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「地龍」 (Okoro)
“Okoro”

Change is the air, finally.

This was probably the most interesting episode of Arata Kangatari so far – both in its own terms, and because it’s where we’re finally seeing some deviation from the manga. The anime is half over – as for the manga who knows (it’s about to release its 19th volume, with no signs that Watase-sensei is slowing down). This presents some interesting dilemmas both for the anime staff and for fans of the series.

Fans of Watase Yuu know that she can be surprisingly dark and grim – character armor doesn’t always apply where you think it might, and she confronts some pretty intense themes under her pretty exteriors. We got a little taste of that early on with Hinohara’s bullying issues at school – not to the extent that we did in the manga, sadly, but there’s still a part of that story to be told. And happily, it looks as if the anime will be devoting some time to Arata’s storyline next week, shedding further light on those events. They’re important on their own terms – it’s Arata’s main chance to shine as a character – but also because to understand Hinohara, you really need to understand the trauma that made him who he is.

Another thing Watase Yuu veterans know is that she has a tendency to give deep backstories to characters who appear to be minor players or even villains, and that poignant and powerful emotions in her series can come from places where you don’t expect them. The story of Ohika (Konishi Katsuyuki) is a pretty hard-hitting one. He shows his honor when he refuses to believe the charges Akachi levels against his Lord, Kannagi, and says that even if they were true he would stay loyal and share Kannagi’s punishment rather than forsake his master. Judging by what we saw (in aftermath only) last week, it seems likely that all of Kannagi’s other Zokusho responded the same way – which reinforces both the notion that Kannagi inspired a fierce loyalty in his retainers, and that all of them suffered the same fate Ohika did.

And that fate is a brutal one – even after Ohika’s agreeing to submit his Hayagmi to Akachi in order to spare his wife and household, Akachi betrays his promise and kills two servants and even Ohika’s pregnant wife, Fuyu. This all happens as Hinohara hides and watches, helpless – and he remains helpless as Kannagi arrives on the scene and does battle with Akachi in a rage over what’s happened. For Hinohara the hesitation is understandable – Kannagi is the one who killed the Princess, framed him for the crime and had him sent to Gotoya. Yet everything he’s seen in Kannagi’s domains, especially at Ohika’s compound, shakes his belief in what he believes to be the truth. In the end, Kannaga has his Hayagami, Homura, forcibly taken from him and seems a broken man as Akachi leaves him to survive and suffer over his loss.

Watase-sensei is very good – deceptively so – at making us believe we know what’s happening and who her characters are, then pulling the rug out from under us. I’m not going to say a whole lot for now about the obvious Kannagi and Akachi backstory the anime is hinting at, because it’s being hinted at a lot earlier in the anime and there’s just no way to know how much of it they plan to cover. Suffice to say it’s a very good one, and the anime has already made it obvious that they were once very close, and share regrets over someone named Emisu. It also seems very likely based on this episode that the anime has eliminated a second-tier but fairly important character but again, I’ll leave that where it lies for the moment.

As of now, what’s critical is that Hinohara is facing another crisis of belief – in what he sees around him, but mostly in himself. This element of finally confronting his fears and not running away is perhaps Watase’s broad attempt at a classic shounen trope, but it’s essential to Hinohara’s character. He has to decide what kind of future he wishes to pursue inside Amawakuni, where he’s been asked by the Princess to rule the land yet wants to harm no one – rather a problem with the world of the Sho appears to be an "eat or be eaten" scenario. Hope arrives, however, in the notion of an old legend Kotoha recalls, where one Hayagami might have the ability not to force others to submit by force, but to have them submit willingly (as Tsutsuga did, in fact). The details of this are still unclear, but the name of the sword is Tsukuyo – and the utterance of that name appears to have a profound impact on Hinohara’s Hayagami. One that does not go unnoticed by interested observers, near and far…

 

(Note: Arata Kangatari will be on hiatus next week as it’s pre-empted by a table tennis tournament)

 

Preview

Arata Kangatari   06   Preview 01 Arata Kangatari   06   Preview 02 Arata Kangatari   06   Preview 03
May 15, 2013 at 6:46 am
15 comments »
  • May 15, 2013 at 6:57 amL002

    Mmmm, considering the deviations from the manga, then I suppose we will see how the two Aratas Show Spoiler ▼

  • May 15, 2013 at 7:32 amzztop

    I’m specifically curious what カンガタリ and 革神語 directly translate into in English,
    and if Arata’s Japanese title, アラタカンガタリ ~革神語~ carries the same meaning as the manga’s English title, Arata: The Legend.

    • May 15, 2013 at 8:00 amGuardian Enzo

      Something like “Tale of the God”.

  • May 15, 2013 at 1:23 pmIrenesharda

    I can sufficiently say that this was my favorite episode of the series thus far. The Shinsho battle was great and it may herald some more great moments to come. I don’t know why, but the drama with Ohika and his wife was more tragic in the manga than in the episode, but it was still good.

