「潜魚狩り(前編)」 (Sengyo kari (zenpen))
There are definitely times when Kami no Tou starts to swallow its own tail, and this episode is one of them for me. What do I mean by that? At the best and worst of times there’s a distinct geekiness to this series – a sense of the author getting swept up in the pomp and complexity of the world he’s created. That’s definitely one of the series’ charms (I can think of other excellent shounen that do this to a degree, but no two in quite the same way). Because, of course, when it works you get swept up in his enthusiasm as a reader (viewer). But boy, you do have to embrace the silliness sometimes.
I don’t think anyone should feel compelled to the this week’s setup too seriously. After getting approval from the administrator (who again notes how delicious he looks) Bam and and Rachel and allowed to proceed to the next level of the test. They’re stuck inside a shinsu bubble and their goal is simple – be eaten by the queen of the adorbs “net dolphins“. Yes, being eaten is the goal – but only by the dolphins. If the barnacle goblins with their herds of wetworms or the striped earthpigs or worst of all the bull eat them first, they lose. And so, of course, does everybody else.
As for the support team, that’s pretty much their role here – keep the wrong creatures from eating Bam and Rachel before the right one does. Everyone slips into the slot their positions dictate, with Khun (as ever) directing traffic. Even little Narae gets into the action eventually. The Jahad princesses seem, as usual, more interested in noodging each other than the test, and Rak (back to full size) chafes at not having the opportunity to hunt or fight anything himself. As for Shibisu (one of the all-time anime schlimazels) he draws the short straw again and winds up facing down the bull while Anak and Endorsi foot-wrestle.
As always, the conversations between Bam and Rachel are interesting. And they have plenty of time to talk, since they have no active role in this test at all. Bam reveals that the administrator asked him what he wanted at the top of the tower, and the first thing that popped into his head was Rachel’s face. The second was the cafeteria, with everyone eating together. This is the Bam that Shibisu says he wants to protect – the innocence he possesses is a foreign phenomenon in the tower. Bam is indeed, as she says, having fun. But Rachel is as inscrutable as ever in her reactions.
The wrinkle her is Ren, our onigiri friend. If he’s to be believed Yu set this whole thing up so he could destroy Anak, the bogus princess – and he does rather relish taking her down, as a helpless Endorsi looks on. Ren has the same ability Narae does, anima – but he’s powerful enough to use it on the bull, not just a skyfish in a jug. What isn’t made clear is whether Anak is being obsessively hunted down this way our of simple disgust over her existence because she actually poses a threat, but it does seem pretty obvious that the King of the Tower isn’t someone you want pissed off at you.