「救出」 (Kyuushutsu)

Execution is still rough, but the underlying thrust of the story here isn’t bad. It just needed to happen twelve episodes ago.

Not Enough Difficulty

As I’ve mentioned in recent episodes, I find myself down on Itsuwari no Kamen in a way that I wouldn’t be if it hadn’t been screwing things up for so long. When KonoSuba does something a little goofy, and I happily give it a pass because it’s been killing it; Itsuwari no Kamen has not. But I tried to be as objective as I could in appraising this episode (objectivity is impossible, of course, but the attempt has worth in and of itself), and my conclusion is that the thrust of the plot right now isn’t bad. It’s leading in an interesting direction, finally. Most of my qualms come in execution.

Dekoponpo drops the Akuruka; that’s overly convenient. Haku throws together a half-assed plan and splits the party; it still works. Haku can’t get inside the palace because magic is useless again; Karura and Touka show up to conveniently save the plot. There are only a few token guards defending the princess and Oshutoru; there should be many. Kuon heals the princess effortlessly, they have a debate in the dungeon, they take too long to get on the boat for no good reason, and probably more.

All of these are instances where the writers slapped together a script without really pouring their heart and souls into it. There are elementary mistakes happening here. I famously said that Comet Lucifer watched like a first draft; this watches like the first draft of an adaption. It’s better because it has the benefit of source material to work off of, but they needed a few more iterations to tighten everything up, and a good editor to tell them when they were being dumb. Or maybe they shoudlda just played the source material more.

Karura and Touka especially annoy me. Haku didn’t even go searching for them, thinking they might have a way; they just show up when he needs them. It becomes clear that this is why they didn’t defend Tusukuru, but it’s the needs of the plot perverting the characters. Not good writing.

Where We’re Going

All that said, the actual story they’re trying to tell is moving in an interesting direction. A civil war could be fascinating, especially since it could see the antagonist generals (Vurai, Dekoponpo, probably Raikou, and I’m guessing Woshisu, though I don’t have any proof of that), directly opposed to Haku/Oshutoru’s group, whereas I expect Oozen (Rurutie’s father), Soyankekuru (Atui’s father), Tokifusa (the Evenkuruga-looking guy), and Munechika (if she’s alive) will line up on Oshutoru’s side. Oh, and Mikazuchi too, unless they want to get some real angsty shit going up in here. This could give Itsuwari no Kamen—or rather, the forthcoming sequel—a sustained core of antagonists in a way that the original Utawarerumono never really had. That was to the original’s benefit in some ways, and its detriment in others, so I’m willing to say that it could elevate the sequel, even if it won’t necessarily do so.

This all just needed to happen twelve episodes ago. There’s been a whole lot of not much going on for the longest time, they diverted over into Tusukuru for what seems like fanservice at the moment, characters have been left badly characterized (new ones) or perverted by the plot (original characters), and the whole series has been marked by a lack of urgency. If we were in the capital by episode four (the first three episodes were still largely good), had most of the characters introduced by eight, were kicking the Uzuurussha by ten and were learning about the truth of the world by twelve, we could have been dealing with this stuff two months ago, when we might have still cared.

And honestly? I think the entire diversion into Tusukuru is partially to blame. The Tusukuru characters have been the best part of this series, but while the Karura/Touka and Kamyu/Aruruu are largely defensible because they didn’t detract anything (and they did help flesh out Kuon), what the damn hell was the point of the whole Tusukuru invasion? From where we stand now, it seems like a damn waste of time. Probably it’ll be important later, but I feel like we wasted so much time with Tusukuru things—also, with overly long character introduction episodes which could have been done in half the time—that we never got to really understand these characters or get a plot worth anything.

But that’s not the main problem. The real problem is that they’re only giving us half the story. We got a loooong, extended first act (character introductions, the Uzuurussha, the Tusukuru invasion), and we’re only now getting to the second act (the civil war) … and the series is ending. They’re telling us one game’s worth of story stretched out over two games, and the anime suffers from it as well.

