「これは絵なのだろうか?」 (Kore wa Ena Nodarou ka?)
“Is This a Painting?”

We learn more about how the Daemonia came into being, but the story doesn’t progress much aside from snips of foreshadowing.

Monster of the Week

This week’s episode was eight minutes of necessary exposition plus a Daemonia-of-the-week plot that will probably end up being pretty meaningless in the end. On my latter charge, you could argue that Luna being able to hear the Daemonia and the widening rift between Akari and Seira will be sufficiently important, but all that didn’t seem to have quite enough oompfh for all the time we spent watching Okakura Kiyone’s (Hayami Saori) fall to darkness. I may be wrong about that, but it felt like, counter to some of the earlier episodes, this week we didn’t have enough going on, instead of far too much.

As for the necessary exposition/foreshadowing itself, they did introduce one of the agents of Cerebrum, a shadowy organization that collects human souls and is working with some politician who is undoubtedly going to regret his deal with the devil (makers) at some point. That’s about as obvious as realizing that things wouldn’t end will for the mean girl at the ~30 second mark of this episode. I think the really important part will be the talk of the Tree of Life, and the controlling thereof. I’m not a super tarot buff by any means, but combine that with the final scene from the ED, and trying to control the Tree of Life – and probably not just at an individual level, but on a much larger scale – is bound to be a central plot point later on.

Darkness, Atmosphere, Descent, Visuals

As I watched an episode that centered around the fall of what will probably end up being an unimportant character, I was thinking about what Gen’ei does really well. The visuals, for one. That’s what first drew me to this show, and they have not faltered, especially when they get abstract and darkly creative. What they do even better than that though, is evoke pain, madness, and atmosphere. The show never really gets happy-go-lucky, and is always mired in this low-grade horror that permeates everything, but it’s when they’re showing a character’s descent into madness that it really works. Art and art direction really are its greatest strengths, and while it’s not always as subtle as it could be, it gets me in the mood it wants me to be in every time.

Artistic Vision

Seeing as this was an episode about art, this is a good time to opine on what the central flaw of this show might end up being. I feel like it has all of the elements to be truly great, but it lacks one thing: the purity of vision gained through having a single, passionate artist driving the entire story. Stories cannot be made by committee, because if you try, you’ll end up with Guilty Crown. This series is already much better than that travesty – in fact, referencing Guilty Crown in a Gen’ei post does Gen’ei a great disservice – but I don’t get the sense of passionate vision that I get from stories like Mahou Shouto Madoka Magica or my favored Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo. Those are works of genius – flawed genius, perhaps, but genius nonetheless – where I could feel Shinobu and Kamoshida-sensei’s personality and vision in every single scene, every single thing that happened. Gen’ei strikes me as a story where a few writers sat down and worked together to try to make the best story they could. Don’t get me wrong, that’s a great way to make an anime; it’s just not the best way to make the story underlying it. It lacks heart, simplicity, vision, and above all, the flaws that give a story character.

Another thought: Some people have said that this is too much like Madoka, which shows a lack of awareness of the many other stories that Gen’ei echoes (and Madoka did before it). Still, I can definitely see how Gen’ei could have come about because some executive saw how popular (and profitable) Madoka was and said, “Hey, we can do that too.” I have no problem with that – part of being an artist is taking ideas you like from other stories and fashioning them into something new – but without that singular artistic vision, it starts to seem exploitative. If it works, all is forgiven. If it’s merely okay…well, we’ll see. There’s still a lot of the season left to go.

Note: None of this is to say that I’m not enjoying Gen’ei! It’s just, if Gen’ei doesn’t live up to its potential, I bet these will be the reasons. As I said before, we’ll see.

Looking Ahead – A Clash of Opinions

Akari and Seira aren’t getting along because they both have deeply held beliefs, but it looks like the next episode will (probably) be about Ginka, who is self-aware enough to know that she doesn’t have anything of the sort. She’s the one who has gotten the least development so far, so I’ll be excited to see what her major malfunction ends up being.

tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Necessary exposition & foreshadowing combined with a largely unimportant monster of the week #geneitaiyou

Random thoughts:

