vessels one by one.

In the midst of this, the March he unknowingly resurrected bursts through the door, having been brought there by Horse. She scuffles with Kahaku and his arm, begging him not to kill Fu-chan. His mother, the one who named him two centuries ago, is finally here. Will she be able to save him not just from this assault, but his own feelings of despair and futility?

Rating: 4/5 Stars

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