Er. Went off on a diversion there. My point is, the direction they’re going now isn’t bad. A civil war could be interesting. It just needed to happen a long time ago.

tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – The execution is still lazily rough, but if this plot had happened two months ago, I woulda probably enjoyed it #utaware s2e22

Random thoughts:

  • Looks like Vurai has Oshutoru’s mask. I bet that will be important in a few episodes.
  • If the infiltration was as hard as it should have been, sending Haku ad Nekone for Oshutoru would have been a death wish. Haku is all right in a fight, but Nekone is useless. The twins didn’t come along why, again? Unless that barrier dampened all magic, in which case magic is useless again.
  • Don’t just stare at each other this isn’t Star Wars.
  • If I were the other eight generals, I would kill Oshutoru early, just to thwart any rescue attempts. Unless their goal was to catch them, but by the shitty defenses, clearly it was not.
  • Don’t applaud on a stealth mission, Kuon.
  • Loyalty isn’t all it’s cracked up to be if Oshutoru is this damn stupid. Take a lesson from Ansatsu Kyoushitsu—sometimes, the world is worth nothing next to twenty lives. And Vurai is loyal to the emperor, not the people, you idiot.
  • That’s a death flag for Yakutowaruto right there. No idea if he’ll die though, since the writers are so scattershot.
  • Author’s note: I’ll be out of town next weekend, so Passerby will be blogging episode 23. Thank you, Bystandar-chwan!

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: Deadpool: Tonal Balance Through Non-Linear Storytelling, Through their own flaws, Look to the one before, and The problem with character development episodes.




  1. Anime original scenes, anime original scenes everywhere.

    The show messed up so badly during the first 2/3 of the show that the ending is suffering for it. It hurts physically, knowing what could have been.

  2. I tried to give this a passing grade, but Oshutoru killed it dead. He gives this whole list of problems, then acts like leaving Vurai in charge would help after he let himself die. Massive “Idiot Ball”. Vurai might scare the others, but there’d still be a bout for power, during which he’d probably kill a massive number of people cause like Stilts said, he doesn’t care. As long as “Yamato” is still strong when he wins(so as long as he still has his mask), he doesn’t care at all.

    On Tuskuru invasion, I think it just went too far. All we needed to know was that the emperor was after Hakuoro, presumably for “curing” the curses. Everything else was flavor, and a chance for Kuon development if they had done it better.

  3. I think Oshutoru’s been huffing paint while everyone was away at war. First he gives his mask to the one imbecile everyone KNOWS is an imbecile, then comes to the conclusion that leaving Vurai in charge is good? What happened to the brilliant general from the 1st half? Is he dead? Is this just a clone?

    1. Exactly. Even if you’re trying to view the show independent of its game, this anime original stuff has been making zero sense and has had such dismal writing since the Tuskuru invasion.

    2. I do find it strange, that after he took the mask of, his “pretty fake” face do not changed. in the past, when he took the Mask off, his face turned back into his real self. But not here…

  4. What was even the point of the scene were Dorkponpo is given that mask if he was going to drop it anyways? (Also we now know why he doesn’t die, it’s to make him look like a total slimeball in what’s probably anime-original content)

    Incidentally, the first minute or so was stupid almost everything looked good after it. Oshutoru’s “I will agree to be killed because Vurai says it’s for the people” was so stupid it caused me physical pain.

    One thing though Stilts: I think Kuon didn’t heal Anju, but just eased her pain.

    1. @Erimaki: Nah, Hime’s fine. Kuon says “Her fever’s down. Nothing to worry about now, I think.” Pretty clear random, all purpose medicine cures all. Totally agree with you regarding Oshu. So stupid I just fast forwarded after a while.

    2. Yeah, I know she didn’t cure her, but she still apparently gave her medicine that worked when her doctors—who are assumedly the best Yamato has—either couldn’t or didn’t. If they were just late rushing the fever-lowering medicine to her, okay, but that seems stupid too. It’s minor, but it’s one in a list of many complaints.

      1. @daikama I took that to just mean she’s better since fever’s down, but it is true she’s pretty sure in her claim that Anju’s okay… As long as you ignore the “I think”, and it’s her verbal tick anyways so pretty safe to do so I guess also it would be more correct translated as “I wonder” but I digress.

        @Stilts I didn’t really think much of it since Kuon was established to have considerable skill in medicine and I thought Yamato wasn’t so developed in that regard… But now that I think about that, the latter thing was never actually said so I guess it was just an assumption on my part. My bad there.

