“Return of the Prince”
I was kind of surprised by the fairly negative reaction last week’s episode of Ousama Ranking received in certain quarters. In part of course because the zeitgeist about the series has been almost universally positive since its premiere, but mostly because I thought it was good. Maybe not the series’ best, but I didn’t have any major issues with it. The animation has obviously slipped to an extent in the last couple of episodes, and that’s certainly a concern going forward. But it was starting from such a high level that even a step down still ranks it near the top where currently airing TV anime are concerned.
Mind you, I don’t consider the show perfect or anything. I’m finding Hilling’s healing power to be something of a plot get-out-of-jail free card (though happily it has limitations, as we’ll get to shortly). And I was a little disappointed at the source of Bojji’s new ability – rather than arduous training it seems to have sprung from a Vulcan mind meld with Death-par (though that may have just been the first step on the path to mastering it). But the big moments are being nailed, and this episode was certainly full of big moments.
As far as I’m concerned it’s still not totally clear how the power faultlines run in this series. Bosse-Daida clearly could have intervened on Hilling’s behalf – his busting his cell door right in front of Bebin is proof that he’s going along with his imprisonment by choice. Hilling’s despair as she saw Dorsche being ripped apart in front of her was almost enough to pull him into the fray, but not quite. With Mitsumata soon jumping it itself, what does that tell us? Was this done on Bosse’s orders, as part of an agreed course between Bebin and Bosse, or did Bebin order it without Bosse’s knowledge?
Dorsche certainly needed saving, in more ways than one. He was prepared to die in Hilling’s service but she wasn’t going along with that plan. Mitsumata gets Dorsche out of the path of the magical beasts but he’s in a pretty bad way – and while Hilling can save his life (turns out those are magical potions she’s drinking, not Red Bulls) her powers don’t extend to re-growing his foot or restoring his eye. It sucks for him but it’s better for the plot that way – this power already pushes the envelope of plot convenience pretty hard.
At this point Bojji (and Kage) arrive on the scene, much to Hilling’s shock. And since Gigan has just thoroughly kicked Mitsumata’s scales it’s a good thing, too. The secret to his power is apparently the truth Death-Par revealed to him, which basically amounts to being able to see the weak points in the molecular bonds holding things together. That’s quite a modern twist for a medieval fantasy series, but it’s an ability that certainly suits Bojji to a T. Even Gigan is no match for it, but he’s already done a number on Mitsumata and Hilling’s well has run dry. Just why was Kage packing her healing potions, I wonder – if indeed that’s what was in those blue bottles.
The reunion was everything you could have hoped it would be. Bojji is so pure he can’t help grieving even when his enemies are wounded, and Hilling has a very tough time saying no to him. My favorite thing about this whole exchange was Kage calling Hilling a dumbass, which she kind of had coming. But in her defense, she’s kind of right about Bojji not being able to be everyone’s friend if he’s going to be king (and about his lack of bearing). As full of bluster as she is Hilling is clearly a pretty soft touch.
Lastly, we hav the matter of Ouken and his (I’m assuming) brothers. Death-Par ascribes his descent into demonhood as being due to his gaining immortality – which seems to be connected to Miranjo. I’d thought Death-Har (lightning is his headline skill) was in this to try and add Bosse’s kingdom to his collection and maybe take out Death-Par, but the implication here is that he and his brother are on the same page, and their real intent is to defeat Miranjo. We’ve recently had an announcement that the anime will cover the entire “Part I” section of the manga (which just ended) which implies we’re going to see a resolution, albeit perhaps an intermediate one. But that still lives Ousama Ranking with a ton of ground to cover over the next nine episodes.