「牛刀をもって鶏を裂く」 (Gyuutou o Motte Niwatori o Saku)
“Cutting a Chicken with a Beef Cleaver”

Everyone who saw this coming from a mile away was absolutely correct. With ordinance to the preview photo, the episode title, and the ED order, Niwatori ended up getting killed off. It would be inaccurate to say she was the next to go since it’s implied that Ushii might have killed Uuma off-screen, and Niwatori guaranteed that this would be the last time we’d see Inoushishi. Still, with the results of the last three episodes, it’d be easy to say that the main attraction of the show hasn’t been the unpredictable outcomes since the fate of characters with comprehensive backstories is outright revealed to us early on. In it’s defense, it does builds tension by keeping the viewer guessing about how they’ll go, and you won’t know if they meet their end with one assailant or another. The main problem with this episode specifically is that there’s only one conclusion to jump to with “Cutting a Chicken with a Beef Cleaver“. Possibly, they made this episode the easiest to predict so that they can throw a curve ball in the formula, but you might make a lot of money in a Juuni Taisen dead pool by predicting the obvious choices.

However, it’s flaws in predictability are made up in the storytelling and characterization of its cast. By the last 5 minutes, I was deeply invested in Niwatori because they had bought out so much in her within the span of the last couple episodes. Her backstory outlined how methodical she was during her assassination missions, and how she creative she can get with using birds to drop grenades on people. They didn’t give as much detail to her past as an amnesiac who was adopted by an assassin after she was found to have killed her parents, but we begin to understand her more through her actions in the present day. It’s nice how they don’t immediately make her psychotic, and have her keep up with her cutesy act even while going on the offensive in giving Inoushishi a gross sky burial via her birds or promising to dedicate a statue to Dotsuku. I got too attached, and by the time she faced off against Ushii, I thought for a second she had a chance to survive through her One Man Army buff only for that hope to be dashed right off the bat.

The most interesting part of the episode to me is the short, redemption arc she had after sitting down with Shuryuu and Nezumi. After settling in with their group, she hesitated to kill Shuryuu when she had the chance, and left in frustration. Her untimely demise also happened as a result of feeling protective over Shuryuu’s pacifist group, and refusing to let Ushii find them once his resolve to murder everyone was made clear. It gave Niwatori some depth as her interest in seeing Shuryuu’s mission come into fruition starts weighing on the idea she clung onto that she needed to backstab her way through the competition to win. In the end, she’s repulsed by Ushii’s admittance of wanting to backstab Shuryuu had he joined the group (In hindsight, it’s funny how after Usagi wants to join the pacifist group in the first episode, Ushii is the first to put his hand down following Niwatori).

It could be Niwatori’s own feelings, but it’d be believable if Shuryuu and Nezumi’s powers had anything to do with her change of heart. The anime has been vague about what the duo is capable of other than what their abilities imply. Nezumi’s “killing all” approach is the most mysterious as the power he’s had on people so far in giving them deja vu about his existence. In this episode, the most suspicious is Shuryuu’s “killing peacefully” method. We know she has diplomatic skills under her sleeve, but she might be able to exude a charm that makes negotiations come together more smoothly. Her influence on Niwatori would be simple to outline since her resolve ended up getting shaky when Nezumi started sleeping, when she drank Shuryuu’s tea, and after a long conversation with her. If Shuryuu can use her power through speech or consumables, she would definitely be able to cause Niwatori’s motivations to waver. If Shuryuu wanted to be malicious, then the feelings of passionate anger that Niwatori felt about Ushii wanting to threaten the pacifist group’s mission could definitely be linked towards Shuryuu’s power working against Niwatori’s survival instincts. “Killing peacefully” could easily mean the power to convince those that threaten her act as human targets to shield her from deeper threats, granting Shuryuu the ability to lead Niwatori to her demise to defend herself from Niwatori’s betrayal and stall any nearby foes.

As one of the more interesting characters, I’d hope that the next episode isn’t hinting that Shuryuu is going to be next. It’s foolish to say given my first point about the show making it clear whose going to leave next, but there is a sense of dread in the fact that she could be next to go, whether it’s by Ushii’s hand or by any wildcard assassin that shows up out of nowhere. Much like Niwatori, I have gotten quickly attached to Shuryuu’s character as an outright pacifist with possible tricks up her sleeve to help her out along the way, and her interactions with Nezumi have been nice to watch. Nonetheless, this peace is bound to end given the nature of the competition and the other competitors. They did such a good job at making Shuryuu look like both a cinnamon roll too pure for this competition and a suspicious person to watch out for that I feel like it wouldn’t be the same without her unique method of advancing through the Zodiac War. Hopefully, they’ll keep her around for a little longer, and, if not, at least give her something neat for her last hurrah.



  1. As much as I am just not happy at the fact that Uuma has possibly died (I wanted to know more about him!) I wish that there’d been a proper confirmation of the fact at least. On the other hand, we could get it if next episode focuses on Ushii’s POV a little. Something about the preview voice over-the bit that said something about a genius, can’t remember the exact wording-seemed to suggest such a possibility, even if the images suggest Shuryuu as the focus.

    And holy toast, I didn’t expect to find myself attached (for lack of a better term) to Niwatori. With the backstory reveal and her short-lived character development, she came across as very human in this episode. And the way she let the birds feed off her once she died…gross as birds picking off corpses generally is, there was something very poignant about that, it kinda tugged at my heart a little.

