This episode has a message, and it makes sure it gets it across: War is hell.
Slow? No, Deliberate
Through much of this episode, I thought the pacing was slow. Oddly so, since they took out the OP to have more time. They showed what each of the generals, and the Akuruturuka (mask wearers) in particular, could do, but they did it so slowly as to cut out any excitement. Take Munechika—if they had used half the time they spent on her battle, it would have been exciting even as a curbstomp battle. But it wasn’t. It was just brutal. And they kept showing the most devastating attacks three times, to get across just how powerful they were.
It came to me by the end of the episode. I don’t believe this was a mistake. I think the slow pacing was deliberate, and it had a very specific purpose behind it. It wouldn’t have fit into the theme if the fighting was exciting. War, Itsuwari no Kamen seems to be saying, isn’t exciting. It isn’t fun. It isn’t glorious. War is hell. It’s been said a hundred times, but we still like war stories. They’re still exciting, if they’re told the right way. This episode seems designed to disabuse us of that fallacy, and to finally give Haku something to believe in. War is hell, Haku now knows. So why the heck do people do it?
The other thing this episode does is impress upon the viewer who exactly the good guys are in this conflict: Nobody. There are no heroes here, except perhaps Rurutie for her actions last episode. But as for Yamato and the Uzuurussha, there is no good side and no evil side. There are just sides. Everyone always thinks they’re the heroes, that their cause is just—and here, I believe that Yamato’s cause was just, to shove invaders out of their land. (We don’t really know about the Uzuurussha.) But the way they did it, with Vurai turning into a hammerhead dragon-titan and razing one of their own cities … those aren’t the actions of the good guys, are they? And Oshutoru didn’t offer surrender to a man as loyal as Zeguni. (The Terminator eyes don’t help either.) Yamato’s not the good guys here. They’re just a bunch of guys.
It’s fitting that the final scene before the ED ended with silence in the soundtrack, because that’s what’s in my head as I process this episode. It’s not that it’s astounding, and it actually wasn’t all that entertaining. I just feel as if this is a theme I ought to absorb. Next week it looks like we’re back to fun fun times, and for once, they’ll feel somewhat earned. Even if I suspect that Haku won’t be as up for playing as he was in the past.
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – There are no heroes, no villains. There are just two sides. Though Vurai is a monster in more ways than one #utaware s2e15
- How the hell did he have a blade in his arm when he used that arm to hold his sword beforehand? Oh, and it bent like an arm.
- Yakutowaruto joining the team isn’t as fun when Ougi tries to flagrantly recruit him earlier in the episode. It still wouldn’t be surprising, but c’mon. Let him spring it on us (and Haku).
- If you look closely, it looks like Oshutoru might have regular human ears. Or at least the type that are closer to a regular human’s, like Mikazuchi’s or Vurai’s. If we hadn’t seen his tail when he was naked (as Ukon), I’d wonder if he wasn’t a regular human after all.
- The only laugh out loud moment of the episode: “But this is not a retreat! It’s a change of direction!” Way to sound like a middle schooler.
- Looks like Vurai wants to kill Haku after all. Which is fine, ’cause I’d like to see someone take out Vurai. Dude is dangerous, to understate things massively.
My first novel, Wage Slave Rebellion, is available now. (More info—now in paperback!) Sign up for my email list for a FREE sequel novella. Over at stephenwgee.com, the last four posts: $%&@* cuss words, Stephen, what is best in life?, It depends, and Momentum & mental space.