「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…

14 Comments

  1. That was exhilarating. As pointed out, so much to unpack, so much great stuff.

    Haatz’ tense moment before Quant’s terrifying attack — what a fantastic scene. I’m disappointed that it couldn’t garner any screenshots here but given what a dense episode this was I can’t find fault with the selection. The moment was helped when the music was shut off as he gazed into the darkness and then cranked up again when Quant came roaring out of it. I typically dislike slow motion but occasionally it helps and given how fast Quant moves, I think it was necessary here.

    Endorsi is trying to goad Bam into massive ‘self-improvement’. ‘This is what it means to climb the tower.’ She’s really taken to him.

    A difference between the methods of Endorsi and Khun is that when all is said and done, the A-Team thinks he fought the good fight. Endorsi, at least to some of the B-Team, is a cold-blooded murderer.

    A similarity in their methods is how both of them defeated Quant with a combination of sleight of hand and the skillful use of plausibility.

    I don’t think that Endorsi betrayed her own beliefs (vis-à-vis Bam’s). Rather, he cracked open her mind a little and by the end of the episode, she had moved on. She had him pegged as utterly and dysfunctionally naive but when he told her that he knew how Rachel felt but was going to do what he wanted regardless, this affected her. It’s the final thing she told him to do before her showdown with Quant — she even made Quant wait so she could tell this to Bam.

    The girl who lectured Bam and described her own childhood with red splotches isn’t the same one talking with him at the end of the episode. The first time around there was but a single way forward for him. By the end, she is telling him to follow his own path. She’s actually feeling empathy. Whodda thunk it? And now, like Bam, she’s doing something for someone else without that other person even wanting her to.

    Endorsi is changing (which is ironic in that her intention was to change Bam — and at some level this is fundamental to the story). She’s using guile in addition to superior force, she’s thinking about others, she’s conversing with people rather than just commenting snidely at them. How else will it affect her?

    Meanwhile, I must laud some great work this episode by the seiyuu, especially Nabatame Hitomi (as Serena) and Suegara Rie (as Endorsi, who often sounds like HanaKana but even better in some respects).

    One question I have is how much of the showdown did those in the waiting room actually see?

    Another would be: Why was Hoh abduction of Rachel so problematic but Endorsi’s permanent sidelining of her team’s other fishers not even noticed by the administrators? Why was it never on the big screen?

    Mockman
    1. To answer your final question: they simply don’t care, they have to judge, yes, but anyone is free to act as they please as long it makes them eligible to pass the test.
      Of course, you have a ranker like Quantz who fucking hates traitors and Hoh’s willingness to kill Rachel goes way beyond a “simple” betrayal, so that’s that.

      Elia Notari
      1. But Hoh’s activities generated a nice boat moment. The two administrators reacted to it, with Lero Ro calling it an emergency.

        Meanwhile, nobody even noticed what Endorsi was up to let alone considered taking action. And while the fate of Cheonhwa and Green Pil is as yet unknown to us, she implied to Serena (and us) to imagine the worst. While Green Pil was a bootlicker extraordinaire, neither he nor especially Cheonhwa deserved such a fate (as maybe the Revolution did).

        Mockman
          1. You may be right. She looked like she was in a mood when she told them that playtime was over but she was already starting to change (in my mind at least) so maybe she just took the good sword and gave them some lumps. And the one guy did offer to quit.

            Mockman
  2. A couple of episodes ago, there was some discussion over the show’s future prospects. I did a search on the show’s producers including Junkoo Kim (NB Kim is the creator of Webtoon) and stumbled upon this interview from 2015. He mostly talks about the Webtoon platform but when asked for reading recommendations, he had this to say:

    “Mr. Kim: I recommend ‘Noblesse’ or ‘Tower of God’ to anyone who likes Japanese manga. They are in the process of making both into movies and games as well.”

    So they’ve been planning something for this story for quite a while now. Given how much has gone into this production, I can’t help but imagine that they have more planned for it — even if it’s just to better profit from it.

    https://comicbastards.com/comics/an-interview-with-junkoo-kim-creator-of-line-webtoon/

    Mockman
    1. If the intended sales medium(Be it novels or whatever) looks good, it’ll get further seasons. If they don’t look good they simply won’t talk about the show again and will move on. Having great physical media sales is great too but not the be all end all in this day and age.

      Lyfe
  3. Pingback: Other Posts to Crow About – 2020 Week 22 Edition

        1. Interesting. Thanks for the link.

          FWIW, I think that the anime adaptation is an improvement on the original but maybe I just need to read more of the latter. I think that the translation may contribute to that feeling as well. I should look more closely at it once the season is over.

          Interesting use of colour. It doesn’t feel right to see Endorsi wearing practical shoes.

          Mockman
          1. I agree about the quality of the art. One of the themes of the show is how attractive Bam is to the myriad women he encounters. It sort of rings hollow based on the artwork I saw in that chapter. Numerous other characters would similarly be affected.

            I’d also give the nod to the anime’s dialogue — in that chapter, I’d include the back and forth between Endorsi and Quant as well as Serena’s monologue (I dunno if talking to a corpse counts as dialogue but I’ll include it :). While translation could be an element of that, I think it goes beyond it. They have been willing to cut what needs cutting and rewrite what needs rewriting.

            As for this being the high point of the story, that goes towards it being a good adaptation. While I can’t speak for the webtoon, I do think they’re doing a great job with the anime. I feel that every frame, every conversation, and every expression is meaningful and — so far — a good use of the time they have each episode.

            Mockman

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *