OP: 「stone cold」 by FictionJunction
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We have a slightly updated opening sequence this week, featuring a different backdrops for the title screen and the shot at the very end, which now show the symbols of what are presumably the seven sacred elements.
「クレイジーナイト」 (Kureijii Naito)
Much like the preview suggested, the action picked up a fair bit with the formal introduction of Kijima Night (Okamoto Nobuhiko) and Lau Fei Zui (Nomizu Iori). However, the series still seems to lack an ultimate antagonist three episodes in, and I can’t really see Night being it since he hasn’t proven to be calculating enough. Without a villain of sorts, the story’s been unfolding a little too unilaterally for my liking. Most Ashi don’t talk after all (Onigawara being a huge exception), making it somewhat difficult to get a feel for how much Ruri hates them. At best, they come off as some alien species attacking Earth that no one really understands.
I actually thought that Kenmi Yuuji (Konishi Katsuyuki) would turn out to be a complex antagonist to fill in that void, but so far he’s only been shown to be a benevolent researcher who safeguards Sacred Takers so that their powers aren’t abused. Of course, the possibility that he has an ulterior motive is still there, given how easygoing he is about Night trying to kill him and the fact that he’s developed artificial power suits that harness the power of gems, a.k.a. Arti-Gem Suits. It’s one thing for Night and Fei to want to escape his research facility, and another thing altogether for them to want to see Kenmi dead, suggesting that Night harbors a grudge of some sorts against him — beyond just having a bad personality and resenting Kenmi for taking away his freedom anyway. I presume killing Kenmi would put a stop to the production of the medicine that Night’s reliant on for suppressing his Ashi powers too, which puts another perspective on the renegade bearer’s motives.
As for Ruri, her little speech before activating Aruma’s true power includes mention of taking his memories in exchange for her will/stone (both pronounced “ishi” in Japanese). Like some people have already speculated, this may tie into why she appears in Aruma’s memories, rather than the more obvious possibility that they knew each other when they were younger. I still like the idea that they were childhood friends though, simply because it helps explain why Ruri is so concerned about Aruma now. It’s also getting pretty darn expensive to transform Aruma into his stable Sacred Seven form each time, with this latest Eye of Valkyria costing Ruri a whopping 9.9 million pounds, so I’d like to believe there’s a reason besides ridding the world of Ashi and saving Aoi that explains why she’s willing to spend her foundation’s fortune so frivolously on Aruma.
So far, there’s a pretty stark contrast between Aruma and Night’s control over their abilities even though they’re both supposedly high level Sacred Sevens. Our protagonist is uncontrollably engulfed by his dark powers when he comes into close proximity with other Ashi, whereas our antagonist of the moment can transform as he pleases and even summon other Ashi to do his bidding. That difference leaves me wondering if it’s simply because Night’s embraced his dark side or if he’s been experimented on to achieve that level of control. Whatever the case, I’m looking forward to learning more about is Night and Fei’s past to get some answers about that. Assuming everything gets settled relatively peacefully, I can picture the two of them joining up with Aruma and Ruri some time down the road. Since Ruri’s been more or less confirmed to be Yoshi (i.e. the good version of an Ashi), she could very help Night stabilize his powers as well.
* Kenmi’s nameless SP, whom I mistakenly thought was Fei last time, is voiced by Bishoujo Group 31 idol member Takabe Ai. An interesting casting to say the least, since she primarily does TV dramas, variety shows, and gravure photo shoots.
* I can probably listen to FictionJunction’s “stone cold” on endless repeat and still not be sick of it after a few hours. I haven’t posted music PVs lately, but you can see both the OP and ED ones on flying DOG’s YouTube channel. Embedded below for your convenience.