「黒鷲の城」 (Kurowashi no Shiro)
“The Black Eagle’s Castle”
「岩屋に鬼が嗤う」 (Iwaya ni Oni ga Warau)
“The Demon Laughs in the Cavern”
I’m sorry. Please shut up and get in the robot.
Because of Kuromukuro’s highly irregular sub output, I’m back at you this week covering the series’ two most recent installments. Just before these episodes, Yukina hit an all-time low. She was already very much traumatized at the discovery of her human-natured enemies, but then her refusal to pilot the relic resulted in frustration and anger from those around her—escalating to a point which drew her mother’s hand. All facets of the characters insecurities were brought to the forefront: the fact that she—a high school student—didn’t belong in a battlefield, the lack of acknowledgment and respect with which people treat her, and her mired relationship with her mother. Each of these were stewing over the course of the series—how then does the show mean to properly address all of this?
Well, apparently with a lot of dilly-dallying. I thought very much that these two episodes would focus solely on overhauling—or at least significantly developing—Yukina as a character. The prior events would have seem to implied that. I think it’s apparent that Yukina up until these episodes was an entirely uninteresting character. The show would occasionally tap into some moments of great intrigue—such as her relationship with her mother, her history with her father, and now the trauma from her enemy’s suicide. However these moments were far and few in between, as her copilot was (once again) relegated most of the screen time.
She was in need of a large, catalyzing moment—one which would spark her character, and motivate her. We needed a reason to seriously root for her. For this personal regrowth to occur, she first needed to hit her lowest point, and that slap in the face two weeks back seemed like it would be the answer. This was finally the time to inject the character with drive—not to the point of unrecognizability, but at least to where she had substantial reason to get in the pilot’s seat.
Instead, larger fragments of screen time were devoted once again to Kennosuke. Granted, much of scenes were spent analyzing his relation to Yukina, but to what end? The episodes touched upon his refusal to express worry or care for her, and his unwillingness to treat her like a puppet. We got a good sense of his dynamic with her, as his unrelenting readiness to die in the heat of battle starkly opposed Yukina’s more contemporary consideration of life. The two have developed a bond now that each has to come to terms with, despite their teasing and tensions.
However, nothing was substantially developed enough to justify Yukina’s return, both in relation to Kennosuke and to her inner growth as a character. His eagerness for battle was a prime catalyst for her trauma—she felt somewhat used whenever he would take arms, and as a result, learned firsthand that she was not a soldier. This lack of respect was briefly touched upon right as she admits her concerns, but only barely so. The whole matter seems resolved with relative ease—just some internet advice and minimal coping on Yukina’s part. Not enough of a coherent conclusion was reached between the two to mend their Ken really needed to understand the importance of treating Yukina not as a means to an end, but an end in herself. She has her own feelings, thoughts, and concerns that should be taken into consideration. The fact that no one does makes Kennosuke that much more important of a character—as the only person that could or would take her seriously, thereby solidifying their dynamic.
Furthermore, the focus on Kennosuke in general took away from any sense of substantial development for Yukina. Again, Yukina received an unjustifiably little amount of screen time. The same lack of attention people treat her apparently extends to the screenwriters. They just sort of haphazardly strung together an arc for her. She gets lost then attacked in the woods, and then saved by some seemingly inhuman being, passes off the lot as nothing more than a dream, then gets found by her friends and announces that she’s okay to pilot the robot as long as people ask nicely. Ignoring the fact that her run-in with the other-worldly stranger was tonally jarring and distracting from the focus on character, it served no purpose to her arc. It was odd and out-of-place, but if it at least bore some narrative relevance then it would’ve been pertinent. Instead, it merely hints at some potential discovery, far down the road in a really distracting way. This general conclusion leaves a lot to be desired, as none of the fundamental insecurities haunting the character till now are addressed—only the disrespect she’s treated with is acknowledged, but only barely so.
Overall a lot of squandered potential in these past two episodes. I thought for certain that Yukina would receive some much needed motivation and development this time around—maybe something related to her past and her father. Instead, we were treated to material that made no noteworthy effort to amend the setbacks of weeks past. She seemed more than willing to come back after nothing more than just a little time to cool off, making her departure seem nothing than a temper tantrum, instead of the big character moment that I’d hoped it’d be. Even her relationship with her mother is fixed with but a flick of the wrist—not much more than a cursory apology. One could make the argument that her undying concern and anxiety for her daughter’s absence is enough to justify this, but that’s only on part of the mother. Yukina didn’t see any of that unfold, and yet she’s over what the series had presented as this hugely intense and dramatic moment. Yukina is still in dire need of a big uplifting moment, and if it didn’t come now, I’m not sure if it will. I’m hoping by at least the series’ halfway mark that she finally has a reason to step into the pilot’s seat.
Also why do these high school boys keep getting screen time. Pls no.
Sorry for the double-post! As mentioned at the beginning of the entry (and a few weeks back) Kuromukuro’s subs are uploaded at erratic and often unpredictable times due to unconventional broadcasting circumstances. Usually they don’t come up any later than Friday or Saturday, but Episode Eight was put up just last Tuesday, and I had no time to cover it until now. Thanks for understanding!