  • One thing I really enjoy about this show is that it presents all these different philosophies, but doesn’t really pass judgement one way or the other. At best, it shows which ones will drive you into darkness. Sometimes the antagonists are even right! Ex: when the daemonia accused Akari of “just trying to make yourself feel better!” Exactly, unequivocally right.
  • Another example: “Anyone can change the future to their liking, depending on their outlook.” That’s true, just not the way this guy meant it. Outlook matters a lot. I suggest a positive one, myself.
  • Another example was when Seira was talking about how weak people don’t matter, and should just be eliminated. Even if you’re strong, even if others are weak, that doesn’t mean they don’t have a right to exist. We’re better than that. Modern humanity can do better than a barbaric survival of the fittest.
  • Two innocents dead and a building on fire before they finally get the alarm. They really need a better detection system.
  • NOTE: I’ll be out of town next weekend, so Zephyr is going to be covering episode five. Though to be honest, he’s been helping with this show all season so far, so be sure to thank him an extra lot! Zephy saikyou!

For more from yours truly, check out my blog on writing, art, and the book I’m working on at stiltsoutloud.com.

Full-length images: 20.




  1. The need for a better detection system seems more like a fundamental flaw that really, really hurts their overarching goal than something only worth noting in passing. It’s pretty appalling that those animals running the show think missions with a minimum death count of one (the daemonia itself) is an acceptable status quo.

    1. To elaborate: it’s not in every magical girl show that innocents get killed every. single. week. With all the tragedy seen up to this point, you’d really expect the people in charge to be searching for a better way to do things. As far as I can tell, they aren’t. Their indifference is rather disturbing, actually.

    2. I’m not surprised, actually. It sounds like they’ve been fighting the Daemonia long enough that the old veterans probably don’t believe there’s a better way to do things anymore.

      I’ll give you a real world example: on US roads there were 25,580 deaths in 2012. ~70 people die each day, every day, just so life can be more efficient and convenient. The thought of eliminating car deaths is so hard to believe that most people have stopped trying, and they just accept some deaths as the price for the society/world we live in.

      This is the same thing. They cannot fathom a solution to the problem because, in all likelihood, everything they’ve tried has failed. They’ve just accepted the reality as they see it and are doing the best they can.

  2. I’m going to guess the massive delay here in finding the daemonia was because the guy with the hood was responsible for basically selling the girl her daemonia, as opposed to the random infections we’ve seen so far. Maybe that made everything stealthier. Unless of course he or an associate have always been selling the daemonia and it was never random at all, in which case, nice plot hole.

    For Seira, I’m now guessing that the girl in the flashback was a friend that either got possessed by a daemonia and was Seira’s first kill, similar to Akari, or (an this would be a very interesting direction that I doubt they’ll go), Seira herself was possessed to some degree and killed her friend before she was somehow purged, resulting in Seira hating herself. The second is highly unlikely as it would really give weight to the idea that daemonia can be saved, which everyone has been calling complete BS on all season.

    Anyway, another decent episode. Still too soon to say if I like this show, but I like Akari and Luna 🙂

  3. Their indifference come from the fact that no one had ever found a better way after all those millenia of fighting, thus people stopped bothering. And then here comes a gamebreaker character like Akari bringing a new hope and all hell break loose before the light appears in the end of the tunnel.

    1. Well, it was considerate of him to not wear a shirt under that cloak. I’m guessing that his manipulative charisma doesn’t hurt either, if you’re into the villainous type.
      A guy’s gotta make his screen time count, when he’s working opposite a mostly female cast.

  4. After re-watching the episode, I decided to check which cards were used in our victim’s transformation, since it went by awfully fast. The card that was switched started as 11 – Justice (11 is sometimes the number for Strength, but the picture matches Justice), and it changed to 15 – the Devil.
    Tarot is all about interpretation, but to boil those cards down to a single word, Justice would represent something like “rationality”, and the Devil would be “temptation” – as I understand them. Without digging too deep, the implications should be fairly obvious – completely discarding all restraint. It fits with what the snakelike (note the hood) fortune-teller said as he roped in his new recruit:
    “Just be honest about your feelings.”
    “People try to stay straight as an arrow, but that’s not always right.”
    “At times, I believe that it’s natural for a person to be true to their desires.”

    Seeing as how the use of Tarot cards almost automatically means the inclusion of abundant, readily accessible symbolism, I’m surprised I only started checking the cards (for the Daemonia, the heroines have all their stuff straight-up explained) before now.
    …I’m going to have to re-watch the first three episodes now.

