「神々との争い」 (Kamigami to no arasoi)
“Battle With the Gods”
Nope, still don’t feel sorry for her.
One thing I’m noticing with Ousama Ranking is that the second halves of episodes are almost invariably better than the first. This is a series that clearly knows something about intra-episodic pacing, a trait it shares with an awful lot of really good anime. It also knows how to dole out exposition while still maintaining a sense of mystery. That’s a crucial skill for any dramatic anime, but especially one with as much detail as Ranking of Kings. The fact that Tooka Sousuke has crafted an incredibly rich and intricate mythology makes it easier in the sense that there are seemingly always more secrets to introduce to the plot, but in lesser hands all that content could easily overwhelm the narrative and make it a ponderous affair.
I’m still wrestling with the whole Miranjo angle. Not so much my own feelings about it (no sympathy), but what Tooka wants us to feel. Bosse says she’s person who’s “most dear” to him, which is quite a statement given that he has two sons and has had two wives. Much of Bosse’s life, it seems to me, comes down to a series of “end justifies the means” decisions. That’s not unique to him – look at Desha (all right, I give, it’s easier to type anyway). It’s a major theme in Ousaka Ranking, but it seems most stark with Bosse.
It seems as if Bosse is intentionally showing the imprisoned Daida memories of his past with Miranjo as he relates it to Bebin. That’s interesting on multiple levels, starting with the fact that he can do it in the first place. He knows what fate he’s inflicted on Daida, of that there can be no doubt. But what does he gain by showing Daida – presumably trapped in limbo forever as far as Bosse is concerned – these memories? Is he trying to justify himself to the son he betrayed in an attempt to assuage his own conscience? It doesn’t really matter to me what these flashbacks show in the sense that Bosse has already revealed himself to be a morally bankrupt person. But in the larger context of the story, they certainly matter.
So what do they show? A young Bosse traveling the world, searching for strong people to kill as a way of leveling himself up. Eventually he finds his way to the Houma Kingdom, a land of magicians (whose healing powers look exactly like Hilling’s). Houma was the first human kingdom to take on the power of the Gods, who rule over humans and apparently aren’t very nice about it. After Bosse kills Miranjo’s father he seemingly falls in love with her mother – or at least, sees himself as Miranjo’s stepfather. Eventually Houma tries to ally itself with the Gyakuza Kingdom, a downtrodden land of cold-heated and deceptive people who make a poor ally indeed. They betray and murder Miranjo’s mother, which presumably (we’ll know next week, I suppose) leads to Bosse taking a direct role in her life.
Meanwhile, the battle between Ouken and Bojji is going largely as Despa predicted it would. Bojji is only a human after all (and a tiny one), and Ouken seemingly has no limits of stamina (and can regenerate himself and his equipment). Kage is desperate to intervene, but Bojji just as desperate for him not to. Domas and Hokuro (forgiven a lot faster by Hilling than Domas deserves) are off to try and help (if they can) but too far away to prevent tragedy. Despa does arrive in the nick of time, and using the captain’s spear as a lightning rod is able to call in an air strike from Desha. But Oukan has figured out how to channel the lighting to the right side of his body, sparing his heart and brain, and apparently he’s immune to pain.
Oy, what a mess. If indeed not even Desha can stop Ouken, who the hell can – except Miranjo? Kage and Bojji are desperate to sacrifice themselves for the other, but Despa isn’t about to let either do that. Despa truly does seem to be a wholly good person, and he still dreams of finding a way to rescue his brother from the hell he’s trapped in. But if there’s any part of Ouken still inside that flesh bag, it seems powerless. Tragedy is in the air in a big way, and the stakes are raised as high as they’ve been in 18 episodes.
I’ve been finding the fact that Hilling seems to save just about everyone who should rightly be dead a bit of a narrative crutch, to the point where’s it’s become a little irritating. But in this situation I found myself fervently hoping someone would tear off and fetch her, because Despa dying here (or anytime, really) would seriously suck – he’s probably the most charismatic adult in the cast. With Despa down things are looking despa-rate indeed, but Kage (perhaps involuntarily, prompted by that desperation) shows us a new side of himself. It’s been obvious for a while that Shadow Clan have some sort of extra-dimensional element to their nature, but it looks like this is the moment we’re finally going to get an explanation for it.