    However, be that as it may, it does seem like they are switching things up a bit. They appear to be mixing Kannagi and Akachi’s arcs together, I’m guessing for time purposes. They appear to be showing you their backstory ahead of time, even though in the manga you don’t find out about them once being best friends until quite a while later. I don’t know if I like that so much, since the backstory is one of the best things about Akachi’s arc and what makes it hit so hard emotionally.

    Both Aratas are seen this episode and both of them are done well. The re-did the present day stuff a bit, but it’s fine as is.

    Yes, this was a good episode, and I would give it an 9/10, if not for one thing:

    Why did they have to write Seo out of this adaptation?!!!!! He’s one of my favorite characters in the story and he has a very important purpose! Why do they leave him out? It can’t be for time reasons since even in the manga he appears when Arata needs him and disappers just as fast. And now this creates a plothole in the story. If Arata’s grandma and Kotoha always knew the sword’s name they would have told him earlier in the beginning, since knowing the sword’s name gives you more power and will help to fully awaken the hayagami.
    It worked that Seo was the one who advised Arata on how to go about the submission battle and gave him the name of the sword, since he wasn’t a character always with Arata and so he never told him until that moment. Also Seo is one of those all knowledgeable characters that can both teach and inform the MC.
    Was this just to give Kotoha more to do? Because I’m sorry, that girl will always be as 2D and flat as paper. It was just the way she was designed.

    So because of that very annoying point, I had to deduct. So I give episode 6 an 8/10.

  • May 15, 2013 at 3:27 pmrufe

    So, I still don’t understand how Oika believed Akachi enough to give himself up to him. I can understand making some deal with him if the cost benefit makes some sort of sense, but there’s no reason to believe somebody who immediately threatens people like that won’t just turn around and so something given the opportunity. It would have made more sense to agree (“initially”) to be his zokusho or something.

    I suppose it’s easy enough when you know everything like we do.

    • May 15, 2013 at 5:27 pmIrenesharda

      Well, he technically had no choice. It was either submit and hope Akachi kept his word, or not submit and everyone die. At least with him submitting, there was a chance that his wife and child would live. Ohika’s hayagami has no battle capabilities, its power is that of blacksmithing. He knew he was no match against Akachi.

    • May 16, 2013 at 10:27 amjhpace1

      Akachi wasn’t out for power climbing to the throne with Oika and Kannagi’s other retainers. This was about revenge against Kannagi. Hence Akachi had no intention of keeping his word, his purpose was to totally destroy Kannagi’s Zokusho.

      This makes Akachi nonredeemable in my book, and yet I am reminded of the mind-games the shoguns of the Edo period played against their own samurai, in order to keep them off-balance and thus not a threat to their own rule. They would force uninterested samurai to invade other regions, either to wipe out stronger samurai by retaliation or to sacrifice weaker samurai. Then they hired ninjas to assassinate any leaders unwilling to obey. I think we will see the same actions here.

  • May 15, 2013 at 4:33 pmTerence T

    Why didn’t Akachi go after Hinohara? I didn’t understand that scene.

    • May 15, 2013 at 5:02 pmGuardian Enzo

      I suspect he was playing it conservatively. He’s heard rumors and he’s dealing with an unknown entity in Arata, Sho-wise. He decided to play it safe since he figured he was winning with patience, rather than risk everything taking on an enemy whose true strength he didn’t know. After all, this is the child who got an extremely strong Hayagami to submit to him on Gotoya.

      • May 16, 2013 at 1:03 pmCybersteel

        But at that point Arata is outmatched.

      • May 16, 2013 at 4:06 pmTerence T

        Oftentimes these encounters are explained away by saying that the stronger guy wanted the weaker one to get more powerful so that the next time they met, the stronger guy could have a much more enjoyable fight. But Akachi didn’t seem the type to enjoy fighting just for the sake of fighting so that’s why I asked.

      • May 16, 2013 at 5:04 pmGuardian Enzo

        How does Akechi know that Arata is outmatched? He knows he’s scared, but he also knows he’s the guy who just kicked Gotoya Island’s collective ass.

  • May 16, 2013 at 8:34 pmlune

    I have read the manga, there is one character Im wait to appear here in anime but Im starting think he wont appear has suppose to appear in this episode (piss me off) a mysterious character that will help Arata in his time of confusion on what he must do! Show Spoiler ▼

    • May 17, 2013 at 1:54 amBakazuki

      I suspect that since not much is known about his character even in the manga, they’re trying to cut away elements they can’t explain in one season as much as possible. Show Spoiler ▼

  • May 19, 2013 at 12:26 amMagoiichi

    I know they changed some stuff, but I’d like to see them show Arata smashing Kadowaki’s face in.