「皇女の火遊び」 (Oujo no Hiasobi)
“The Princess Plays with Fire”

When the cat‘s away, the mice play around a bit but then drop it all and grow beards. …Why is this metaphor so weird?

Stilts likes subheadings

Welcome, Utawarerumono fans! I’m Passerby, sitting in for Stilts. He has been physically transported to an MMORPG world where’s he’s living out his dream life as a magical-fantasy-action-harem hero while moonlighting as a mecha pilot. He’ll return once he realises that this MMO is G-rated and has no whiskey.

I come from a slightly different perspective on Utawarerumono than Stilts; neither of us have finished the first anime, but I have played the game for that one (albeit a fair while ago). This means two things: I have a bit more knowledge of the lore, and I look at Itsuwari no Kamen as an adaptation of a videogame. This means that, although Itsuwari no Kamen has so far been woefully slow with establishing its central plot, I can guess at what kind of story it intends to be in the future based on the plot of the original and the kind of story that the genre of the game (tactical RPG) naturally lends itself to. It also helps that I turfed this show to Stilts after the pilot, so I didn’t have to worry too much about it and could just be content to wait. But of course, now that things seem to be kicking up a notch, I’m back! Mwahaha. It’s all gone according to my evil scheme—the best kind of scheme, where I don’t actually actively do anything.

A parody of itself

Itsuwari no Kamen hasn’t been all that serious save for occasional flashes of the deeper mystique of the setting. I dare say, though, that The Princess Plays with Fire is the silliest that Itsuwari no Kamen has gotten to date. My immediate impression of the episode was that it was a farce on every level. Think about it this way: in a fantasy story, or a tactical RPG, the princess being kidnapped, and rescuers fighting bandits, would be a completely legitimate subplot. Not here, though. Of course, the entire kidnapping threat was an act, but they couldn’t even take that seriously. The threatening letters were silly. The showdown was silly. Even the Greek chorus was silly. Why would you even bring the udon stand with you except to undermine the tension? Overtly, the princess’s scheme and the narrative itself was faux drama.

Or maybe it wasn’t!

I enjoyed the parody, but I was still hoping for a serious edge to come out of the entire charade, because when The Princess Plays with Fire I would be somewhat dissatisfied if she didn’t get burned. Our ray of hope for this was Oshutoru: as Ukon, he manages to be chill, but with the mask on Oshutoru, General of the Right, has no time for frivolities. And then… holy hand grenades, Batman, an honest-to-goodness fight scene! Wait, is this the right anime? Are we allowed to have one of those? Sure, Utawarerumono couldn’t help but deflate the fight as well, but it was genuinely exciting to see Haku go at it nonetheless. Game players are probably used to Haku fighting, but for anime-only folk this was likely a genuine ‘woah’ moment.

I may be reading too much into it, but I consider this development to be a turning point in the narrative. As the princess has her realisation about what’s at stake, I think it’s a reminder for the audience as well. Haku has involved himself with the highest echelons of Yamato’s ruling class. Kuon is a spy of sorts for a foreign power. There is serious business going on here, even though we might not have really seen the effects so far.

Aside: Dude, where’s my Kuon?

The other reason for which I interpreted a shift in tone this episode was because of a notable subdued role for Kuon. Now, I enjoy her character greatly, but I suspect that her initial role is done. For this first half of Utawarerumono: Itsuwari no Kamen, Kuon had to basically carry the show, because the protagonist, Haku, certainly wasn’t going to do it. Haku is a very passive type (and also, game-wise, the player avatar), Kuon has to be the opposite and push Haku around. And through all the world building, the character introductions, and slice-of-life bits, Kuon has to as cute, fun, and naked as much as possible as the main fulfiller of the entertainment quota.

But now, I think, Haku has shown himself of stepping up to the plate and be a protagonist in more than just his snark (amusing though it is). And, if my predictions about the plot finally getting ‘serious’ is right, it’s now time to shoo out the clowns (trope!), so the ‘fun’ has to start taking a backseat. Still, probably not entirely, and Kuon is still the heroine so I’m sure she’ll find a dramatic role for herself easily enough.

Looking ahead ~ Stilts returns without a liver

I was equal parts entertained and impressed by this episode; I found it both funny and rather neat in execution. It was like a play within a play within a play, nesting each of its acts within each other—that’s Hamlet level stuff. Therefore, I will be slightly disappointed if the next episode does not match up to this one, especially since it’s tasked with closing out this cour of Utawarerumono. It seems that Haku has at last assembled the last of his party and we should be good to go. Unless the last two are to be introduced next week? But if it’s the cryptic twins then we’re still getting closer to the plot.

