「鬼と人間」 (Oni to Ningen)
“Ogres and Humans”
Although Peach Boy Riverside’s 2nd episode wasn’t as keen on jumping around the story’s timeline as the 1st one did, the jarring tonal shifts are here to stay as Meki and Sett’s respective fights with Mikoto and Sally prove to be fatal. But when Meki ends up being spared to live out the rest of her life as a human, she is thrown into circumstances that are as worrisome as they are harrowing.
One key takeaway from Episode 02 is that, perhaps, it would be unwise for Sally to reunite with Mikoto. Throughout his fight with Meki, he carries himself through the fight as a complete psychopath, reveling in knocking Meki down a peg with each move. He stabs himself through the dirt and lets himself get blasted by Meki’s eye just to show her that it’s ineffective as he kicks her child form to the floor and strips her of her powers.
Sparing her might’ve been him secretly empathizing with Meki rather than sticking with the idea that her being shunned by humans and ogres is a fate worse than death. But based on Mikoto’s unhinged behavior, it’d be hard to cheer for him or get amped up about Sally getting to reunite with an absolute lunatic.
It’s pretty astounding that they managed to make Meki far more sympathetic. Her main motive for attacking humans is her desire for revenge over humans destroying the environment, sapping away at the land, and wasting resources. Her Xian Dao power even merges her ki with nature to solidify her love for the natural world. And because they don’t spell out why humans and ogres are at odds with each other, we can only assume that many of them also share the same Princess Mononoke motivation of wanting to reclaim nature from wasteful humans.
One other thing about Episode 02 is how the tone issue ends up becoming a part of the show’s appeal. It’s kind of charming to see how the show can quickly go from having a big hearty laugh about Sally leading a prison break for Meki to demolishing the entire town of Rimdarl without even bothering to create a cue for the audience to take the last scene seriously. And here we are laughing about Meki being oblivious to her powers being gone by having her give amusingly weak punches to Frau, only for the mood to sour once Meki is actually really heartbroken that all of her powers were robbed from her.
It’s incredibly jarring, especially when Peach Boy Riverside doesn’t shy away from brutal imagery and gory viscera even when the music is comical or triumphant. But it’s that lack of self-awareness that makes it hard to get mad at the show, especially when it drops such heavy material on your lap and just expects you to treat it so casually.