「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.


  1. In the Itsuwari no Kamen anime there is a scene near the end where Kuon and Nosuri (carrying princess Anju) are surrounded by a troop of Imperial archers. A volley of arrows heads toward the three of them and it looks like the end. Inexplicably, Kuon’s eyes go blank, she starts glowing, the arrows catch fire, and a firebolt levels the whole troop and several city blocks behind them. Kuon and Nosuri keep going without discussion and no mention is made of it after that. I don’t know the game, so I don’t know whether that’s the scene you had in mind or not. The only other hint I can think of is that when, even later than that, Kuon meets Benawi during a raid he accuses her of just fooling around rather than taking the battle seriously. She asks what he means and he says “everyone knows” she could level half the country on her own if she were serious. So there were clues she has access to a serious level of destructive power if the conditions are right, but absolutely nothing was explained that I ever caught.

    1. Itsuwari no Kamen’s anime ending was panned a bit because they butchered it going off memory. This was before S3 was officially announced, but I remember people saying it’d mess with things a bit given what they’d done.

    2. I do think I recall the scene you’re talking about! Thanks for mentioning it. But the scene I’m thinking of in the game is near the very end, after Kuon leaves the party and is pursued by shady assassin types. She concludes that the assassins must also be linked to Haku’s ‘death’ and, in a fate of rage, kills them all in somewhat horrific fashion. And, very importantly as I’m sure many will agree, it leads to birthday suit Kuon.

      The scene was important not just because it demonstrates Kuon’s hidden power (which, as you’ve pointed out, does get hinted along the way) but also it ties this power with Kuon’s emotional response. It made it personal and visceral. And it showed that Kuon didn’t inherit power so much as divinity, and her father is not just a god, but a god of wrath.

  2. Hearing the original game’s OST and songs hit me with such nostalgia. Those who are interested from watching the anime should definitely play the game. The impact is just on a different level.

  3. Any idea why the anime was delayed so much?
    (I’ve asked it in the first ep review but my comment was nevered posted it seems),

    I can assume Covid was part of it ofc, but the 3rd game was released at 2016,
    So they had around 4 years before that to get a green light.

    1. There are likely a number of reasons (big ones being COVID, waiting for the 1st game to be remade) but if it was a choice between the anime being rushed and the anime getting delayed I would rather the latter. I feel Itsuwari no Kamen suffered for having to be released alongside the game; I rather White Fox have the opportunity to take in the entire trilogy holistically before going about adapting its conclusion.

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