「異国の味に己が境遇を知る」 (Ikoku no Aji ni Ono ga Kyooguu o Shiru)
“The Foreign Taste Tells All”

An immensely promising entry of things to come.

This week, Kuromukuro skillfully managed both to develop its characters as well as set up a larger plot for the series to work towards.

The episode started off with its lead samurai once again adjusting to facets of modern life. He yells at the people inside the television, guffaws at the concept of contemporary foods, dismisses modern undergarments, and so on. What’s more, it’s all genuinely funny, despite having been done countless times before. The conflict between Kennosuke’s refusal to toss aside his traditional Japanese ways and his honest willingness to adapt and change to this new world makes for some great humor. All the gags and jokes made these characters all the more likable.

Where this week’s installment really shined, however, was its organic development not only of its characters, but of the plot going forward. Little hints and bits of exposition concerning the invading mechs were sprinkled about the episode. We were informed how incredibly tough and powerful they were (enough to survive a motherf*ckin’ nuke), establishing the physical obstacles and goals our heroes will eventually come up against. We also learned that only the artifact could effectively take out these threats, and that only Yukina and Kennosuke can pilot it. This gave us a sense of the challenges that lay ahead, and the likely pertinence that Kennosuke and Yukina set aside their squabbles to combat these foes. A subtle yet memorable way to set up the ensuing narrative. More importantly, though, was how the exposition established personal motivations and objectives of our protagonists.

Yukina finally received some substantial development this week. Towards the beginning of the episode, she quickly dismissed the importance of a father figure in her life. This planted a seed of intrigue that paid off during the episode’s concluding act, as we finally found out what happened to her father and what sort of psychological trauma that inflicted on her. Since her father seems to have nonsensically pursued research on fantasy and fairy tales right before mysteriously disappearing, Yukina is frustratingly left in the dark at both the loss of her father. She’s never received any closure on the matter, and thus, is mentally tortured at the mere mention of him. The fact that he’s an object of mockery to everyone around her doesn’t help either. This really opened up her character, and fleshed her out with insecurity, worry, doubt—essentially, true weakness. I feel way more familiar with who she is now, and what’s important to her.

This makes her relationship with Kennosuke all the more profound. As she realizes, Kennosuke has finally opened the door not only to the credence of her father’s work (and thus his reputation), but potentially the location of her father—or at least just finding out what happened to him. His insistence on seemingly ridiculous talks of demons and folklore are the key to closure and knowledge which has emotionally crippled her for so many years.

At the same time, Yukina could potentially provide the knowledge to solve Kennosuke’s own conflictions. He’s still visibly torn not only at the death of his most beloved (whether romantically or not, we’ve yet to see), but also by a lack of closure. He can’t find any information anywhere he looks at the fate of his cherished family and friends. You can imagine the shock and agony at having everything you love instantly ripped away from you, and being completely left in the dark as to why. What fate befell the people most important to him? Why is he here now? The research of Yukina’s father seems to hold at least some inkling of answer. Thus, Yukina forces herself to address old wounds by investigating his private study—she’s almost literally prying pen old wounds—in order to help out her new comrade.

This makes their relationship thematically rife, both with the significance of their friendship and the personal goals which will catalyze the plot going forward. These are two individuals merely out for some closure about the fate of their loved ones. Their dynamic is founded upon two-way emotional support—despite their gap in time, they’re more alike than they think. I finally feel that our two main characters have been fleshed out enough for the show to place them in foreign territory. The fact that their personal goals will be fulfilled by discovering more about the lore is a clever and meaningful way to keep us interested in the same. Overall an incredibly strong episode, and one which bodes well for things to come.

Author’s Note: By the way, does anyone know the show is receiving such little love with subs? I don’t know what it is, but a subbed version of this episode wasn’t even uploaded until this morning, despite the fact that Kuromukuro airs on Thursdays. If this keeps occurring, I apologize for the inconsistent times at which my posts will go up as the weeks go on—I’m completely at the beck and call of the sub overlord.

Update: Got my question answered, thanks!