  5. So it’s really a coup…and not just one but several general that planned it even atui and rurutie father…

    why they other general never asked why oshutoru have to poisoned the princess like an idiot,well if they all Planned this together basically it’s simple they just need to threaten oshutoru to make that false confession or vurai will kill all rebel.

    And I think it before,how the invasion to tsukuru kinda half assed there are many general but only munechika that deployed as a vanguard..but if the goal actually to get rid of munechika it make sense.

  6. I thought the main aim of attacking Tsukuru was so the emperor could access the old labs where Hakuoro’s at, to get more research on turning the red blobs human again. Diplomacy attempts failed, so the emperor wants it by force.

    The game writers have promised Game 3 will have even more content and story than Itsuwari, so if the next anime version plays it right the story won’t feel so stretched out.

  7. I wonder if this is one show that would have been better if it had only been thirteen episodes long. Then again, it would probably still have needed better writing.

    1. Aye, what RedRocket said. With the content we’ve seen, this didn’t need two cours, but would have been too long for one. It needed a weird amount of episodes, like a Nisekoi season, but there are precious few series that can pull in an 16-20 episode run.

      Which is a damn shame ’cause some stories don’t, and should not, conform to the set standards we give them. Novels and feature-length films and TV episodes and TV seasons all have their lengths for a reason, and they’re good for a lot of things, but sometimes you need something else. Itsuwari no Kamen needed a different length, and it was given more … which, it turns out, can be a curse too.

      1. The most frustrating thing for me is that I could see the potential in each SoL episode, what it was trying to do, but they just missed so horribly or were unnecessary all together. The time would’ve been much better spent on developing the relationship between the party with a little SoL between better-explained missions where they were working together, like when they crashed Deko’s cage-matches, which would also be useful in showing Haku’s strategic mind much more gradually/naturally. Cause with just the anime, even now we have no idea were he suddenly picked up combat skills.

  8. the reason for this Retreat at War…

    (My Speculation brainstorm)

    The Emperor saw that his Army is not strong enough to breakthrough

    So, he planed his own death, for what?. He is sacrificing Yamato’s citizen. Why not, they are all “Fakes”. So with time the Peoples forget his face, and he can go as normal citizen visiting the neighbor country, just to get his hands on an DNA Sample of these holy tomb

    If he can get the Data, he can “resurrect” the real Humans, his real Race. Who needs these fakes, if he can get the real ones?

    i am right? the only ones he had some feelings are perhaps Honoka…

    1. also…
      between these Two Shoots:

      More time has passend as this Episode tell us right now. I bet the next Episode will show us an fight, or an flashback of this fight. Because this Little Girl look back for an good reason. You all know “When the Wind arise” from Ghibli? On his first Plane test flight? he looked behind the mountains, when he got a feeling his wife died (i assume it)… Here i get the same feeling, the little one looks back because something happen with his dad… So between these two Pictures, a bigger fight had been going on

  9. Well, you’ve pretty much said everything I wanted to say, Stilts. Because, indeed, the more this plot resembles a fantasy version of what happened to Alexander’s empire after he died (which is an interesting story, really) the more I find myself intrigued by its developments.

    But why is the writing so consistently and so frustratingly bad?! Nothing ever progresses naturally in this show! You’ve got things happening out of convenience here, things getting excused with ‘yeah it’s magic’ there and characters acting like complete morons all throughout. Lately there hasn’t been a victory that actually feels earned – our main characters are succesful with their haphazard plans because the writers say they are.

    3 more episodes to go…I’m already looking forward to seeing it end, and for all the wrong reasons.

    1. I would watch an anime about the funeral games after Alexander the Great’s death. I would watch, and blog, the fuck out of that anime, if it was anywhere near good.

      Unfortunately, Itsuwari no Kamen keeps trying to not be good. It’s a damn shame.

    2. as i got told in reddit, this Show lacks the Visual feedback to us that Shows how Awesome Haku really is.

      Only Tuskuru supporting mission with the surprise attack (not really) got show to us so far. all others was easy walking, and the only shots that they show us how awesome he is with his metal fan, are the “demonstration fight” where the Princess faked her own hijacking and now here these two soldiers.. and thats it..

