「対決か 降伏か/」 (Taiketsu ka kōfuku ka)
“Battle or Surrender”
The strongest individual character development yet.
This week, Luck and Logic managed to surprise almost as much as its first episode did. Not only did it devote an entire episode towards developing a character who has done little more than exist quietly in the background, but it did so more strongly than for its primary characters.
Existing in the Background
So how exactly does Luck and Logic characterize someone who’s done nothing but support the main characters from afar? Well with that quality itself—Nanahoshi Yukari is the team’s de facto “manager,” like she was for her previous soccer team. It’s all she’s ever done, and all she’s ever used to. As the episode’s opening dream sequence made clear, Nanahoshi was not made for the spotlight—just the notion of injecting herself right into the action seems destined for failure. For now, all she can do is lend her services in assisting those more capable.
This is a wonderful way to justify suddenly bringing attention to a character who has merely subsisted in the series thus far. Though we’ve always got glimpses of Nanahoshi either cooking up some grub for the team or asking questions in the command center, we’ve never really gotten a feel for her identity, as well as her relevance to the team. There’s no better way to start characterizing her than with the way the show has used her character thus far. A surprisingly ingenious way to make her development this episode seem organic and unforced.
It was interesting seeing the drastic shift in perspective from the fighters to the team support. The focus on Nanahoshi allowed for a slower pace, as we finally got a better grasp of her character. As the series’ characters let her know, she has a natural penchant for supporting others—easily getting a handle on others’ habits, tendencies, and preferences. Despite being fully aware of her inherent strengths and weaknesses, though, Nanahoshi secretly covets a starring role. She knows her place, but can’t help but crave at least the opportunity to prove herself worthy for more involved post.
Priestess and god
Enter Quetzalcoatl (the Mayan god of wind and learning, as it turns out). His role this week was by far the most interesting. Up until now we’ve received little to no explanation for the motives and logic (WHOA HO HEY) behind the series’ recurring threats. Thanks to Nanahoshi’s surprising mental calmness in the face of a monster (who’s doing nothing but threatening to devour her whole), we learn that a motive or their attacks is the lack of veneration they receive from humans. They believe themselves worthy of the very same worship they we express towards gods, and are angered to find humans unenthusiastic to do so. Perhaps this calls into question whether real objects of worship with be afflicted by such pitiful egos, but that’s a thought for another time.
The real reason this guy got the spotlight was to finally grant Nanahoshi a trance partner! Throughout the episode, several relationships between logicalists and gods were explored—each dynamic turned out to be unique from one another, from the unconditional subservience of Athena, to the hot and cool complements of Chloe and Valkyrie. In all cases though, the two fit perfectly together.
The trend carries over to Nanahoshi and her new ally. On one side is a girl who flourishes in a supporting role, and on the other is someone who wants nothing more than to be held in high regard. Like an accelerator and a brake pedal. This is a wonderful way to not only introduce a wholly new character, but finally promote Nanahoshi to a more active role on the team. Thanks to her risky move she finally got a taste of the other side.
Now despite the strength of the overall narrative arc, some beats weren’t played out as convincingly as they could have been. Did Nanahoshi and Quetzel Pretzel really bond strongly enough together during such a short span of time to warrant her life-threatening move? I get the thematic significance of their dynamic, but more should have been spent fleshing out their personal connection, especially to merit Quetzakfdafjkd’s drastic change of heart. Maybe play up a more human insecurity and secret lack of confidence to better complement Nanahoshi’s unconditional empathy and kindness. The episode in general was sort of lacking a strong emotional weight and resonance.
Despite some of my qualms, though, this week managed not only to deliver a coherent character arc that resulted in a consequential development (Nanahoshi’s upgraded role), but also an added layer of depth to the nature of these god-logicalist relationships. It was also great to see that a foreigner got a role greater than the typical monster-of-the-week fare. Now to see if Luck and Logic continues the trend of developing its individual characters, or decides to get the ball rolling for a grander plot.
Also I’m sorry but Nanahoshi’s new suit is embarrassing to look at. Nothin’ more than dragon jammiez.