Golden Kamuy – 30 – The Flag-Bearer

The dead Russian doesn’t just have a wanted poster with a sketch of Kuroranke, but Wilk as well, as we learn the two worked together to kill the emperor. Ogata’s game of cat-and-mout with Vasily concludes when he makes the Russian shoot first—at the wrong thing.

Vasily saw signs of covered footprints leaving the unmoving cloaked figure, which led to an Uilta coffin in a tree. But it turns out the coffin was the decoy, and when Vasily shoots it, thats when Ogata, the cloaked figure after all, shoots Vasily through the face.

Ogata masked his breath by eating snow, but hours of that and sitting in the bitter cold take their toll, and he end up with a horrible fever. He starts to have delirious dreams of the past when he was still trying to recruit his ultra-pure of blood and heart half brother Yuusaku, the flag-bearer for their unit.

There’s a superstition in the army about the flag-bearer being a virgin as a form of protection from the bullets. Ogata never cared for that, but he can’t really complain when Asirpa and Shiraishi participate in an Uilta healing ceremony designed to draw out the “wicked thing” causing his fever—in his case, lingering memories of his failed attempts to corrupt Yuusaku.

During the ritual, Shiraishi meets with Asirpa outside, telling her it’s not safe for her in Russia, particularly when their guide killed the emperor. Kiroranke leaves the tent too and comes as clean as you’d expect, telling them his old name was Yulbars, and he and Wilk killed the emperor who forged a treaty that threatened all far-east minority peoples. Asirpa decides not to run away, hoping to find the gold “when the killing is done”.

Ogata’s dreams resolve in a revisiting of the episode 19, when we first learned of Ogata’s unfortunate family situation. When Ogata notes Yuusuke hasn’t killed a single Russian during his tour, he offers up a prisoner for him to execute, but Yuusuke refuses. The next time he marches into battle bearing the flag, Ogata shoots him in the head, ending the failed mission to bring him into the fold with Tsurumi and negating the superstition of the flag-bearer’s invincibility in the same shot.

Because ultimately, Ogata is right: surviving bullets on the battlefield has nothing to do with chastity, nobility of one’s blood or the purity of one’s heart or soul. Yuusuke may have been the most moral man on the battlefield, but that made him an easy target for any bullet, not just Ogata’s. When his blood spilled, it was just blood, like anyone else’s.

After an Uilta fortune-telling ritual involving reading the cracks in burnt reindeer shoulder blade (that apparently goes well), Asirpa joins Kiroranke and a recovered Ogata further north, but Shiraishi is poised to stay behind. They say their goodbyes, but when Shiraishi remembers Sugimoto urging him to keep Asirpa safe, he runs after them.

When we first saw the bone cracks indicating “someone approaching from behind”, I took it to mean Sugimoto’s group was closing on them and they’d eventually meet up. But here it’s revealed Shiraishi, was the person from behind foretold by the bone. Then, after they leave, more cracks appear on that same bone, turning the good sign into a bad one.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle – 01 (First Impressions) – Comfort At All Costs

In an effort to claim the Human kingdom of Goodereste as his dominion, the Twilight Demon Lord takes Princess Syalis hostage. But rather than despair in her unadorned cell, all Syalis really wants to do is get a good night’s sleep!

We follow her increasingly creative efforts to make that happen through the gradual improvement of her sleeping conditions. That’s it…that’s the show! There isn’t the slightest effort to make either her captivity or its political ramifications remotely serious, and that’s just fine! Syalis has her priorities, and they begin and end with her nightly comfort, The End.

Her efforts are laid out as individual “quests”, four of which make up this first episode, starting with a new pillow. At first she considers whether to kill the demon teddies who serve her meals, but she instead simply brushes them of their excess fluff.

Syalis proves wonderfully resourceful and industrious when it comes to locating the materials and tools with which to create said pillow, which makes you wonder whether she wouldn’t be in captivity and the Demon Lord wouldn’t be a threat if she used her powers for things other than improving her bedding!

With her pillow quest completed, she proceeds to have a wonderful night of peaceful sleep, which is very much the opposite of what her host wants. At the conclusion of each of her quests, the Demon Lord stops by her cell to talk, only to find her sleeping so soundly even he dare not disturb her, and holds off their chat to a tomorrow that never comes.

The Demon Lord isn’t the only softie in this giant, lightning-wreathed, otherwise intimidating-looking castle. His guards, servants, and members of his own court are either two Cokes short of a six-pack or simply too bewildered by the princess’ unexpected okayness with her captivity to do anything.

Syalis’ next two quests have her exchanging her crown for a sorcerers’ scissors in order to make a “soft crown” she can sleep in without it marring her forehead, and then stabbing and (re?)killing a “Ghost Shroud” she deems the softest and most luxurious bedsheet.

The latter quest is an exhaustive castle-wide cloak-snipping rampage that none of her captors can stop or even slow down! It’s also aided by the fact her meal teddies are always ready and willing to give her the key to her cell in exchange for a good brushing.

Her final quest of the week involves finding a more overall comfortable bed, away from the din of the various monsters and demons snoring in her cell block. This leads her to literally stumbling upon a wind shield that suspends her on a soft cushion of air…which happens to be a shield the Demon Lord absolutely needs in order to maintain his military advantage.

In order to take the smaller wind-producing piece of the shield with her, she smashes the shield to bits with a passing “diamond guard” she tosses into a pillowcase to make a blackjack. I don’t know why a princess knows about mob weapons, but I don’t care; it’s hilarious, as is the way she jumbles together the useless remains of the shield and tosses it into a chest.

With a potentially ideal air-bed in her possession, Syalis searches the castle and grounds for the best place to set it up. In the process she is spotted by guards, then trips on a slippery demon, falls into the magma moat…and dies. This happens hilariously quickly and casually.

No sooner does she realize she’s dead doe she wake up in the demon chapel beneath the castle, run by the Demon Cleric. She also wakes up in a coffin, and proceeds to use the Cleric’s goat horns to sand smooth, then lines with the ghost shroud and her new pillow.

Her new bed thus perfected, Syalis closes herself into the coffin, away from the noises of her cellmates, and passes into a deep slumber, none the worse for wear after her death-by-magma and rapid resurrection. Of course, that’s when the Demon Lord arrives at her cell to talk, only to have to postpone it for another time, because he’s not one to interrupt a princess’ sleep!

Nimble, imaginative, and filled with lovely stylized fantasy imagery, Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle is a lot of fun, anchored by the always-charming vocal talents of Minase Inori and a supporting cast of colorful supporting voices.

I love how the Demon Lord and his minions are basically a bunch of big ol’ softies who can do nothing against Syalis’ easy, breezy charm. She basically dares them to wake her up and throw her in a dungeon, but that ain’t happening…and even if it did, she’d probably make the most of it!

Finally, there’s also a Hero and his party out there trying to rescue the princess, unaware that she doesn’t need to be rescued. She doesn’t even remember the guy’s name, and trying to remember would be a waste of time better spent improving her bedding.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

 

Owari no Seraph 2 – 09

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So yeah, the pills did kill Yuu, but only briefly. In a post-death, pre-afterlife scene involving Ashuramaru, an unseen angel, and a trumpet, he comes back imbued with even more of the demon’s power. He goes after Crowley straight away, and the vamp is impressed with his power, wondering if you can even still call him human.

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Crowley isn’t worried, though; Yuu is, at the end of the day, only livestock. No matter how much he fights, he can’t win. Especially when Yuu’s friends end his fight by using Kiseki-o’s coffin to contain him so they can take him away. Guren, meanwhile, remains captive, but alive, and told Yuu he has “his own plan for himself.”

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Shinoa and Guren’s squads meet back up with Narumi’s and head to the next rendezvous, but their way is blocked by a single enemy: Mika. As soon as he spots an unconscious Yuu in their clutches, it just gets Yuu even more upset. He’s taking Yuu away from those human bastards. And he does it in a very Yuu-like fashion: rushing forward on a wing and a prayer.

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He meets stiff from Guren’s elites and the grunts, but he will not be denied his family. When Yuu’s friends try to convince him they’re also Yuu’s family, he won’t listen. It’s just him and Yuu. No other friends, no other family, nothing else to live for. But his opinion on Yuu’s “captors” might just change a tiny bit when Shinoa, Mitsu, Yoichi and Shiho turn their weapons onto their own allies in order to protect him and Yuu.

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Needless to say, Yuu’s fam is in big, big trouble, but the recriminations have to wait, as vampire reinforcements arrive. Mika, in bad shape, makes off with Yuu, and Shinoa trusts they’ll meet again at the airport. Then the vamps advance, Yayoi and Kagiyama are killed in quick succession, and even more vamps descend. Shinya orders Shinoa and the others spared for the time being so they can help fight off the enemy and retreat.

Will Mika hold to Shinoa’s plan to meet back up? How will Shinya and Narumi deal with their insubordinate subordinates, assuming they survive the vampire onslaught? And how will Yuu react when he wakes up, and in place of his squad, he’s now with Mika? Both brothers have sought to “save” one another from their respective plights; now they’re in the same boat together.

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