「死に手《サクリファイス》」 (Shini-te “Sakurifaisu”)
This series is like a love song to humanity.
Clammy Can’t Believe It, Still
I’m really not sure what Clammy’s role in this story is going to be. I pride myself on being able to anticipate these things, but she’s not conforming to the pattern I expected. Actually, that’s not right – I still expect her to join back up with the rest of Imanity eventually, and I’m sure she’ll have some role in either defeating the Elves or bringing them to Imanity’s side (or one then the other). They’re sowing the seeds for the Elf arc early though, and I guess I’m not used to stories paying so much attention to foreshadowing. That’s something I could get used to.
There’s one thing I know absolutely, though – for Clammy to join back up with Imanity, she’s going to have to get over her misconception that Kuuhaku is being backed by another race. For now, that’s hard. Her pride demands that she not believe Imanity can go it alone, because then her act of giving up on Imanity, on her own people, would have been wrong, perhaps even unforgivable. Now she’s convinced herself that the Warbeasts backed Sora & Shiro. I look forward to seeing her reaction when they beat the Eastern Federation. Perhaps the Clammy/Elf arc is coming up next.
The Games of the Warbeasts
I enjoyed the game theory when they talk about how the Warbeasts expanded their territory. If you remember from our list back in episode two, the Warbeasts are #14, putting them a paltry two spaces higher than last place Imanity. That means it’s reasonable to surmise they’re not the magical powerhouses of the #7 Elves or the #6 Flugel. Yet their country is the third largest in the world. Then there’s the fact that they can supposedly read minds, but they make opponents wager their memories of their games if they lose.
This doesn’t add up, as Sora rightly notes. If you have such an unstoppable advantage, it’s better to show vulnerability in order to draw enemies in and then trounce them. It’s a classic bait tactic – make people think you’re weak, and they can beat you if they just try one more time…and then take them for everything they have. If they’re really so strong, why not dangle the bait and profit from their power? Something doesn’t add up.
Idiot King, Wise King/b>
I cringed when Sora despaired and really lit into the old king. Saying that Steph’s beloved grandfather was stupid, that he lost all that territory for nothing…I agree with Shiro, he went too far. Steph…
Then we were shown Steph’s key. I wish this had been hinted at earlier, just as I wish Jibril’s existence was hinted at earlier (though she was first glimpsed back in episode four, so that was actually okay), but I’ll give them a pass because where it led showed worked well here.
The Potential of Humanity
For hikikomori NEETs who openly despised their fellow human beings, its been a bit of a stretch to think that they suddenly cared about their fellow Imanity in Elkia, a stretch which I honestly barely thought of until now because I was having too much fun. Sora revealing that he doesn’t believe in humanity, and that most humans are stupid, lowly creatures – the same thing Jibril still thinks of all Imanity save her masters, though she’s been polite enough to keep that unspoken this episode, mostly – felt right. So why? Why does he want to help Elkia?
Because of Shiro. Not for Shiro – she’s not as weak as that – but because of the potential in humanity that Shiro represents to him. Sora believes that while most normal humans are worthless, people like Shiro can do great things. Humanity didn’t believe it could fly before it did. Humanity didn’t believe it could go to space until someone figured out how. We strap rockets to ourselves, eradicate entire diseases, and connect ourselves together with people on the other side of the planet through a web of electronics that talk in the blink of an eye! Maybe not all of us can do that, but there’s immense potential in humanity. Not in each of us, but in all of us.
That’s what Sora believes in, and the genius Shiro is the one who made him believe again. I wish we got to see more of Shiro being a genius personally, though the nature of these games (and the interpersonal battlefield they are) puts most of them more in Sora’s court. What’s for sure is that this entire series is like a love song to humanity. We’re weak, stupid, worthless, foolish, insane, flawed, and filled with the limitless potential to accomplish nearly anything we set our eyes on. That’s worth fighting for.
The Gambler King
“It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.” – Sun Tzu
One of the greatest strengths one can cultivate is self-awareness. Steph’s grandfather was said to be an idiot king, one who lost most of Imanity’s territory and drove it to the brink, but he certainly knew himself. He knew he was not skilled in games, and that he could not do much to aid Imanity on his own. Knowing that, he could have sat there, challenging no one and accepting no challenges throughout his reign, and leaving his successor with the same kingdom he inherited. He chose a different path.
“Know thy enemy”. Imagine what would have happened if Sora & Shiro couldn’t prepare for their game against Jibril? No matter their skill, I doubt they would have been able to come up with that plan on the fly. The Warbeasts wiping everyone’s memories had the potential to force them to do exactly that.
Except for the old king. He gave up “worthless” land – so not worthless at all, but worthless to Imanity at their current technology level – to learn the Warbeasts’ game, and the Warbeasts let him keep his memories for exactly the reason Sora was wondering about, to bait the old king into challenging them by showing vulnerability. They also underestimated last place Imanity, because they let the old king keep his memories, only making it so he couldn’t tell anyone for as long as he lived. But books last beyond death.
I love the idea that the old king was a gambler as well. What a silly gamble! He lost most of his country’s territory to uncover an enemy’s weaknesses, then he put it up to chance that the next king would be a human who could win without the backing of another country. What a vanishingly small chance he had of snatching victory from beyond the grave!
But sometimes, fool gambles come through. The old king’s perfect successors are here, and he’s given them the key to beating the Warbeasts at their own game. Sora & Shiro now know their enemy, and they damn well know themselves. Beware, Kemonomimi Empire! Kuuhaku is coming for you!
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – The old idiot king was a gambler after all, & his gamble came through. This is a love song to humanity #nogenora 07
- That shampoo is a little worrisome. I-I don’t think this is supposed to be that kind of anime, Jibril!
- Steph may be Dola-chan, but it’s Jibril that has all of the neat
- Jibril is right – Steph was ordered to fall in love, not stay in love. The rest is aaaall her.
- Flirty Feel-chan, teasing Feel-chan HNNNNG~!!
- Op, op, op, op – Oppa Gendo Style!
- Ani Shock! Related: Did you catch how Sora met Shiro for the first time eight years ago, when she was three? Ufufu… (Use spoiler tags if you want to guess/already know what that means.)
- It’s a donut massacre! Shinobu is not pleased.
- Stop enjoying yourself so much, Jibril. You’re scaring the kids. Also, me.
- There’s a lesson here in the old king’s actions – it’s too easy to assume he was just an idiot. Look further and understand people’s actions, especially when someone has already proven themselves wise in at least some ways.
- It’s interesting that Sora sees himself as normal. The greats rarely see themselves as great, or even if they do, it’s only by dint of great effort – in his case, keeping up with Shiro.
Check out my blog about storytelling and the novel I’m writing at stiltsoutloud.com. The last four posts: The fear of doing nothing; Personifying your muse; This doesn’t belong; and Your muse is a lie.
Full-length images: 03.