「猛獣使の泪」 (Mōjū-shi no Namida)
“Tears of the Wild Beast Tamer”
Glad to see you back, Tsukumo-chan!
Note: Apologies for the late post; between horribly unreliable internet and getting hideously sick it’s been tough finding time to be lucid enough or efficient enough to get anything done. Even so, the lateness is less than professional, so I’ll work hard to try and lessen such instances in the future. Gomenasai.
Seeing as we’re close to the end, I’ve been pretty apprehensive about whether or not Tsukumo would make it through this time. For all intents and purposes she looked dead, and there were quite a few death flags being tripped here and there that made me anxious about her fate. However, I think we have to admit there’s likely some adaptation decay at work here considering how quickly that suspense is overturned. It isn’t even five minutes into this episode that we get confirmation of her survival, and as much as a relief as that is for those of us who like her character, it feels a little cheap. Why bother killing her off like that just to bring her back with minimum nail-biting? From a narrative perspective, it feels weird unless I put it down to plain old decay.
That aside, the rest of the episode is fairly interesting plot-wise. For the first time, we’re given a real explanation for the magic of Circus, and it comes from a source I never really considered. We’ve seen cute and fluffy animals all over this show, but I never expected any of them but Nai to be of any interest; as it is, it turns out that Circus’ powers stem entirely from these fluffy little creatures. Specifically, from those who evolved a certain type of cell in extreme environments, said cells which are then extracted and placed in the bracelets of Circus members. However, not all the critters this time around are friendly. We get a little bit of a side note when one of the animals is revealed to have turned Varuga after one of the Circus Life Division members injects it for the sake of saving its life. It’s a sad little tale where the animal must be killed to end its suffering, but of more interest to me is what the escapade says about the Circus members in general. As insufferable as some of them are, none of them really seem like bad people, and even those, like Yogi, that suffer from backlash of the cell in their bracelets just want what’s best for the people (and creatures) they help.
Unfortunately for Gareki, however, that just makes things more difficult to accept. Since the beginning he’s been little more than an add-on to Nai’s escort, a fact that he’s been painfully aware of all along. Now that he’s had that thrown in his face though, his tenure aboard the Second Ship might get just a tad more uncomfortable.
“Ice Cream Parade”
I’m definitely starting to wonder about how wise the adaptation decisions have been for this series. Being unfamiliar with the manga doesn’t help, but I’m feeling a rushed sense about the way things have been going over the last few episodes. It’s not so noticeable that it’s disastrous, but it’s definitely there, and that only makes it more baffling as to why stories such as Yanari’s and the Life Division’s Varuga have been included in the last two episodes. What narrative purpose do these little stories really serve? They do help flesh characters out, like Yogi, but at the expense of a really comprehensive narrative. True, there are still two episodes left, but is that really enough time to get to the meat and bones of the thing and pull it all off satisfactorily?
Though the same can be said for last episode, I’m finding Yanari’s story a bit more fillerish for my tastes. As I’ve said, I’m not familiar with the manga and thus have no idea as to whether or not he’s included there, but this is definitely an episodic sort of narrative. Yanari’s estrangement from his mother feels too overdramatic, even for a series like this, and without much of a purpose or emotional connections. We get some nice Yogi interactions, mostly where he’s being a Nyanperona fanboy (a little narcissistic, perhaps, but with good intentions) and a self-proclaimed defender of children’s dreams, and some confirmations that Nai and Gareki have grown a bit or otherwise learned something from their time with Circus, but mostly there’s not a lot going on that feels important, especially not when we’re so close to the end like this. That’s not to say it’s a bad episode or a useless one, but I feel like this time could have been used far more effectively than it was.
Thankfully, the plot finally comes center stage in the last few minutes. Karoku has contacted Nai, saying that he’ll be killed soon, but I can’t help but think this stinks of a trap. Karoku has never seemed like he’s been under anyone’s control, and if anything it seems like he’s got quite the high ranking among Khafka. It seems very unlikely that he’s been a captive all along, but I can’t dismiss this as a lie either. After all, Karoku has been injured this whole time, and it doesn’t seem to be false that he was probably abducted, so in that case, just what is going on? Is the man who tried to kill Tsukumo innocent after all? Or are Nai and the others truly headed straight-first into a trap?