「戻れぬ想い」 (Modorenu Omoi)
“Feelings that Won’t Return”
Remind me; did the Mask of Deception anime adaptation have the scene where Kuon goes full daughter of the dark god and massacres a bunch of vaguely evil people? I forget, but I have this impression of playing the game later and being surprised by that scene, in a good way. It was a powerful, gut-punch finale to Kuon’s side of the story, whereas I have no clear memory of what happened to Kuon in the anime at all. She just kind of ‘was sad’ and could have sailed west to the Grey Havens for all I remember.
if only there was a website that blogs anime on a weekly basis and even includes 30-36 carefully curated screenshots that I can reference. Oh well.
It is unfortunate that Kuon is such a continuity breaker in the anime adaptations. The 2006 anime cut the circumstances of her conception entirely so when the second anime came along, those who haven’t played the game (many at that time, I imagine) would have no idea where she sprang from. I guess they can be forgiven for that; who could tell what seemingly secondary plot point will become important in 9 years time? For different reasons, I can understand why the second anime may have somehow lost the scene of Kuon flipping out; the game hadn’t even gone gold yet when they were making the anime and it’s entirely possible that they didn’t even know that the scene existed.
But, a mistake is a mistake. Kuon is at the very least the deutoragonist, with a story that meaningfully mirrors Haku’s. To simply misplace parts of her background and characterisation reduces the anime’s ability to stand on its own. To White Fox’s credit, they’ve tried to fix it. Sure, now is not the best place for the scene – it’s a bit late in the piece and loses impact as a flashback and, try as the episode might, it still had to segue rather awkwardly in and out of a dramatic scene with its emotional insert song. And if it was going to try to apply a fix at all, now is the best time to do it. You’ve no doubt heard of the ‘three episode rule’ and I’ve talked about the three act structure before. The fourth episode is often a good point for an anime to pause, reflect, and recontextualise.
It’s also a good opportunity for Kuon to make make her main heroine appeal to the audience again. It’s not much but she still is, after everything that has happened, the cheesecake.
Overall, I think this was a good episode primarily because of how necessary it was. Well, the throwaway amnesia subplot is less necessary and more transitional, but certainly setting right Kuon’s character, establishing her motivations, and reminding us that there is a whole other continent we’re supposed to care about is something we had to do prior to Kuon taking up her own mantle and pushing the next chapter of the plot into motion.