Of course, the possibility exists that I am absolutely wrong about everything, which is where I put my money most of the time. But, hey, I can speculate as wildly as I like since I won’t be here next week! I’ll let Stilts-senpai sort it out. Mwahahahaha.

tl;dr: @PasserbyRC – I created a Twitter account just to do this parody #utawarerumono s2e11

Random thoughts:

  • The other effect of not having blogged this show since the pilot: I don’t remember anyone’s names. Lots of referencing was done for this post.
  • When did Haku become so physically competent? He’s been level grinding off-screen.
  • Your love is doomed, princess. As far as the gallery is concerned, Ukon x Haku is OTP.
  • Nice detail showing Haku carrying his metal fan with him this episode. I should have noticed the Chekhov’s Gun (trope!) earlier.

Passerby hasn’t written a novel, but over at The Stranger’s Room, the last four posts: Play this Game – Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky, A short story: part 1, Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void – More is Less, and Don’t Call Me a Pirate, Call Me a… Corsair.




  1. This was remarkably moving.

    I get it.
    I was my fault.
    I’ll never do anything like this again, so don’t say that!
    If the nation’s defender was lost because of me…
    How could I face my father, or the people?
    I beg you!
    Please, continue to serve me and help me!

    -Anju, Princess of Yamato

  2. passerBy is right in saying that the anime will get more serious sooner or later (probably in a couple of episodes…) But for all those who miss Uta season 1 and Hakuoro with his comgrades, and still have some hope to something like what you enjoyed seeing in the anime season1, I have a warning. Do not expect too much.

    Even when our main MC get involved with serious troubles, he will still remain somehow passive character.
    What if a war happens? A spooilerish answer : Show Spoiler ▼


    How he regain his memory? A little spooilerish answer: Show Spoiler ▼

    So even when things get serious, what you will get tastes quite different from those you get from Anime S1.

  3. The beginning and end of this episode were excusable, the rest was horrible. In the beginning we know that Nosuri and Anju are incapable of higher thought, so the stupidity of the plan gets a pass. The end when Ukon goes for Haku was great since it hinted at things to come and finally made everyone in the cast aside from Haku realize they had spent the episode being complete and utter morons which I enjoyed immensely. Yes, that includes the three girls, and here’s why: they should have known enough to never let things go this far.

    Atui and maybe Rurutie aside, Kuon got stuck with the Idiot Bat this week. Sure she couldn’t have known that Nekone and the brother would force Ukon into action, but sending Haku alone was the pinnacle of idiotic, something that she’s never been shown to be. These three should’ve also been able to understand much better how delicate the situation really was considering who they are, or did the writers forget they were also princesses? It should’ve be Kuon and Haku dragging Atui along with Rurutie behind, not Kuon unable to believe what’s she’s hearing when Ukon offers his life as penance, since Anju unknowingly laid the blame for the entire incident on him.

    So yeah, the thought but into this episode was bad. You could definitely feel the hand of the writers as they said “we need Haku neutralized so this can play out, so let’s ditch Kuon”. I also don’t believe this is over, as the one thing the stupid boat episode did was establish Ukon isn’t of noble birth, so this is a perfect chance for a general who isn’t happy with that or can’t forgive this incident(or both) to step in and take him out. Well, at least he seems to have a plan in mind for that continuity.

    1. Eh, was it really that bad? I didn’t mind it as much as you. Some points.

      1. I liked the implicit faith in Haku. It showed growth.

      2. The other ‘princesses’ aren’t the same kind as Anju. They are just blue bloods. Anju is the heir to the empire.

      3. Things were never supposed to escalate this far, and indeed, were only just fun and games that would have fizzled by itself regardless. Oshutoru, it seemed to me, only moved to reign the thieves in and to teach Anju a clear lesson (and test Haku along the way).

      4. The lesson to be taught was one that only Oshutoru and Haku really understood, which was why there was surprise about Oshutoru’s bluff (I’m pretty sure it was a bluff). Anju bears the entire country on her shoulders. As you can probably tell, the other princesses are just upper crust ladies with no day jobs, so to them it’s, again, fun and games. But Anju, and Anju alone, cannot afford to play games. Which is a sad lesson to be imparting to a child, hence the seriousness with which Oshutoru treated it.

