After dying from from a truck accident in his previous life as Minoru Kagenou, he gets reborn into another world as Cid Kagenou. This episode explains how he becomes “Shadow.”
Recap & Reaction
A Hook That Could Be Better
The opening scene flashbacks to how Minoru or now Cid, became “The Eminence in Shadow.” He speaks with this elf named “Alpha,” who mentions the “Cult of Diablos.” The “more we learn, the more powerful they appear to become.” Cid cuts her off and says that “we lurk in shadows and we hunt them.” The scene ends mentioning that “this elf is a pushover.”
After ending the last episode on a cliffhanger with Cid commanding a large group, this episode decides to start us off before he became “The Eminence in Shadow.” To be entirely honest, it’s kind of a confusing start because the audience knows absolutely nothing about what Cid and Alpha are talking about.
Referencing an elaborate plot as the opener makes it a slow process to get into when there is no frame of reference.
It’s the start of a backstory and I get that. Still, I prefer a more dramatic attention grabber. When stories start off their hook with someone dying or something dramatic happening, those are the best and easiest ones to get into because you immediately catch onto the plot. When Alpha appears and mentions the “Cult of Diablos,”
I’m like the cult of what?!
I guess the main arc centers around fighting a demon cult.
Minoru Kagenou is Now Cid Kagenou
After the intro concludes, we are revisited with the death of Minoru being hit by a truck. Minoru is now reincarnated as Cid and is born into a rich aristocrat family of Baron Kagenou. He continues explaining how there is actually magic in this world.
As dark and mysterious as the previous episode was, this episode catches a different kind of vibe, a more aloof and humorous one. It has the typical whimsical “I’m on a journey” kind of music with the main character narrating over how he got to where he is now.
Cid comes from a long line of “Dark Knights.” He himself did not exhibit any real talent, but his sister, Claire Kagenou, far surpasses his. On the surface, he’s just a Dark Knight in training, but is actually living out this “shadowy” double life.
A dark knight vigilante.. sounds oddly familiar.
Still an Undercover Vigilante
Suddenly, the scene shifts again with Cid, getting into a battle with a large group of bandits. He ruthlessly disposes of them with his shadowy attacks that slice off limbs like it was fresh meat—showing off this transformative and manipulative slime suit that molds into whatever he likes. He then proceeds to take what goodies the bandits end up leaving behind.
This scene provided the first glimpse into how he’ll be handling “the bad guys” in this new world, which ends up being a brutal no holds bar just like in episode one; except he can magically tear these guys to shreds. That’s one of the most satisfying elements of this show—Cid taking vengeance upon the bandits for the “fallen caravan” people. It’s a darker satisfaction against people universally accepted to be scumbags.
Sometimes, there’s no need to level with people and to try to convince them to “turn a new leaf.” Catch a body and move on.
Blood, guts and an OP protagonist that patronizes the enemy when he satisfyingly mows down the bad guys; you can’t really go wrong with that formula. Toss in the incredible way they execute these scenes, this continues to make me believe that this anime is going to be at the very least, an entertaining one to watch just for these scenes.
The Beginning of a Hoax
What Cid finds is this possessed disgusting decomposing looking blob creature that he thinks he could make some use out of. Taking it back home and pumping magic into it for a month, it ends up reverting into this sleeping young blonde elf.
To be this cocky in taking down all of these men and just haphazardly taking in this blob creature, I can get a sense that Cid is a guy that does things on the fly.
Surprised at the elf coming out from the blob, he gets himself in position to present himself as “The Eminence in Shadow.” Making it up as he goes, he explains that he released her from a curse. Then, takes out an old fairy tale book mentioning that that story was true with “the three heroes who defeated the demon Diablos and saved the world.” As the demon was dying, he put a curse on those “hero descendants.” Struggling to find an answer for who did this to the elf, he sees a labeled bottle in a room and mentions that “there is a group of zealots looking to revive this demon.” Mentioning even further that it’s his duty to fight these “zealots” from the shadows.
With his next great reveal to the elf, he almost calls himself the “Stylish Ruffian Slayer,” but stops himself to call himself “Shadow, a guy who lurks in the shadows to hunt the shadows.” Calling the elf “Child of the Heroes,” he asks the elf if she would help him on his journey.
Cid mentions that he “made all of this stuff up.” This is where the story gets pretty confusing until the end.
At face value, the expectation is that this whole thing was a fib. In actuality, too many coincidences start to align that makes it convincing enough that everything is actually real. From this point on, I was confused by all the events that takes place next until almost the end.
