What’s better than Akatsuki? More Akatsukis!
Kiting the Boss Around Town
Rieze’s plan was a clever one. Rather than group all twenty-six people together and try to burn Nelreth down through overwhelming firepower—which probably wouldn’t have worked because he could have just teleported if he got into too much trouble, plus it would have buffed his stats out the wazoo—she had whoever encountered him first drag Nelreth through a succession of kill zones, where small groups were waiting to beat him the hell up. Constantly bringing fresh fighters to bear until Nelreth had done too much damage was smart, though to be fair, if he were smarter (and didn’t stick to Akatsuki), it would have all gone to shit in no time. Mostly I just cheered when Rieze explicitly referred to what Akatsuki was doing as kiting. As someone who had to kite raid bosses in EQ more than once, I can tell you it’s harrowing as fuck, so good on you for taking it the whole way, Akatsuki.
Akatsuki’s Overskill, & the Truth About Overskills
It has been hinted at before, but the truth of the Overskills is revealed: they are, at their root, the application of spells and abilities in ways that weren’t possible when this was a game. What’s interesting is that they’re actually incorporated into the game framework, or the UI if you will. That makes them not so much hacks as an evolution of the system the adventurers are used to. Nazuna’s Divine Step is a great example—a creative use of existing mechanics to do something that wasn’t possible before. Though maybe she just learned it from her time with Illya.
The birth of Akatsuki’s overskill was one of those great “Fuck yeah!” moments. Combining her desire for speed with her Tracker skill Hide Shadow (and probably other stuff), she can create doubles that do damage when they attack. Akatsuki has never been the sneaky, baskstabbing kind of Assassin, so this one fits her well. Also, lots of Akatsuki-chans WOO!
Accepting Weakness, False Strength
Akatsuki’s narration about the nature of weakness and strength is fascinating, and I don’t think I can do it justice. The critical point is the difference between Akatsuki and Nelreth. They both started at the same place, thinking they needed something else—a weapon, in both of their cases—to obtain the power they desired. But as luck would have it, Akatsuki was too poor to buy the crutch, which meant she had to pursue another path.
Accepting one’s weaknesses is an invaluable skill, because once you realize how weak you are, your dissatisfaction fades away, and you can focus on becoming the best you you possibly can. Akatsuki realized she was weak. That doesn’t mean she stopped striving, but she did stop beating herself up about it, which is an unproductive pastime. Rather than raging against the world like Nelreth did, Akatsuki learned to accept her inadequacies, and so quelled, at least in part, her jealousy of Minori. She refined herself, practiced her skills, and in the moment when she needed to take it up another level, she rose to the challenge and achieved something great.
Look, I said I couldn’t do it justice. What I’ll say is that I’m a man who believes in the power of stories—they are what teach us how to be human. And in this episode, there’s a lesson that we should all take to heart. Rather than chase after tools to make our lives better, it’s best to see those as the crutches they are, and improve ourselves instead. Though granted, the tools can be nice too (I say as I type this on a computer). It’s a balancing act, just one we should all probably tilt toward self-development.
No Boys, New Blade, Broken Sword, Victorious Battle
In the comments last week, KaleRylan mentioned how the lack of guys in the twenty-seven maidens actually reflects a bit of general sexism. While it’s obvious why Shiroe and Krusty had to get out of the way for others to shine—their gender aside, those two are really damn competent—there was no reason why Soujirou, Nyanta, or others couldn’t help out as grunts under Rieze’s command. It wouldn’t even have changed the flow of things, it just would have swapped a few of the nameless characters out with ones we recognize. Or they even could have stayed as nameless characters, just male ones. Erh, male and not fabulous, that is. I’m all for girl power and the ladies getting the spotlight even more, but this backfired somewhat.
So that’s a bit of an annoyance. But past that, the whole battle was awesome! And the one good thing about not including Souji is that Nelreth got to live, whereas his sword did not. Which led to the best moment of the episode for me:
Reforged by Tatara, the blacksmith of Amenoma, for the personal use of a quiet, unsocial wielder. That this earnest girl may go forward without bending or breaking, repelling evil curses and this world’s tragedies, so that man may support blade, and blade support man.
I teared up y’all. That was beautiful. The friendship between them is beautiful, all the more because of the changes it has inspired in Akatsuki. Encore!
The Pajama Party of Victory & Shiroe
I had to laugh when the battle was over, and it went to … a pajama party. What! I guess that’s why Touno-sensei didn’t want more guys than just the one, which seems silly, but super perverted Henrietta makes up for a lot. And Akatsuki and Lenessia laughing together … hng~!
Looking Ahead – Back to Shiroe
Better yet—and second only to Tatara’s flavor text gift for best scene of the episode—was when Akatsuki spoke to Shiroe. She’s so cute when she’s nervous, and her calling him a “stiff blockhead” …. HNG~ / HAH! She’s more lively than she ever was before. Akatsuki has had her character development, so I’m looking forward to Shiroe reclaiming the spotlight, so we can get the other half of that dream conversation, and so they can eventually be reunited.
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Akatsuki kites the boss, finds her Overskill, and saves the day with the help of her friends. Friendship is beautiful ;_; #loghorizon s2e8
Check out my blog about storytelling and the novel I’m writing at stiltsoutloud.com. The last four posts: The allure of magic, Import, don’t recycle, Impostor syndrome, and Save it for your daydreams. For book updates, sign up for my mailing list.