「死の谷II」 (Shi no Tani II)
“The Valley of Death II”
The characters are fleshed out as they talk more about death and god, and run away from an old, gun-wielding friend.
Less World, More Characters
I was a bit harsh on the first episode because I felt it spent too much time developing the world and not enough explaining why we should care about these main characters, and more specifically why they have any business being in the same breath as something of worldwide significance like no one dying or being born. As I mentioned then, I don’t feel this was the fault of the original author – in reading the novel, we would have been able to turn the page to the next chapter and get the character stuff immediately. With this anime though, at least when we’re watching it as it airs, we had to wait. Fortunately, we didn’t have to wait long.
This episode immediately tackled why this story is focused on Hampnie and Ai, starting with the fact that Ai actually is a Gravekeeper. I will say that I’m a bit conflicted about finding out that she’s a hybrid already. It seems so early, like they could have saved that for a bigger moment…but then again, it’s so obvious that it would have felt cheap to have saved it. Good on the balance, plus it definitely means that she’s unique enough to perhaps hold the key to this world – or at least, give us an interesting point of view through which to experience it.
As for good ‘ol Hampnie, let me get this straight – there’s a white-haired, red-eyed anime bishie who actually is albino!? Le gasp! Joking aside, his immortality definitely marks him as someone special. Those two things combined better establish why the hell we’re following these two. I appreciate that.
Less Myth, More Horror
All the above said, they did chew into the world a bit more, and what they brought up this episode was more interesting to me than what we heard in the first episode. First of all, the thing that didn’t entertain me quite as much – the Half-Dead Fever. Yes, this is now officially a full-blown zombie show. Not that it ever wasn’t, but now it’s giving me urges to play L4D2, so it just feels way more like it. Not exactly enthused with that, but whatever – it’s not like it wasn’t expected.
What I enjoyed was Hampnie musing on the motives of God. Back up – I liked that there wasn’t actually some voice from the heavens, but rather that just one day, without anyone realizing it at the time, death and birth just–stopped. That’s easier to imagine, and it grounds the story in reality. But back to Hampnie and God, I’ve always been interested when highly intelligent people start musing about the divine. Not because I subscribe to every harebrained theory they come up with, but because it’s fascinating to see what people think up when they leave logic behind and go into the realm of belief and stories.
For Hampnie, it reveals a lot about his worldview when he calls God an idiot. But more than that, imagine if he’s right. When he said that he thought God just got bored, I was reminded of a quote from God Emperor of Dune, and since it’s not plot vital I’ll go ahead and say it:
“Even to be thought of as a god … can become ultimately boring. It has occurred to me more than once that holy boredom is good and sufficient reason for the invention of free will.”
Here, it seems that either free will wasn’t an option, or it wasn’t enough. Instead, their world’s God did what no true leader should do – it gave people what they wanted, not what they needed. It will be interesting to see if Hampnie’s theory ends up being true, or if it’s something else, or, is as with most deities, we never find out one way or the other.
Looking Ahead – The Secret Of That Village
Now that caught my interest. There is a secret sealed within Ai’s little village, and one which necessitated the slaughter of everyone there…these are the kind of mysteries that make me think that maybe little Ai-chan and brutal old Hampnie really are the characters we need to be following, and it piques my interest. I wouldn’t bet on us finding out more about that secret anytime soon, though.
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – The characters are fleshed out as they talk more about death and god, and run away from an old, gun-wielding friend #KamiNai
- I didn’t talk about Yuri (Fujiwara Keiji), and that’s because he really didn’t have much of an effect this episode, other than to get owned by Hampnie for trying to commit suicide by cop. Which was funny to me, so that’s okay.
- Speaking of…”Dammit, my clothes!” Those are some priorities right there, folks!
- D…Did she just trip over flat ground? Oh Ai-chan, you are way too cute for this world. Seriously. Don’t die.
- When Hampnie gives you a piggyback ride…don’t let Hampnie give you a piggyback ride. It won’t end well.
- I really do like some of the camera angles in this show. And whoever they have on the lens flare? That guy is having a blast.
For more from yours truly, check out my blog on writing, art, and the book I’m working on at stiltsoutloud.com.