「挑戦者《チャレンジャー》」 (Chousen-sha “Charenjaa”)
Uproariously funny, hilariously dysfunctional, and chillingly audacious – Sora & Shiro are unique protagonists, and they’re going to take this story far!
Rock, Paper, Scissors, You Lose!
Last episode some commenters were worried that the games wouldn’t be delved into properly, and we wouldn’t get to see exactly how Sora & Shiro whoop the competition. Well fear not! They’re not skimping when it comes to the important matches.
Here’s why I found the match between Sora and Steph so fascinating: it revealed a great deal about Steph’s character. One of Kurt Vonnegut’s eight rules for writing short stories is:
“Every sentence must do one of two things–reveal character or advance the action.”
This match accomplished the rare trick of doing both. Let’s dive into it a little bit.
In a typical match of jankenpon, where ties result in do-overs and the players continue until someone has won, each player has an approximately 50% chance to win. Here though, Sora modified the odds to seemingly give himself a 1-in-9 (11%) chance to win–but not really. He increased the odds in his favor in two ways. First, he rigged it so that there was one way for him to win and three ways for him to tie (a 4-in-9 chance, or 44%) because a tie would still result in a favorable outcome for them (a “small favor” from Steph). More than that though, Sora won because Steph let him define the playing field, which let him deemphasize the role of luck in the game.
That’s where the mind games came in. Him saying he’ll only play (and win) with paper was a red herring – he never intended to play paper unless he got a hint that Steph would be that stupid. Really the point was to maneuver Steph into making a decision that he could anticipate, and then use that to tie with her – which would in fact result in their victory, since the tie conditions were far more favorable to them. Side note: Sora implying that they wanted a place to stay, and then responding with that smile when Steph tried to confirm it, HAH! Beware of assumptions in front of magnificent bastards like Sora!
But the best thing was how this helped to define Steph’s character. Sora noticed and correctly anticipated that she was the type who played the odds, but Sora is the type who plays his opponent. A game of jankenpon among amateurs yields a roughly 50% chance of victory for either side, but among professionals – and yes, there are professionals – it’s a mind game. Steph played jankenpon and Sora played her, which revealed facets of both of their characters all in one go. Beautifully done!
“Fall in love with me!”
Ohhh man, I all by died laughing when Sora cracked out with his “small favor” – “Fall in love with me!” And Steph’s reaction, HAH! I expected this series to have a good sense of humor, but wow, I was blown away this episode. And once again, character was revealed. A lot of it, for that matter.
Here’s what I’m not sure about though – was this all according to their plan? Shiro scolded Sora like it was a mistake, pointing out that he should have just said “You belong to me”, but I don’t think what’s basically slavery is their style, no matter how often they risk selling themselves into it. No, I think they wanted to use Steph and get her on their side without degrading her, though probably Sora also wanted to see if the pledges would enforce Steph’s side of the bargain somehow. Oh, and have a shot at some oppai fondling, naturally. “Congratulations on graduating from being a virgin.” Oh my!
Sora Confirmed For Not A Siscon/Lolicon
When Shiro went “You said all you needed was me”, my first instinct was HNG~! I was curious whether they were going to take us down incest road after all, for just a second there…but nope, Sora was just putting up a front! Once again, I almost died laughing, because I can very much see Sora putting up a tough front up until he actually has a chance with another girl, in which case SCREW THAT OPPAI!!
But what about Shiro? Honestly, she’s an eleven-year-old girl. She’s too young to be interested in the kind of things she can’t do with her brother, so I think she only has eyes for him right now. Not romantically, just enough to be a little jealous when he’s paying attention to others too much. Don’t ruin your nii’s fun, Shiro!
Here’s the other big thing we learned – Sora and Shiro are heavily codependent one another. Heavily. Like they cannot function at all without being near one another. Sora curls up in a ball and becomes a groveling, apologetic shell of a man, whereas Shiro is deathly afraid of being left alone. I’ve said it before, but it’s even more apparent now – these two siblings are broken, perhaps beyond repair. They’ve grown up warped, and they may never truly recover from their scars. Last episode I jokingly wondered why Sora wasn’t a millionaire with his negotiating skills, but now the answer is painfully clear – if he doesn’t have his imouto next to him, he’s worse than useless, and she’s useless without him. That’s not something they could swing on Earth, but they can here.
The Next King of Imanity
I liked hearing more about the world and the 16 races (collectively known as the Exceed). So far we know about:
- The Old Deus, the gods who were defeated by the One True God. (That’s Tet.)
- The Phantasma.
- The Elementals.
- The Elves, who are good at magic and have made Elven Garde the largest nation on the planet.
- The Warbeasts.
- The Sirens.
- And last and currently least, Imanity, i.e. Humanity, pulling up the rear.
Did any of you get a little chill when you heard that we humans were the weakest of the 16 races? I draw a warped sense of pride from this, like when I read a sci-fi book where humans are ruthless, cunning, cutthroat bastards (trope! And also this one!), and use those attributes to whoop more advanced enemies. And in fact, this is more of a sci-fi trope (trope!), where humans suck compared to all the other races. Here it’s based on capacity for magic, where the first race – the Old Deus, of which Tet is the last member – has the greatest capacity, and Imanity down at #16 can’t even tell when magic is going on around them.
I’m so excited, I’m so excited, I’m so excited!! Unlike Mondaiji, where the No Names were on the ropes until the problem children were brought in to fight others at their own level, here the humans can’t match the other races’ magical abilities. Instead Sora and Shiro are going to have to use their own uniquely human style of cunning and skill to beat the others. Awesome!
Looking Ahead – “For now, I guess I’ll become king.”
First on Sora & Shiro’s list is Kurami Zell (Iguchi Yuka). Humanity is doomed if she becomes the king because she’s got someone who can use magic helping her, and that screams “puppet ruler!” to me. We may not get as much Steph being hilarious next time, but I think the games will be in proper form once again. I’m looking forward to it!
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – The codependent siblings win at jankenpon, grope oppai, freak out, take a bath, & decide to become king. All in a day’s play! #nogenora 02
- Jealous, conflicted Steph hnnnng~!!
- This show isn’t that ecchi – it hints a lot and is nice and bouncy, but it’s not so coarse as to make it more than a pleasant side dish – but some of the situations are downright diiirty. Case in point: Shiro pushed her nii-chan into a half-naked woman and then proceeded to take pictures and encourage him to go for the pantsu flash. I feel like we were thirty seconds away from a very different kind of show!
- Deredere domestic Steph hnnnng~!!!
- My guess is that Tet brought Sora and Shiro to this world because he doesn’t want to see any of the players forced off the board completely. The game will be a lot more fun if Imanity has some fight in it!
- Sometimes the safest risk is a big one. Sora and Shiro know that for sure.
- Did you notice how the Steph-o-Scope didn’t kick in during the last scene? I think that was the world’s way of showing that it no longer needed to feed Steph images of super-bishie Sora to encourage her love for him, in accordance with the bet. I think she’s already well down that road all on her own now.
ED: 「Oracion」 by Kayano Ai