「敵もさる者ひっかく者」 (Teki mo Saru Mono Hikkaku Mono)
“The Enemy, a Noble Primate”
Shuryuu must’ve directed this episode because nobody died! Well, not counting war flashbacks. But it does partially clear up the air for the idea that the person in the preview and episode title will not live to see the next episode. I say “partially” because we’re not out of the woods just yet on the order of elimination with the ED cast. The episode ends on a tag team match between Team Pacifist and Team Zombie. While Usagi’s odds are looking good up against a team who’s biggest strengths appear to be less physical, Shuryuu has some nifty combat capabilities outside of her ability to bring about peace, and Nezumi is still keeping his powers up his sleeve. Knowing this, it might not be as huge of a one-sided blowout victory for Usagi like the Ushii vs. Niwatori fight if Shuyuu and Nezumi are more powerful in their abilities than they seem.
One thing I am confused about is the extent of Usagi’s abilities. They show him possessing Niwatori’s birds that Inoushishi shot down, but also mimic her same ability by being able to spot Shuryuu and Nezumi in the tunnel. It bothers me because we know from the last episode that her birds can pick a person apart until they’re bones, so if Niwatori summoned the birds to pick her apart, there’d be nothing left to possess, and there wouldn’t be a way for Usagi to take on her powers with just bones to zombify. It’s a nitpick, but it was just something that confused me given how Niwatori wouldn’t really have anything left to possess once Usagi made his way downtown.
On a more important note, this was the episode where we learned about Shuryuu’s background as an expert mediator who is still plagued with the horrors of failure on the battlefield where even her negotiation skills are unable to stop militias from forming and bringing about more death and destruction. Learning about her past clarifies a lot about her personal reasons why she is obsessed with pacifism, and why she’s willing to place herself on the line to bring about change that could end conflict. We also see some of her combative capabilities so we understand that even through her peaceful personality, she can still pack a good punch. It also explains why Inoushishi had a deep seated hatred for her given her attempts to stop the wars she happened to spearhead. Seems the ulterior motive that the Boar speculated was merely to kill the fun by ending the conflict in her face as comeuppance for sparking another war after brokering a successful cease-fire.
One person I feel really bad for is her long-term boyfriend or husband, who she bid farewell as she enters herself into the Zodiac War. He knew that she was going to leave for it eventually, but way the scene unfolded with him silently staring at the farewell note she left with him is a gigantic death flag on her end. With the gravity of the situation in mind, I can see the story being incredibly cruel and make it so that she isn’t going to return home to see him again. At that point, you can only expect the worst now that they’ve given her a significant other, awaiting her return only to highly likely get some bad news.
Her beliefs are complimented further by the polar opposite ideas that Nezumi offers as counterpoints to her. Rather than being entirely on-board with her pacifist campaign, he seems to have joined her either out of curiosity or convenience as his own ideology steers towards having no faith in the people he tries to protect. There are many times where the tension racks up as Shuryuu takes offense to some of the more nihilistic ideas that Nezumi harbors about not seeing people, especially the Zodiac Wars participants, as people worth saving.
Additionally, she takes it personally when Nezumi says that she most likely got Niwatori killed after crushing her ruthless demeanor. Shuryuu does have the emotional maturity to try and talk rationally about her views and perspective on the formation of her pacifist background, but she does still see him as a kid who doesn’t have the maturity to come up with anything more complex than the nihilistic ideas your standard high schooler would have, and claims he doesn’t have the true qualities of a warrior because of his disregard for human life. I am wondering if any of her ideas will get through to Nezumi given that he still joined up with her despite not sharing her interest in stopping the tournament, or what plans Shuryuu and Nezumi have in mind for getting out of the sticky situation they’re caught in. Shuryuu says she has multiple plans in motion, so only time will tell how each of those plans go, and if any one of them involves her making it out of the tournament. Before then, however, we’ll have to see what the Ram’s been up to.