「愛する者との約束」 (Ai suru Mono to no Yakusoku)
“A Promise to the One You Love”
There is so much to be pleased about with Meliodas’ visions of the past. This could have so easily been terribly done, and though shounen convention argued against the worst possible path being taken, I’m still left with a sense of relief that it turned out so well. It chiefly has to do with theme.
Before I get to that, let’s discuss a few quirks that helped elevate this. I really liked how Meliodas didn’t experience some bullshit memory-wipe when he went into the visions. I had expected the old game where he’s bewildered at first and then his modern memories fade away as he settles back into being old-Meliodas, but that didn’t happen. Probably mostly because this is a test rather than a mind-trap, but I could have easily seen Suzuki-sensei having this be a test of whether new-Meliodas would do different than old-Meliodas, which would have been silly without all his modern memories, because if he only had memories up to where old-Meliodas had them, he would be old-Meliodas, right? And he’d make the same decisions. There is no inherent change in Meliodas’ character, it’s all in the lessons his experience has imparted, so that would have rang false. It’s like how Diane has totally reverted to old-Diane after Gowther wiped her memories. That’s how it would be.
The other thing that the trial does really well is make us feel Meliodas’ pain. It helps that we’ve been following his exploits for a while, and the tragedy with Danafor and Liz has been an undercurrent the entire time, but the endlessly repeating loop of happiness and despair really ground the feeling home. Not only does it make us want Meliodas to succeed all the more, it makes his ultimate victory sweeter. That was well done.
Finally, it comes down to theme. Zaneri’s goal was for Meliodas to abandon his emotions, and I’m sorry, that’s a stupid goal. I can see why she would desire it, it would make Meliodas a much more reliable steward of his power, but had he actually done that, it would have been a betrayal of everything that built up to this scene. That’s not to say that Suzuki-sensei having Zaneri espouse this ideal is a bad thing, mind you; it’s the perfect goal and philosophy to serve as an idea-antagonist to Meliodas. It would be a betrayal of Liz, so he cannot do that. He must succeed without abandoning his emotions.
Probably the most correct answer to his dilemma is a form of mindfulness or acceptance. He should not forget Liz, nor seek to cut himself off from his anger, because such a thing is impossible. What he should instead do is seek to accept his emotions, and to observe them rather than reacting to them. Seriously, try it—the next time you feel yourself getting angry, don’t act on that emotion. Instead just watch the anger. Count to ten if you like, but focus on watching that emotion. It does wonders to put yourself back in the pilot’s seat if you can manage it.
Such a path would fly in the face of Meliodas’ role as the Dragon’s Sin of Wrath. His path takes him closer to that of Bruce Banner/The Hulk in The Avengers, with that memorable line:
Steve Rogers: Doctor Banner, now might be a good time for you to get angry.
Bruce Banner: That’s my secret, Captain: I’m always angry.
What Bruce had realized is the lesson that Meliodas learned here: If you have a literal anger monster lurking in your chest, the key is not to turn away from stress. It’s to always be angry. If you’re always angry—for Meliodas, about the loss of Danafor and Liz, the woman he loved—then there won’t be a spike that allows the anger to sweep over and control you. So Meliodas will keep Liz in his heart, and remain angry about her death, because he needs the power of that anger to defeat those who would take his new-found happiness away from him. This way he can access that power, but not let it control him.
Like I said, this was done really well, and I’m extremely pleased about it. That’s why I keep saying that Nanatsu no Taizai is some of the best shounen action kicking around today.
There was also another half to the episode, and one has to wonder whether the title applies equally to Ban as well. I enjoyed Ban’s travels with Jericho, if only because Jericho is so clearly gung-ho to get Ban in bed. Otome Jericho is a delight to behold. (Though I feel bad for her, since she’s destined to be disappointed since Ban only has eyes for Elaine, but hopefully Jericho will grow from the whole experience.) As for the old werefox, well. I guess we’ll learn more about where the flashbacks his presence triggered are going to go next week.
- It appears that Meliodas has a type when it comes to animal companions. Or … well, I’ll keep my guesses to myself.
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