「僕たちに欠けたもの」 (Bokutachi ni Kaketa Mono)
“What We Lacked”
A good rule of thumb in storytelling is that coincidences should only be used to get characters into trouble, not out of it. So you can have your protagonist just happen to run into an antagonist in the middle of a bazaar, and that’s fine, but having your protag just happen to run into an ally in that same bazaar right when they needed them is a no-no. It’s cheating, and unlike reality, we hold fiction to a higher standard than that.
The other rule of thumb is that, if it works, it works. All things are forgiven if you can pull it off. All these rules are really more of guidelines, and all of them can be violated, save for one: don’t waste your reader’s time. Nanatsu no Taizai (the anime) has been guilty of that before, but this ain’t one of those times. This time, the coincidence works.
I’m talking, of course, about the twist that the old dying werefox was actually Ban’s long lost father figure, Zhivago (Suwabe Junichi). It’s cheap, and I won’t deny that it detracts from the scene in ways that would have been absent had their reunion been more earned, but I also won’t deny that the moment when Ban reveals that he never hated Zhivago, and that he would have hated him if he learned that he’d abandoned his real son, was—*sniff* What? I’m not crying, you’re crying! Dammit, it just worked, okay? It’s a cheap move, but those can still strike true. YMMV, of course.
I think the reason it worked, for me, was that Zhivago didn’t betray Ban. That’s a decision Suzuki-sensei could have made, just as the other adults betrayed Ban earlier. But instead Zhivago was forced into the impossible position of having to choose between his sons. That meant that I wanted that happy end for Zhivago, so when Suzuki-sensei gave it to us, it was appreciated, even if it was too convenient.
The other half of the episode was all about training, and I really don’t have a lot to say about it. It was fun enough to watch, and it needs to happen in some form for Team Sins to have a credible chance against the Ten Commandments, but it stands on its own well enough without me having anything to add. It’s the final moments that really drew my attention.
Is this the first time someone has said aloud that Meliodas is from the Demon Clan? Or how it’s peculiar that he knows the names of the Ten Commandments, who were sealed 3000 years ago? I love how King’s sudden suspicion of Meliodas fits so well, because he’s primed to be on the lookout for betrayal after Hendrickson reappears. That’s King’s state of mind, so it stands to reason that he’d ask the question. That we’re getting a brawl between two of the Sins—and they’re roughly equal in power since Meliodas hasn’t received his power back yet, not until he polishes up the ol’ bod—and that it makes sense as far as the character’s motivations and mental states go, is an added delight. I can’t wait to see them duke it out!
- But seriously though, if Hendrickson was in fact not in control of his actions, that’s a good argument for it not being his fault. It’s not like drunk driving, where the driver presumably had something to do with getting drunk. It’s more like being forcibly strapped into a fighter jet, only this fighter jet is actually a drone that someone else is piloting, and then being accused of murder after the drone bombs a bunch of people. It really wasn’t his fault! Also this is why I hate mind control magic, among so many reasons.
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