      1. I think I’ll like it more once I’m over the initial “WTF WAS THAT?!” cool-down. It was fine until I saw the three girls eating noodles after Nekone had gone off on her own. They had no sense of urgency, which I get because they never take anything seriously, but think about it: they sent Haku to get Anju back, when Anju and Nosuri were on the same side. That was never going to work because Haku’s strength is his logic, and there was never a chance that either of them would hear him out. So they basically threw him out the door and said “Don’t care, not our problem.” Atui, sure, but Kuon and Rurutie? It breaks a lot of the little characterization we’ve gotten for them.

        You also brought up my point on the three: they know who Anju is, how important she is, so what was up with the “Don’t really care” attitude? Even if they are “minor” princesses(don’t really buy that for Kuon, given who raised her), Kuon at least should’ve been on the same wavelength as Haku in realizing that this could turn into a major incident if not handled right, and there was no way Nosuri was going to handle it right. We’ve already seen that she’s pretty much deaf to everyone’s thoughts but her own.

        And yeah, things could’ve and should’ve fizzled, but then Oshutoru moved. Not sure who to blame for this since I feel bad to put it on Nekone when Nosuri’s brother seems to be pretty smart but just a major siscon. It’s good to think that Oshutoru had a lesson planned, but that doesn’t change that by moving he legitimized the whole thing. They could’ve waved it off, but once he got there everything became fact. It’ll be nice if it can still be swept under the rug, but somehow I doubt it will be. I also don’t think he was bluffing: he’s grooming Haku for something, and I wouldn’t totally bet against it being Haku taking up his mask if something happens to him. If Anju hadn’t gotten the message, I think he really would’ve killed himself. He loves the county and the people, so if he has to go that far to make sure they have a decent princess who takes the law and the world seriously, I think he’d do it.

      2. @Aex
        Without her full backstory, it’s hard to say, but I don’t think Kuon is on Anju’s level either. No matter how self-sufficient and independent she may be, the heir to the throne is not free to go wandering in another country with no bodyguards or contact outside of the inn.

      3. @Aex
        Funnily enough, what threw you off was what I liked most about this episode. The entire kidnapping plot was treated as a farce, both by the characters and by the greater narrative. That’s why all the girls were just sitting around eating noodles, even at the showdown; the silliness was a clear signal that we shouldn’t be taking this all that seriously either. That is, until Oshutoru makes his play and slams the breaks on the farce. To me, that was saying, of both Anju and the plot of Itsuwari no Kamen, that we’re done with our fun. Or mostly done, anyway.

        See, Itsuwari no Kamen could easily have played the entire arc as a comedy, and ended the kidnapping humorously and light-heartedly. Instead, they went for drama and, as you say, ‘legitimised’ the whole arc just as Oshutoru did for the kidnapping. The parallels tickled me immensely. Again, it’s a play within a play within a play. That may just be my interpretation alone, but I found it clever.

        I agree with you about Oshutoru; if Anju ‘called his bluff’ so to speak, I think it will have forced his hand (and then our story careens suddenly into tragedy). At the same time, though, that would probably make Haku do something too, so who knows how that would turn out? In fact, I feel that’s exactly why Haku is there; the girls didn’t send him there to resolve the incident (since it was supposed to be a minor thing that fizzled out itself), but to keep the worst from happening. Haku’s a smart guy, and he works best under pressure (or rather, only works at all under pressure). He makes for a fine safety valve.

        (I’m keeping pretty good odds on Ukon dying anyway (along with the emperor), though, so eh)

      4. @Passerby: I get what you’re saying. I still don’t like it, but I got that that’s what was going on. I’ve never found a single fake-kidnapping arc to be funny, though, so it was automatically lost on me, plus a nice checklist that should’ve been telling everyone not to treat the whole thing so lightly:

        -Anju is the heir to the Empire (Haku at least gets this)
        -her kidnapper is a moron and a once-bandit-still-theif (again, Kuon and Rurutie should know this much)
        -her kidnapper’s brother seems to be the kind of guy that’ll just go with his sister’s bad ideas.
        -the whole point is to draw out a very public and powerful figure and get into a fight with him
        -the kidnappers didn’t know who Anju was, so who knows what they’ll do when they find out
        -they know how spoiled Anju is, so even assuming they never thought Oshutoru would go, it’s risky to just assume she’ll just give up and go home instead of trying something else that they don’t know about(i.e. No one dependable was keeping an eye on her. Again, she was never going to listen to Haku.)

