Episode 25

Episode 26

「糸を引く者 / ジョン・スミス」 (Ito o Hiku Mono / Jyon Sumisu)
“He Who Pulls The Strings / John Smith”

Leave it to me to binge two Eminence in Shadow episodes in a week, get hyped to talk about all the latest gut busting, deadpan manoeuvring of the titular larper extraordinaire, only to succumb to the curse of Delta being Delta and making me forget about that super serious (not) plot literally rolling along in the background. Is this introduction supposed to make sense? Probably – but I’m still too busy laughing at this show pulling some of its best material to date to try harder. Sometimes the anime watching do be like that.

One of my bigger complaints from Eminence in Shadow’s first season was the lack of focus on many of Shadow Garden’s secondary cast. Cid is a riot, we’re all here for the chuuni insanity, but such a diverse support crew deserve more than the occasional screenshot and teaser before moving onto the next big arc. Although debatable that this is still lacking in spots, having the likes of Alpha, Gamma (especially Gamma), and Delta effectively act as reverse antagonists makes for a noticeable improvement, especially when paired with Eminence in Shadow’s usual comedy. Big bads doing the naughty vis a vis counterfeit currency? Why we’ll track it down and do the one thing which ironically does what Cid was after in the first place – i.e. making a ridiculous amount of money. If it kills of yet another limb of the cult in the process too hey, it’s an added bonus replete with new and fanciful ways of expressing that larping passion. Never say Cid is one for missing an opportunity, even if some of them take a little more effort to realize than others.

What I particularly liked about this “secondary” focus however is how it relates back to Cid being a complete (and hilarious) enigma even for his subordinates. I was waiting for example for one of the girls to discern he was John Smith: it was always going to happen as that point alone is another checkmark off for the kid on the old super secret agent mission roleplay. Having both Delta and Alpha figure it out though was a surprise, and mostly because the latter plays to her role more seriously than the former for, well, pretty clear reasons (Delta good girl who deserves all the head pats). It’s in a way a more acerbic play on the usual ambiguity Cid leverages as with Eta, something which will get the one(s) involved thinking longer and harder on what Cid is after, and subsequently acting in more extreme ways to realize what they believe that objective actually is. Alpha after all never got a reply to her central question of usefulness after confronting Cid; she’s going to try and prove it emphatically, particularly given Cid’s answers for the more serious minded could be interpreted in multiple ways. It may be unclear just how that will play out plot-wise, but oh boy am I looking forward to seeing how it does so comedy-wise.

And rest assured, whatever does come will be pretty damn hilarious.

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