    1. I recognized the Justice and Devil cards but only because I’ve seen the full 23 card deck their using in the show. I also find it interesting that the deck was altered for the Daemonia. Not just the faces where blacked out but also the colour are richer and darker (think Gothic/Victorian colour palette) compared the decks used my the girls.

      Last weeks card was the Hanged Man but it was the first time they showed the cards true face as it was cover by the Daemonia card back marker previously for the monsters.

      If that had to pick a time to do a simple episode this the best time though. It allows us to see what a noraml occurence it like with a typically reaction to the situation. I don’t expect this to happen again though, it just jarring after so much info in the first 3 bu ti think they did it this way to sort of see how it all fits together.

  5. Including the Quabala’s Tree of Life took me by surprised. I didn’t think they were going to add that in cause that’s extremely advanced Tarot study. Just to put it mildly, you can study the context of the Tree of Life diagram without even incorporating the Tarot. Adding in the Tarot adds a whole new layer to the Tree of Life.

    As beautiful as Tree of life they made on the chalkboard, it’s not entirely an accurate representation of it. There are three paths missing in this version of the drawing making it a total of 19 paths between the circles instead of the twenty-two it’s suppose to have. I will have to admit adding in the three paths it’s suppose to have would clutter the drawing and take away it’s elegance.

  6. Well the only thing I can say about this episode is that that makes two blue haired magical girls voiced by Kitamura Eri that I don’t like.
    Still liking the show though and the descent to madness made this episode worth watching for me.

  7. Oh well, some questions are answered – and in a frighteningly ruthless fashion!
    Daemonia, besides natural splitting up, are propagated by “cursed” tarot cards – but there are some individuals who actually try and use them for their own goals, dabbling in an art better left alone!
    While we can see it takes conscious act – although definitely one influenced by deception – namely, accepting the cursed card from the hooded fortuneteller – to get “infected”, at the very end we see someone in position of “money and power” is actually using the Daemonia for targetted killings of people he deems “in his way”.
    Other spotlight is Akari vs Seira with their outlook on the Daemonia: empathic will to listen versus cold judgement. It seems while Akari took her friends fall as something she could have averted with more human contact, Seira keeps a grudge against someone from her past who fell to Daemonia… I want to know more on that story!

  8. “Even if you’re strong, even if others are weak, that doesn’t mean they don’t have a right to exist. We’re better than that. Modern humanity can do better than a barbaric survival of the fittest.”

    Apparently, people in another modern (or more like future) version of humanity do not seem to share your thoughts. I am looking at you Galactic Alliance! (Suisei no Gargantia)

    1. To be fair, people IRL don’t share my thoughts on that. I just hold us – and them – to a higher standard than that. I expect us to be more than savages, because we don’t need to be anymore.

      1. furthermore, the criteria of what strong and useful humans are can be quite misleading…
        exhibit A:
        alcoholic, twice bankrupt, failed at every job he tried…
        until he got back into military, went to win campaign, then entire war
        Ulysses Grant.

  9. “I feel like it has all of the elements to be truly great, but it lacks one thing: the purity of vision gained through having a single, passionate artist driving the entire story.”

    I’m not so sure about that. To be fair, I haven’t watched quite enough bad animes to judge it is that makes one bad, but what I felt turned this actually-not-too-bad story was just the execution of it all. It felt like all the moments which should have been impactful (and would be in better anime) just weren’t: take, for instance, Fuyuna’s death in episode one. Early deaths are all fine and good, and they did give ample time to characterise Fuyuna before killing her off, but her death itself was ridiculously anticlimatic. Cool-looking fight with monster, Fuyuna lying on the floor in a pool of blood, next shot, move on. I’m not criticising the ostensible reset that happened after her death – IMO, that was actually one of the highlights of the episode – but rather how little impact her death was given. Same goes for basically all of the deaths in the show. These are human lives, after all. The production committee could at least do them the respect of a strong death. Urobuchi may get criticised for killing characters simply for shock value (a sentiment I heartily disagree with), but even his haters have to admit there is impact in his deaths; and that’s because his characters’ lives matter.

    In Gen’ei, they don’t seem to matter all that much. Maybe that’s deliberate. I don’t know.

    But even with all that, I have to say that I find myself eagerly anticipating each new episode, if only so that I can hate on it some more.

    That just sounded really harsh. Wow. I like the fight scenes too, okay? If the series was made more for the fight scenes than the plot that’d actually be fine by me, because they do that so much better than anything else.


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