      We do not know (the anime only viewers) how awesome Haku really is, only that he do not love to work…

  10. Dear Writers,
    stop trying to force feed Dekoponpo down our throats. Every time you put him in, it just kills any amount of gravitas, that you might have been able to build. Just stop it. Please.

    My other main problem with this episode is the same as the previous. They are giving us time to care about these events. They wasted so much time on the pointless crap, and now the important stuff is getting rushed.

    They just don’t allow drama to naturally happen. Every time a conflict arises, the writers just solve it for them, instead of giving the time for the characters to overcome their problem.

  11. LOL – were to I start? Maybe continuing my “one word (or term) description” theme. This week, the word is “convenient”. There were other candidates such as “idiot ball” (or just “stupid”), but I think convenient wins, if barely. As Stilts mentioned, WOW are things convenient. Need a way into the capital, cue deus ex Karura and Touka. Few guards hanging around/no alarm raised? Sure. Need to cure a mysterious poison, this all purpose medicine will work just fine. *sigh*.

    Still, idiot/ball and/or stupid makes a strong case. Right from the start we have Dekoponpo (who can’t die fast enough just from sheer annoyance) doing his usual stupid thing so someone (probably Vurai as Stilts suggests) can get Oshu’s mask. I also question Yakutowaruto sending his young daughter (the one who was kidnapped before and thus compelled him to fight with the barbarians) with Kiuru. Just Kiuru. Good idea to get her out of the city, but Kiuru alone doesn’t strike me as the most reliable of bodyguards. Arguably minor point in the scheme of things, but one that crossed my mind. Well, daddy may end up being the one in trouble anyway if the death flags are true.

    The worst for me though was Oshu “protecting” the public by doing EXACTLY what the damn assassins/usurpers wanted. Way to go. Oh, sure eventually he acquiesced, but now we have MORE padding/delay because “rescue” was only Part 1. Part 2 is “escape” and we have to fight to get the the ship rather than just getting on the damn thing and moving forward. Of course “forward” doesn’t mean much because it seems this two-cour show is nothing more than a overly long introduction/set-up for a third season where the real story takes place. Way to milk the franchise, guys.

    Three more episodes to go. >_>

  12. ………………………………

    *opens mouth to say something, then closes it, shakes head, walks an adamantium table, sits down, then slams his head into it so hard that it shatters into nothing*

  13. In the games, Show Spoiler ▼

    Stilts edit: Tag your spoilers, though this is all shit that didn’t happen ’cause adaptation decay, so probably safe for most people to click.

  14. This defiantly would have been better if they had just copied the game closely from what I could tell.

    The Slice of Life was actually done well to me. It is just the action part that is poorly done but if from what I heard the director is a slice of life director being stretched into something he did not specialize in that would explain why the Slice of Life was way to long and the action parts too short and botched.

    With the lack of guards I figure like the failure to clearly show the military action past episode there was a way that they came out of the secret route inside of the last primary screen of guards. Basically the guards are at the only known entrances to the jail. But this needed to be shown. Just like in the calvary vs Infantry fight the use of spears to stop the calvary was needed followed by fighting scene making it clear the calvary was steady becoming dismounted, as they tried to hold ground, so they could not easily withdraw. Thus might have 20 or so at the entrances to the jail building. Also this county is new to the coup business and most guards are on the walls not yet really realizing that internal guards against people in the palace are needed.

    Yes this looked so good and I enjoyed it well until the action started as I managed to avoid the expectation bias and enjoyed the SOL. But the action part has been disappointing. But hey I was upset the maneuvers and set ups to battles to win were so skimmed over in the first series only being covered by a fast display of military movements and battles. But still the first one way better till a way to fast rushed end.

    1. I don’t like the “he’s a slice-of-life director” argument. Just because someone hasn’t done a thing doesn’t mean they can’t. I’ve only written fantasy so far, so does that mean I can’t do sci-fi, drama, or horror? Not necessarily, and I’m about to test the sci-fi part at least. What someone’s done before can be predictive, and it can also not be. It needs to be taken with a large grain of salt.

      Only, in this case it turns out he can’t do it. Or enough things are working against him that’s he’s not. Either way, I don’t think it was necessarily predictive coming in, but the vague worry sure came home to roost.