    1. Yeah, it was almost like, “thank you for your service all these years.”
      Full circle indeed.

      I think her inability to kill of the monkey was out of character though. She grew up psychotic and showed no empathy in killing anyone before but now all of a sudden feels guilt. Enough so that she’ll protect the monkey. Unless the monkey played with her emotions and somehow pulled a “geass”.

      Little Tangerine
      1. Pretty sure her ability is to basically “make people nice”, how do you think she was able to broker armistice between warring nations? stop pointless wars and thoughtless murders? she is not simply a good negotiator, it’s her ability. I believe it’s sort of like pheromones purple man has (marvel) it simply affects anyone in her vicinity. Or maybe it’s just some magic shit, like chicken being able to control birds, or boar infinite bullets out of thin air.

    2. It was so weird how they didn’t show what Ushii did to Uuma that it makes me think that it won’t be the last of Uuma. I was curious about him given his desire to see if Ushii wanted peace or his hobby of making ships in bottles.

      That is interesting how maybe they’ll throw us off by wavering on whether the preview is hinting at Shuryuu or Ushii.

      Yeah, Niwatori’s arc in this episode got me hooked on seeing what she’d do next. The cunning she used with her birds throughout the first half, and her heroic turn in the second made her interesting to follow. As gross as the sky burial stuff got as Niwatori’s method of choice for her and Inoushishi’s end, there is something about how she wanted her birds to be the ones to finish her off that was poetic in a way.

  2. The death-of-the-weeks are always so… rushed. They’re all just a few seconds of showdown time.

    That monkey is a son of a gun. Making others feel guilty about killing her so they’ll kill each other off instead.
    All she had to do is drink hot cocoa and wait.

    I’m thinking her special power has something to do with an extremely high EQ or ability to detect others’ thoughts and emotions.
    And probably also manipulate them somehow. Allowing her to only be aggressive when she knows she has no other choice.

    Really intrigued about how the monkey and rat will deal with each other towards the end.

    Little Tangerine
    1. I can see how the deaths feel like they happen too quickly, but I give props to the show for giving the characters very little fanfare in their demise. It gives the story somewhat of a grim feeling where any mistake can get a competitor killed in a split-second.

      Shuryuu and Nezumi seem like they’re overpowered as a group, but I am curious how they’d be able to handle things if they end up being the last two.

  3. Niwatori was so cute, if crazy.

    And from what I saw on Shuryuu on the wiki, though we’ll probably learn next episode anyway, she could actually have been one of the most deadly participants in this Juuni Taisen were it not for being a pacifist…

    Show Spoiler ▼

    …but Nezumi is broken beyond reason…

    Show Spoiler ▼

  4. Surprisingly we got no surprise this episode. So I expect the order of backstories is exactly the one of the Chinese zodiacs and we will get no surprise whatever. There will be flashbacks of Uma and Snake in episode 7 and 8.

    Overall I’m a bit disappointed. The very moment we learn enough about a character to be interested in them, they die. After this episode I would like to see more of Niwatori and how she develops.

    Its sad Shuryuu will die next episode I feel she is an outstanding interesting character. Having great power and use it with upmost integrity, is a rare character concept. And imho it works great on her.

    1. True, this was the most projected episode where they outright tell you Niwatori will die by the end of the episode. It’s disappointing in a sense if they continue the pattern from here, especially if Shuryuu really goes next. They did make Niwatori so likeable in this episode, so it was also sad to see her get dunked on so quickly.

    1. It would hinge on whether they confirm Horse is dead or if they want to kill off Monkey next time.

      Someone noted that it might’ve been in reverse order in the last Zodiac War with Boar winning so maybe the thread of fate would be to reverse it.

    1. For a moment, it seemed like she might’ve had a fighting chance, but the show just laughed hard at that notion not even two seconds later when she gets a sword to the face. It was fitting that after all of the people her birds pecked apart, her last gesture before they were free were to have them peck her.

    1. I also got really attached to Niwatori, and even if she was a ruthless assassin, she was really clever in her approach towards taking out Dotsuku and zombie Inoushishi, and the last five minutes she was on painted her in a more positive light by trying to defend the pacifist group. Her backstory was also interesting in telling us about how she fell into assassination, and how her meticulous planning and unphased reaction towards almost everything was always there. The statue line she delivered about forgetting Dotsuku’s face was pretty funny too. The fact that the birds meant so much to her that she wanted them to peck her before she went was deep.

      1. Yes, Niwatoris development was very interesting. It’s almost like Shuryuu healed her psychopathy, and she was finally able to feel with others, while in the first halve of the episode she was clearly not able to do so.

      2. Something I didn’t really consider until now was that Niwatori returning her dying self to the birds might also be related to her knowledge of the necromancer? Better to give oneself to her ‘comrades’ per se as opposed to potentially letting herself become desecrated as a zombie.

  5. Well….if we know the story of the chinese zodiacs, it was a race to rwach the emporer thus became the order of the years…the Rat wins the race in the end by riding on the ox and jumping off last min. So the potential winmer of this war is the Rat.

    So far the order of death has been in order of the race who finished last in the chinese zoduac story which is inoshishi(pig)>dog>niwatori. If it follows in order, horse isnt next so im assuming Uuma is still alive. The one next is actually the monkey…which could mean the next one to die potentially is the Monkey.


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