        So yeah, to me at least, this wasn’t a simple “Haku, go get it done” thing. That was just massively irresponsible and short-sighted. There’s always something that goes wrong in a kidnapping–it’s practically a law of the universe–and in a series where people die I just spent the whole episode waiting for the other boot to drop.

      5. Is it so odd that Kuon doesn’t grasp the seriousness of the situation? Keep in mind that Show Spoiler ▼

        Now let’s recall some of the things that happened in the environment in which she was raised:

        (first Utawarerumono spoilers)
        Show Spoiler ▼

        I think Kuon, of all people, has a good excuse to not realize how out of hand the situation can become.

        Incest Emblem
      6. @Incest Emblem: While true, every major incident except the third one had someone reliable nearby with the authority to pull the plug if things got out of hand. Haku was the closest thing to that here, and how that was going to turn out was obvious. That all also happened long before she was born, so even if she heard stories, I doubt no one ever told her that kidnapping has consequences. She wasn’t even there, so it’d be dumb of her to just go “it’ll work out”. At best she severely overestimated Haku for no real reason, given who was involved.

      7. @PasserBy: I see. Maybe I had to pay a more little attention to the part, “a fair while ago”.

        I won’t say anymore about your predictions as I’m afraid that it will be actually some spoilers.
        Just one thing. As predictions, they are pretty interesting.

      8. Neither confirm nor deny! Neither confirm nor deny! I speculate based only on conventions of the genre. I’m going to spoiler-tag one of your comments because it makes things way too easy. And I’ve edited the post a bit to make it clear what I meant.

  4. Unexpected, but enjoyable. They managed to get a very serious situation and combine it with what could only be described as comic relief characters. The unexpected fact was that they actually acknowledged it as being a serious situation. Oshutoru tried so hard to prevent it from getting serious. Though the conclusion baffles me a little. Why have Haku keep an eye on them? I thought his position was in the “We won’t acknowledge any relation to you” category. (But I guess he is hanging around with a bunch of princesses.)

    Nosuri and Ougi. First I thought they were imperial agents. Then it turned out they were just noble thieves. But then Oshutoru was very confident in their loyalty to the empire. Just who the heck are these siblings? Even though they’re just comic relief characters, these two interest me a lot more than the rest of Haku’s party.
    Gotta love Nosuri’s reaction when she realized what she did.

    Speaking of RPGs, I know from the opening that Nosuri is an archer, but what is Ougi? Seems proficient in using bows, but in episode three he carried a pair of short swords. Don’t really remember a class like that in the original game.

    I guess two more episodes until we realize what the main plot is about.

  5. Honestly I think this was the worst episode of the show so far. Parts of this was painful to watch and I just wanted to skip it.

    The end somewhat salvaged it. Basically smacking Anju in the face with the reality of her stupidity. At the same time….I don’t think we needed this. Unless this incident has major consequences it was just not necessary. I mean we’re talking people actively plotting to overthrow the nation out of the terrified idea of Anju ruling over this country some day. That’s just terrifying.

    It’s like the whole cast got made stupid. What the heck was Kuon’s group doing? Even if it’s a farce, the heir to the nation has been kidnapped. Kuon at least should be intelligent enough to know this isn’t a joke. All of them just sending Haku off to deal with it when they should have gotten up and got moving. Nekone as well. That girl is supposed to be fairly intelligent herself. Did she never even think about the consequences of sending an army out after Anju? Clearly not, but she probably should have.

    Just not an enjoyable episode.

    1. It’s a shame you didn’t enjoy it more. As with Aex above, if the central comedic conceit didn’t win you over then the entire episode is going to fall apart for you, which is unfortunate.

      I do think that the entire affair is actually going to be fairly defining moment in hindsight, but of course that’s only how I see it and I’ll save my speculation. Suffice to say, the fact that Haku played a personal role in shaping the future-empress will not be insignificant.

    2. Honestly, I think this is gonna come back around on either Anju or Oshutoru and keep them locked down at a really bad time. Or, like I said, someone’s gonna use it to get him executed anyway.

  6. Oh well, if even Stilt gave up on this, while faking or not, it really sums it all up to epic fail.
    And no, that cheap overemphasized drama didn’t work well just after you play an overemphasized farce like for two full episodes. It just looked so much forced.

  7. This “Filler” was there to teach our little Child Princess, not to miss use the Power she wields. a decision out of an prank, could cost someones life. She learn the hard way, what “power” she has. Like Haku explained (in a good way. that even an Kid understand), and the General play along. Yes all play along, even the normal foot soldiers.

