「片角の鬼」 (Katakaku no oni)
“The One-Horned Ogre”
Bam’s teammates definitely picked the wrong episode to nap.
So before we begin, yeah – an awful lot happened on Kami no Tou this week. A lot more than in a comparable chunk of narrative time in this part of the manhwa. The anime has places to be and 12 episodes to get there – it’s part of the territory and I knew that going in. But I must say, in spite of the manic pacing this episode totally worked for me – it was a banger. And the ability to do that is normally a pretty good test of an adaptation.
Endorsi was a core figure in a lot of what happened here, starting with her backstory. She seems to have taken it on herself to be the bad cop to Khun’s good cop when it comes to teaching Bam the ways of the Tower (Jahad princesses seem to be predisposed to liking baby-faced boys). In Endrosi’s vision of the world, there’s no teamwork and no mercy – literally everyone is competition and nothing more. And she has good reason to feel that way, having grown up in an environment so competitive that how you compared to your rivals literally decided whether you got enough to eat.
That’s why for Endorsi, like Khun, the “teams” in this game of tag are basically irrelevant. We’re seeing that the big dogs think differently than the runts – they’re playing a kind of Sheldon Cooper quadrilateral chess while the zaku are scuttling around the checker board. Endorsi wants to eliminate as many fishermen as she can – partly to ensure she herself passes (though she figures she’s a lock) but also – surprisingly – to make sure Anak does too. Is this a betrayal of her own philosophy and teaching to Bam? Frankly it looks like it to me – but that doesn’t stop her from wiping out the two small fry with the ignition weapon. Still – for her, it’s Quant who’s an opponent worth fighting.
Hoh, meanwhile, enacts his plan to try and live by Endorsi’s rules even though he’s one of the small fry. He’s been suckered (we still don’t know by who) into taking out Rachel on the grounds that this will bring out Bam – who’s Hoh’s competition. Hoh can lament the unfairness of the Tower (in Serena he has a sympathetic ear, if nothing else) but that doesn’t mean he can change it. Still, his terrorism is an annoyance for Quant, who’s not supposed to have anybody die on his watch. Bam is indeed drawn out by what’s happened, and the three of them end up in a showdown where Bam laments Hoh’s betrayal but refuses to sell out Rachel.
Lots of interesting stuff to unpack here. Quant shows Bam (by using it on him) a technique of “flooding” the opponent with shinsu and temporarily paralyzing him. I think it’s fair to say he didn’t expect Bam to master it as fast as he did – and that would be faster than Quant mastered it himself. Digest that because it’s important, but there’s not much time to dwell on it as things move fast at this point – Hoh stabs Rachel, Bam paralyzes Hoh, Endorsi shows up and announces she’s going to take on Quant and win the game for Team B after all. Eventually Hoh realizes how utterly screwed he is and decides to end things, and Bam proves that he’s even willing to shed tears for someone who betrayed him.
Endorsi can lecture Bam all he wants, but he’s as determined as ever that he’s going to protect Rachel, even if she wants no part of that. With the matter of Hoh settled and Rachel bleeding in Bam’s arms, Quant and Endorsi finally have their main event. And while Bam manages to turn Quant’s technique back on him, it’s through trickery (and panties) that she defeats him and secures the win for Team B. As for Bam, his education continues apace, but he’s got some hard decisions to make about what his priorities are. And with every unexpected display of freakish talent, more attention from the powers in the Tower…