This show so far seems pretty direct in its intentions (a classic drama of identity, legacy, and impermanence cast in a stylized version of an evocative era dipped in Isin’s witty comedy and stabilized by two standout lead characters and a variety of creative self-contained adventures… okay maybe that’s actually not so direct after all), so I’ll probably just be talking about characterization and elements of craft. I’m also pretty much programmed to like something as meta and storytelling-focused as Togame’s focus on her memoirs, so that might get some love too. Either way, I hope it continues to be as good as those first two episodes.
0:38 – Man, these backgrounds are gorgeous. #1 art design.
2:11 – Dem OP lyrics – the beauty of the flower in the wind as it falls. Big red warning light
Pointing that out kinda makes me want to talk about foreshadowing in general, but that topic might require a full essay or something. For now, I’ll just say that after a certain point in media consumption, huge, unbelievable twists generally just cease to exist. To paraphrase Dr. Manhattan , most good stories carry reflections of their whole in every facet – their themes, their tone, the underlying structure, all consistent throughout. This doesn’t mean shows should hammer on the foreshadowing – it means that for many styles of stories, they really shouldn’t have to, because the pieces just fit. I think Madoka might be anime’s most flawless example of this, at least among shows I’ve seen – every element of that show’s structure, characterization, narrative, and themes are all perfectly representative of each other. And in most cases, “foreshadowing” is really just good storytelling – like in a musical arrangement, narrative strains should often be introduced lightly, one note at a time, so their ultimate prominence arrives as a seamless element of the whole.
By the way, I’m not trying to imply all stories should be predictable or anything – I’m saying internal consistency lends storytelling weight. It’d be pretty impossible to see the first couple episodes of Kino’s Journey and extrapolate the rest from there, but that show still has plenty of internal thematic and narrative consistency. For more classically structured shows, the beats are generally more transparent, but the specifics don’t have to be – I don’t know what the stories the rest of this show tells will be, but I can hazard a guess at where the character’s emotional arcs will take them, and what will happen at the end.
3:04 – The size contrast between them is always pretty crazy
6:40 – The crimes of all the restless shrine maidens are crimes against their family or family name, and this denies them inner peace. Ding ding ding
8:42 – “Two of the swords that General Kyuu could not.” Wait, have we heard that name before?
12:47 – “They are most likely tied together by fate.” You don’t say!
16:18 – Our unfaithful samurai shares Togame’s white hair, and as the show just pointed out, hair doesn’t get like that without some serious cause
19:33 – Man, this ninja is camp as fuck. The villains all seem to completely agree with Togame’s thoughts regarding characterization in epic storytelling. “S-so… cool…”
20:02 – Even if they are crazy, these shrine maidens are still adorable
25:42 – “Sympathy tactic, failed.” Sorry lady, Shichika’s pretty much true neutral – his loyalties do not correlate to any standard morality
This “sword-as-strength” stuff is interesting, but I don’t think they’ve fully explored it enough for me to comment yet. But it’s clear that between this episode, last episode, and Shichika’s status as a swordless swordsman, it’s something they’re going to continue working with
26:18 – “It’s because I’m a sword. My body and soul don’t move for anyone but Togame.” Oh. Well. There’ssomewhere they’re going with this – sword as emotional support, swordsman as complete human. It also fits with his absolute neutrality, since a weapon does not care who it strikes, and concerns of morality only lie with the swordsman
28:36 – “I also slew my father.” Well doesn’t that just horrifically complicate everything
36:00 – “Yes, I believed in it. It was my everything.” This identity stuff is interesting, but it pretty much articulates itself. I’m getting put out of a job
36:54 – “Father died, along with every one of his disciples.” Yeeeep. Identity, legacy, impermanence.
38:05 – Her bandit outfit is similar to Togame’s. Her current outfit mirrors the shrine itself
45:35 – I like Togame’s hesitance to control him here. I’m not sure exactly what the message is – whether it’s that she doesn’t want to admit the blood is really on her hands or not, or whether she just doesn’t want to admonish him in general, but it makes for a nice little parallel with the whole fate thing. Neither of them really have control of the situation, and so they’re just playing their roles to whatever end this must go
Breaking news: this show is still good. The consistency of its themes and their articulations make it actually harder to write about, since I feel like I’m pretty swiftly repeating myself. Tune in next time!