Raphtalia figures out her feelings as she finds her way into a jail cell with L’arc, Glass and Therese.
What This Episode Accomplished
This was a great episode to see Raphtalia, L’arc, Glass and Therese in a completely different light. To get the story moving along, she just so happens to get thrown in jail with the L’arc, Glass and Therese, which leads them to concoct a plan to escape together. In a very “Naofumi-like” way, Raphtalia quickly comes up with a plan to help the new party of 4 escape.
This was a very refreshing episode to see Naofumi’s rivals or technically enemies in a new positive light. With less known characters sharing the center of the spotlight, you’d need some character development right? Is it a camp scene or having a meal scene? The latter. Raphtalia gets hungry which sets off various succession of scenes to show the audience L’arc’s party’s different personalities and interactions. We got to see Therese be caring and doing something slightly naughty. Glass showing a caring, soft and gentle side.
This new look of L’arc, Glass, Therese and Raphtalia working together was a cool new look that we probably won’t ever see again. The bond being built between Raphtalia and the other 3 grows also in the minds of the audience. We know that during the waves, that they will have to meet again as enemies. Deep down as an audience, we know that this is wrong for good natured people to be forced to kill each other, which may breed a bigger plot for the end of the show.
Then, Raphtalia randomly gets chosen by the Katana to be the vassal wielder. Raphtalia storms off with the sword, while Kazuki and his followers hunt her down. Looking back at the end of episode 8, Raphtalia feels the need to prove to herself and Naofumi that she can truly be his sword. That motivation and character arc, carries for the rest of the episode.
The Music was a Hit
Music can add or diminish the portrayal of what the show is aiming for. I’m by no means an expert in music, but we are all experienced in how we interpret scenes with music. Similar to Rishia’s moment against Kyo Ethnina, this episode portrayed Raphtalia in a similar role, using heroic/ climatic music to buildup Raphtalia’s fight against Kazuki. Once she used her “Instant Blade: Mist,” they ditched the music for an even more dramatic effect. Then, it transitioned into the blues-saxophone music.
The blues music could be signifying Raphtalia’s possible end to her journey or the previous version of her. Think back to the cliffhanger of previous episode to when Naofumi lost his slave crest connection to Raphtalia. We’re supposed to be thinking the worst right? For moments that have sad endings like someone dying or losing something significant, the blues music seems rather appropriate. Another way I interpreted this ending scene before Naofumi’s party came to the rescue is that the old Raphtalia will be no more. It just goes to show you how much music can change your interpretation of how scenes and moments are perceived.
Being “the Chosen One” Can Feel Cheap
So, why did the Katana Vassal Weapon choose Raphtalia to be the bearer? That’s a question that doesn’t quite have a clear answer to at this point. We can only assume that the archtype of swords “choosing their master” is picking people with honor, bravery and a good heart to be the case. For the entire season, Raphtalia has been going through a bit of a psychological shift herself. The subtle hints of doubt, jealousy and love for Naofumi is real. Taking Raphtalia away from Naofumi’s party has to be only one of the handful of possible ways to make this character change work. New world, new characters, new abilities and new ways to essentially do something we already know as an audience—to show how much she is actually “in-love” with Naofumi. Hence, the motif of Raphtalia always striving to be “Naofumi’s sword.”
Was it Convincing?
My one consistent critique about anything I watch stems from the thought of “how much were they able to convince me?” It’s kind of like life and death. Everyone dies at some point, but everything in between can be super amazing and exciting or just plain 9 to 5 dull. In this case, I’m referring to the obvious narrative(s) that is being portrayed..
Was the point of this episode suppose to signify the end for Raphtalia? The more the writers and creators can actually convince me that something inconceivable can happen, the more it shows how incredible the storytelling is. In the back of our minds as the viewer, there is just no way in hell that Raphtalia is going to die. If they made the scenes sway more towards Raphtalia being in an actual struggle, JUST MAYBE it would have been a better payoff by the time Naofumi’s party comes to the rescue. In the end, it seems more like an artistic metaphor to show the end of the old Raphtalia, into this new slave-crested-less Katana Hero Raphtalia.
How Did Raphtalia Recover so Quickly?!
From the point on of Raphtalia gaining the vassal weapon felt really incongruent with the “tired, but not tired” actions of Raphtalia. Once she started to run away with the weapon, we’re shown that Raphtalia is physically growing, showing the audience the positive effects of being the Katana Hero, leveling her up. Also, there’s a psychological correlation to Raphtalia finding her resolve. Then, she struggles and crawls her way to a shrine, where someone randomly changes her outfit to fit that of a Vassal Wielder?
Okay.. Not random at all..
All of the sudden, she becomes strong, confident and very “not tired.” After fighting off Kazuki in epic fashion, she just walks away running into another white tiger. Only this time, she feels the exhaustion of using her new abilities.
The show just doesn’t do a good enough job conveying to the audience the character’s power struggle. There’s nothing that we can use to gauge what makes sense for Raphtalia to be tired or not. Essentially, the only logical explanation is 2 lengthy time-skips in a span of a couple of minutes. Raphtalia was tired from running away all this time from Kazuki until it got dark and randomly ended up at a shrine. The time it took her to switch clothes, gave her enough time to recover. Thus, being at full strength by the time Kazuki caught up to fight her.
Raphtalia’s New Abilities
Again, looking back to when Rishia had her moment to shine against Kyo and showed what she was capable of; this episode has a similar vibe as Raphtalia dons her new Vassal Katana Weapon, showing countless jaw-dropping abilities. Kazuki or “Kyo-lite” as I like to call him, the person who was in cahoots to separate Naofumi’s party apart, became the the audience’s punching bag to show all of Raphtalia’s new abilities.
Regardless of what I may think about the logical reasons behind Raphtalia’s new powers and growth, the fighting scenes against Kazuki and his lackeys were done very well. The music, the moment, the cocky and confident shift in Raphtalia’s demeanor was straight badass!
The antagonists this season have been very forgettable. We barely know anything about Kazuki to feel any deeper meaningful satisfaction to Raphtalia just completely dismantling him. Kyo and Kazuki don’t really have anything interesting about them at all. There is literally no backstory; maybe some hints here and there between Kyo and Kazuki’s relationship.
Overall, this episode was very refreshing to watch L’arc, Therese and Glass going about their journey, instead of Naofumi’s party. For once, we got to see Raphtalia complete her own journey away from Naofumi and the others. The biggest payoff of the episode came from Raphtalia wiping the floor with D-list bad guy, Kazuki. No matter what critique I might have about the story, characters and logic, was it still enjoyable to watch? By the way the episode was constructed and designed, I would say yes, very much so!