「獅竜、共闘」 (Shi Ryuu, Kyoutou)
“The Lion and the Dragon Unite”
Oh boy if there was ever a showcase of SnS’s, erm, uniqueness, this episode would be it. We got the speedbump fights, the sacrificial enemies, the confusing and ungrounded game mechanics, and—oh yes—the usual relationship infighting with entirely predictable outcomes. Harsh though it may sound, this week was truly the perfect storm of everything problematic with SnS, and the show went all in on every single point.
While having been brought up before, this week threw back the veil on one of my biggest pet peeves with SnS: just who the hell is the enemy? A big baddie being kept waiting in the wings is understandable for longevity mind you, but just what was the purpose of our united guild duo? Never once were their reasons for actually wanting Asahi explained, and while I can get behind delusions of utopia and creating a perfect world (if being entirely forgettable), never once were they elaborated on or those obvious ulterior motives discussed (see the moment before blondie’s death). In the end both just existed for the sake of saying they existed, although I’ll give some credit to our dude in red armour: that was a hilariously impressive bit of head on motorboating.
Part of my bewilderment this week though may stem from the fact SnS can no longer hide the fact its game world is, for all intents and purpose, just a name. It’s been a running concern for a while now, but beyond initial appearances there is no real depth to anything game-related mentioned. The guilds are the biggest example in this case considering their lack of any noticeable ties to the story, but magic and its use really made its presence felt here. Just what are the Senses, where are they drawing their impressive powers from, and what are the boundaries on this power? It’s one thing to have wildly amazing abilities (and often it what is drives this type of story), but damn is it too much to ask to place them in context with the setting? A mana pool, HP bars, hell even some shounen-esque measure of power difference between people? The stuff may look cool in practice, but even with its story importance you need something to ground these abilities or in the end it’s just a bunch of story-specific jargon without any of the fluff required to properly explain it away.
Now to be fair there’s still time for SnS to give an explanation or two, although whether we reach that point before season’s end remains to be seen. From events this week it’s now known that awakening refers to each Subaru member’s Sense ability and that one of the missing members (Clive) was seemingly involved in the Asahi kidnapping attempt along with our recurring unknown in Elicia. Given the flashback supports the idea of someone wanting to utilize Asahi’s Sense outside of “normal” conditions this is an intriguing revelation because it suggests that one or more members Subaru may be involved in Asahi’s current state. Probably not deliberately mind you (that would be one meaty twist), but via family and other friends? Definitely possible. With the Subaru Senses being the key (in part) to rescuing Asahi and Clive apparently knowing what’s going on, I wouldn’t put it past one or both missing members to understand what’s required. It would certainly one way of tying up some of these loose plot ends.
Whether we get any of those answers in the upcoming beach episode, well, that (and quite a few other choice things) we’ll just have to wait and see on.