    This 2 Episodes was more an lesson for “use your Power wisely” the little Princess. Also this show her that she is not alone, there are peoples that look for her… This female general as example 🙂

    1. My Try to give my idea Pictures and Mind
      Show Spoiler ▼

  8. Haku had a plenty of chances to inform Nosuri of who Anju really is, but missed all of them.
    Given that he has been shown to be a reasonably smart guy (even though he is a little lazy), really hard to make sense of it.
    Maybe, the scriptwriter of the anime does not care about plausibility of story at all.

  9. this show is so worth it just for the the priceless faces:
    Nosuri when she realizes who she really “kidnapped”
    Anju when she sees her “guardian” is about to give her deserved spanking
    Nekone doing shipping

  10. I’ve been a bit surprised by how much flak this episode has gotten. Personally, I think it’s the best episode since episode six. I get that people want the show to get moving -I’ve been wanting that for a while myself -but this was at least highly entertaining, and it had some good character development to boot. Way better than the awful episode seven or pointless episode nine.

  11. Finally got around to this, and have to say my delay in watching was not in error. Yeah, quite possibly the worst episode to date in a series which hasn’t been all that strong IMO to begin with. I’ll try to avoid excessive repetition, but frankly, the bulk of my issues with this series so far remain perfectly intact. I’ve mentioned previously that I think this series struggles to integrate “series” with “comedy”, and this episode reinforced that impression in spades – assuming I’m actually supposed to take anything seriously at all (which I didn’t).

    I agree with comments that essentially how well this episode went depends upon how well the “comedy” resonated with the viewer. Mentioned that before as well, and it’s no truer than for this episode. For me, silly, yes. Funny, no. Honestly, watching this episode was like watching a bad high school play, and any intent to do so did not make things better. If anything, it weakened any attempt for “serious”. This show isn’t able to switch gears like that (few can – and in general, it’s not good storytelling anyway IMO).

    Once again, the show sticks with its bread crumbs of development per episodes mantra, I suppose there was some “character development” in that Anju learns a lesson obvious to everyone but herself, but was that really, really worth two episodes? And what of her unrequited “love”? Such a big, BIG deal made of that, and it just gets tossed aside at the end (NOTE: I didn’t expect the two to hook up obviously, but something addressing that – “I appreciate your feelings Hime, but age difference, blah, blah.” Something). Meh. Oh, almost forgot. Haku got a couple of baka subordinates. Fair enough I suppose. Those menial jobs aren’t going to finish themselves you know.

    As for Haku’s sudden combat prowess, that seemed like a bit of ass-pull to me – especially since he’s been shown to be so combat inept (and non athletic) repeatedly in the past. I guess there’s some sort of Karate Kid thing going on where doing all those odd jobs are just a surreptitious way to train him in martial arts. >_> Wax on, wax off Haku. Granted, Oshutoru did have a one-off line about how Haku is “getting better” (hinting at some off screen training), but that’s still insufficient IMO. Sorry, but I found Haku’s sudden combat prowess jarring.

    I honestly liked Anju when she was first introduced, but I can’t say that these past two episodes helped to solidify that impression. Frankly, this “plot” didn’t help with my impressions of the bulk of the cast for that matter. Too much carrying the “idiot ball”. I get it, it’s “comedy”, but see above how said “comedy” isn’t working for me. If this show wants to revolve around wacky, silly comedy hijinks (which it sure seems to do a lot), then just run with that 100%. Go full blown Dog Days or something.

    TL:DR = More “meh” than probably any other episode thus far. My interest is starting to wane, show. 🙁

  12. I think I put in some effort into watching “Utawarerumono” series, since I kind of rampaged the whole SS1 to SS2 in just one day. The first season was gold despite a lot of noticeable flaws,with good story-line and unexpected twists. I would put its rank up there with “Heroic Age” or “Legend of Legendary Heroes”, which I really liked.

    I came to watch SS2 with the expectation like I was watching the first one, and I have to admit that apart from EP1 6 and 9, I was pretty disappointed. I actually skimmed a lot of episodes when I was watching it the first time.

    Well, that was my impression at first though, after I change my views and starting treating this as a more “Slice of Life” than the first one, I went back to watch those episodes and I am now actually enjoying this season. For me, I think this episode has a good mixture of comedy and seriousness that I could go back and watch it again and again. Well, that’s just my opinion though.

    For now, I’ll not complain about this season. It’s slow and seems like dragging, but I still expect a lot from this. I just have to change some point of views after all.

  13. Ep 12:

    Show Spoiler ▼


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