 

Preview

27 Comments

  1. The problem with subs is that normally for most shows, a group by the HorribleSubs rips the videos from official stream sites (CrunchyRoll, Funimation and the like). However, Kuromukuro got licensed by Netflix, which doesn’t upload the episodes until it’s over (and thus, they can upload them all at once subbed and dubbed), like Ajin, Sidonia and Nanatsu no Taizai/7 Deadly Sins.
    Thus, the subs are made entirely from scratch by a group named gg that was supposed to be dead, but came back this season to sub Macross Delta (Because that wasn’t getting in a legal stream site for HS to rip anytime soon, because of Harmony Gold and their hold on the Macrooss franchise) and later decided to also pick up Kuromukuro
    They’re normally timely enough to release the episodes of both shows within 24h of their airing in Japan, but they aren’t professionals. They’re just a bunch of anime fans subbing the episodes in their spare time. So, RL issues with any of gg’s members can delay the subs

    bassgs435
  2. We’re lucky enough to get [gg] to subtitle/simulcast it at all, due to Netflix having the rights (simulcast) to the anime. Though, I’m not entirely sure if they are also aired on the Japanese TV networks. These rights include Japan (available Monday if I recall correctly) and the rest of the world, it is still unclear when they will release it worldwide.

    Andrew
      1. BS11; that’s one of the Japanese TV stations. Other terrestrial channels airing Kuromukuro include Tokyo MX, AT-X, and Kyoto Broadcasting System. I think Netflix Japan is airing it too.

        zztop
  3. The dynamic between Kennosuke and Yukina is pretty interesting. Since Kennosuke is continuing to mistake Yukina for the princess he was protecting ~450 years ago; and Yukina is finding confirmation of her father’s work via Kennosuke’s survival, and trying to serve as a host to her same-aged house guest.

    Why did I say ‘trying’? This:
    https://randomc.net/image/Kuromukuro/Kuromukuro%20-%2004%20-%20Large%2015.jpg
    Show Spoiler ▼

    What a great start to their friendship…/sarcasm

    info600
    1. -Fundoshi were mainstream in Japan right up to the 1950s, until they were replaced with Western style briefs and boxers. They are still worn at certain temple festivals in Japan, and you can still buy some modern ones as variety underwear.
      No amount of washing will change where that towel’s been though!!!

      – Under the ancient age system, you’re 1 year old at the moment of birth. This makes Kennosuke 17 in modern age (although he does look and act older than his age).

      zztop
  4. Everytime an oni defeated by kuromukuro, there’s this corrupted part on their frame spreading around from the initial “wound”. It seems they’re quite immune to normal physical attack such as nuclear and ABC weapons but the kuromukuro technology is bypassing that. It’s either that or the swords they wield are special.

    cryarc
  5. Am thinking it’s more of their Shield deflecting attacks at a certain speed and at a certain distance. (IE similar to Guald Shields in stargate) as the GAUS in episode one manage to bypass a red Oni’s shield by firing his gun at point blank range

    Devastator001
  6. While there wasn’t any robot action this week, I appreciate that the staff acknowledged a 300 ton robot would collapse under its own weight without some sort of technology to support it.

    Longhaul
    1. Yukina is clearly the magical key girl that activate the robot in this one, which precludes her from having MC status and confirms his heroine status. Girl keys have been a standard trope in mecha cartoons at least since Nadia while I really can’t recall even a single instance of a boy being the key for a girl pilot on the fly.

      bastek66
  7. I think MC might be one of the best “Fish out of water” characters I’ve seen. He’s not just scared, interested, and fascinated by the modern world, but he actively challenges it. I don’t think watching him interact with modern technology and traditions will ever get old.
    Also, Koharu is just amazing. In any given scene, just keep looking at her. She’s so damn animated, expressive and all around funny.

    MaxXZoe
    1. That’s really what I’ve liked about the show so far. MC’s a remarkably active participant compared to a lot of fish-out-of-water protagonists (Ledo, Sousuke, etc).

      Reverberate__
  8. memorable moents of episode:
    -Japan used LOLI GLOMP it was super effective! (on Kennosuke)
    -Russia used TACTICAL NUKE it was useless (on enemy mech)
    -most obvious agents ever (standing out with their MIB attire and white Hummer marked with big UN mark…)
    -the power of the shopping mall – they even got fundoshi in the pantsu shop :p

    I like the slowly, but not TOO slowly spreading web of connections Kennosuke makes – to the empathic monk Uncle , to the kid who isn’t afraid of him, and to the girl who has lost a dear person and still can’t cope with it 100%.

    ewok40k
  9. I’m mainly watching for the Samurai MC, but I hate the main heroine. She has only complained about everything (which is understandable but she doesn’t do anything either) also she’s pretty fucking stupid, even for a high schooler. They keep trying to make her look cute even when is a moment killer at times.

    I heard this has one of the Darker than Black writers, which kind of explains why the opening has a DtB vibe to it. I’ll keep watching but the ugly mecha and stupid main heroine are making it difficult.

    Choostopher

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