      1. I was not going for a predictive argument so a bit of fail on my part. I was doing a in hindsight argument to give a possible explanation why the slice of life was well done but the rest poor. The Producers have to give a chance to promising directors from time to time as you are always losing good ones to retirement, death, burn out, etc. But this time it failed. Of course maybe it not the directors fault but instead Production interface always hard to tell outside in. Just wish the failure was not in one of my top anime from my earlier period.

        This is also a Production and Advertising fail in that enough of this story was made before the advertising was finished for final release and a cleaver honest portrayal of story as slice of life in this world with hints of action at the end would have made the expectation failure less a problem. Unfortunately botching the end still would have been bad but at least a lot more would have enjoyed the slice of life up till then.

        My favorite example is when Cartoon Networks Toonomi aired GXP they failed to make it very clear it was a comedy sci fi not a serious one. I managed to look it up before watching and quite enjoyed the humor. But tons flooded the message boards hating it and going into detail how it failed as serious sci fi which it was never intended to be. Lots of that was stupid and I’m going it’s comedy stupid at times is the point. Would have thought the huge slap stick in the first episode and ending credit should have given a clue but wrong exceptions are hard get people to notice their expectation was wrong. And poor ratings pushed it to a later time slot.

  15. I’m wondering where this is going too. It feels like there should be another season, or is the sequel game gonna address things? Wonder how many years we’ll have to wait for that. As it is, I don’t think there’s enough episodes to properly finish this series, and if they do with the few remaining episodes, it’ll be too much of a rush job.

  16. I really thought that they would escape to Tuskuru. If that had happened it would make more sense to have the original characters and the reintroduction of Tuskuru more important. Also I think that Oshtoru’s attitude would actually work well in Tuskuru.

    Talking about Tuskuru i wonder if that medicine is one of her momentos

    1. Good point. Though there’s still time for that to happen if Kiuru’s mission is a failure. In which case, at least the Tusukuru diversion will make sense in retrospect, and all our characters will be on the same side.

  17. @Stilts – I think they are gonna pull off some Deus Ex Machina to AVOID civil war.
    Cause civil war is usually most uncivil, and and one with Vurai on one side would be nothing short of apocalyptic.
    With so many ass-pulls in the series one more to finish it would be most fitting.
    One thing more, I was really mad at Oshutoru for giving up so easily. did he really think his death – noble as it would be – would stop the inevitable war between at the very least Vurai and Dekoponpo, with rest of the generals joining whatever faction and province-leaders possibly seceding.
    Didnt he watch Game of Thrones dammit????

  18. Karura/Touka was convenient, but at that moment I only thought: “You want to start a civil war? Here, take this. We (Tusukuru) approve!”^^

    Other things:
    A+ for Guards shouting “Intruders” to alarm others
    F- for Guard placement, because no others Guards were close enough to hear them xD
    That one extra Guard appearing behind Kuon felt strange.
    And A+ for the Guards tracking skills. I don’t know how Haku and co. escaped the prison unseen and so fast in the end (teleport rescue after all?), but those guards still got them! 😀

    1. the guards ran into them by wide-area combing with large amount of troops, rather than tracking….
      the returning guard was coming back from bio breaj or something, we would never know
      but yeah for so important targets at least squad – or even platoon sized detachments should be used

      finally, the Pratchett quote sums this up:

      “They may be called the Palace Guard, the City Guard, or the Patrol. Whatever the name, their purpose in any work of heroic fantasy is identical: it is, round about Chapter Three (or ten minutes into the film) to rush into the room, attack the hero one at a time, and be slaughtered. No-one ever asks them if they wanted to.

      This book is dedicated to those fine men.”

  19. I don’t know if someone pointed out how your vanguard enemy (Karula and friend) have a map of some secret route to the imperial palace and why, except for the purpouse to show at the best moment to present it to our stupid and poorly deserved main char in chief.

  20. About the medicine, is the daughter of the the Eruruu in the first series. so its natural that she has a superior knowledge of healing here.


    Episode 20: 23:41 (If your were serious to you could tear this country in half).
    and quite a few others as well.

    According to AnimeDB, this series has 3 episodes to go, A lot of thing could happen here:

    1. Kuon could awaken bein the daughter of Hakouro.
    2. Haju could accidentally slip out that he is the emperor’s brother.(he has a big mouth, at times)

    may I’m just speculating here or not


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