「兄と弟」 (Ani to otouto)
“Big Brother and Little Brother”
It’s going to be a bit of a short one this week as I’m traveling at the moment. But I always want to use that qualifier with an episode like this one, lest anyone mistake brevity for lack of enthusiasm. This was yet another killer episode of Ousama Ranking, which just keeps hammering them out week after week. I’m in the midst of compiling my top 10 list for 2021 (one of the hardest if not the hardest I’ve done for LiA), and I can say with complete confidence – if Ousama Ranking were a single cour series and eligible, it would be my top show of 2021.
It’s especially agonizing to be so brief with a series as densely packed with content and deep as this one. First of all that whole business with Miranjo being in the same prison as Daida – what are we to make of that? Did mirror Miranjo consume this one as Bosse did Daida, or is something else going on here? In any event it’s further character development for Daida, who falls into protector mode naturally despite what the others in the void – Miranjo’s victims – say about her.
I quite enjoyed seeing Bebin and Sorii (Sorii is the prime minister, if you forgot – I know I did) mentor the young Daida. The adults in this cast are all fascinating, complicated people – but then, so are the kids. Hilling tried to set Daida on the right path by pushing him to look after Bojji, but he lost the way. Being brought low has accomplished what Bebin and Sorii’s trips to town did not – showed Daida that he doesn’t understand what real strength is, and that he’s no one to be judging others. Daida has done some bad things to be sure, but he’s a child and showing the ability to grow through his mistakes. He’s earned a second chance on my book.
Meanwhile, we have someone using a “lost power” to free dangerous criminals (most especially the swordsman Ouken) from the Underworld’s prison. Who and why isn’t made clear, but for Death-har this is an opportunity. Under the guise of sending his men after the criminals, he wants to take advantage of the chaos in Bosse’s realm – a “civil war” as he calls it – to steal the kingdom. It seems very likely that Death-har and his brother are going to wind up on opposite sides of a major conflict, though I’m not sure either of them is aware of it yet.
If Death-par does turn out to be a bad egg, I’m going to be pretty pissed because I’ve really come to love the guy. He’s a perfect combination of goofiness and genius, and his affection for Bojji seems absolutely genuine. He arranges for Bojji to ride along with the king’s guard (which implies at least a professional courtesy between them) in order to get home more quickly. After being spread to the winds for a while most of the major players in the story are on a collision course – which was a fitting way to end the first cour, as we head into the new year break. One last thought – the music this week was absolutely epic, which perfectly matched the tone of the episode itself. Bring on that second cour – if it’s as good as this one, 2022 has a very strong contender for AotY on its hands.