Beyond convincing the elf, she is now absolutely bought into helping him fight these bad guys by recruiting others like her. The elf mentions creating a base and to gather funds for their operation. He ends up naming the elf “Alpha” and calls their organization “Shadow Garden.”
In my head, I’m thinking that this entire fib is going to catch up to Cid in a very negative way. Gathering a group of your own cult members to fight another group of made up cult members is such an elaborate hoax that shouldn’t end well. At least, that was what I was thinking for a while..
Claire Gets Kidnapped by the “Cult of Diablos?”
After setting up the foundation for his elaborate hoax with Alpha, 3 years has passed and he is now a regular “Dark Knight in-training.” Having still maintained his memories from his past life, he uses the blend of martial arts to help him train against his sister. In truth, he’s been holding back to maintain his ordinary persona as he gets obliterated by his sister time and time again.
Pushing along the story further, when children turn 15, they start going to a school called, “Midgar Academy for Dark Knights in the royal capital.” All of the sudden, when it was her time to go to school, she goes missing, leaving behind a destroyed room and a broken picture frame of their family. It is presumed that she got kidnapped. Her father comically goes over-the-top, simply stating the fact that a kidnapper had to be significantly strong to overpower her. His wife presumably commits domestic abuse off screen with loud pounding noises for stating the facts like it was somehow out of their control.
Given the raw seriousness of the previous episode with almost little to no humor injected, this episode balances itself out with a more lax and comedic aspect. That is what Cid’s parents essentially played for the entire episode.
The Plot Gets Confusingly
Cid walks with a maid undercover as “Beta,” who Alpha recruited. It turns out Alpha has recruited a quite a few members into their organization. Cid asks Beta of the status of sister’s kidnapping. She gives him the intel that the kidnapper is a “high ranking officer of the Cult of Diablos.” Beta concludes that she is most likely alive, but can’t exactly pinpoint the location she is at. Then, Cid accidentally points out the secret location on the map by misfiring a slime dart on the map. Reacting to where the spot landed on the map, Beta gives him an ecstatic reaction, praising his intelligence.
This is where it got a little bit contradictory and confusing for the story.
The “Cult of Diablos” fib is supposed to be fake, but all of the Shadow Garden members are bringing in intel that the kidnapper is a real member of the Cult of Diablos? Take into account that Cid says in his head that somehow these bandits turned into Diablo cult members, when his Shadow Garden members “get involved.” This was an odd thing to say that didn’t make much sense. In general, this scene was confusing because Beta contradicts that notion of Cid making up the “Cult of Diablos.”
However, signs were pointing that this “Cult of Diablos” thing could actually be somewhat real.
What the Bandit is Looking For
The scene shifts back to the kidnapper with a chained up Claire. He attempts to stomp her head in, but she is able to dodge. To his surprise, he questions how she could still dodge with “magic-sealing chains” on? She responds with a life-learning lesson of “it’s not how much magic you have, but how you use it.” The bandit assumes it was her father that taught her. She quickly corrects him, further explaining that she learns everything from her little brother, even though she beats him up every time in training.
This scene confirm a couple things we already know about Cid, he’s been holding back and is actually the one training his sister. Also, that their father is actually a pretty irrelevant character. At least, in terms of noteworthy magical ability and wisdom.
The bandit concludes that when Claire “showed signs of possession, Cid was the one that healed her.” She denies the veracity of that conclusion and states that she had to correct many other people like Viscount Grease. While he ponders out loud that he must know the truth about what Cid did, Claire freaks out and breaks free from the chains, attacking Viscount Grease. In a crazy lash out, she shows a ferocious intensity in defense of her brother. As Claire goes on this epic rant, Viscount Grease pounds her in with a direct fist to the face.
The Shadow Garden Appears!
After knocking Claire down, a soldier pulls up to Viscount Grease to warn him of intruders. Of course, it’s the seven Shadow Garden members massacring all of Viscount Grease’s men. In a bloody filled cave, they announce to Viscount Grease how their goal is to defeat the Cult of Diablos; revealing that “they know about the revival of the demon Diablos, the heroes’ descendants and the truth behind demon possession.”
With the Shadow Garden’s entrance in this scene and Cid slaughtering all of the bandits earlier in the episode, the dark and gruesome seems to be a more normalized and nonchalant part of the story.
“As Viscount Grease runs to find out what the heck is going on, a bloody head bounces off the ground to catch his attention. “
It’s the delivery of these kind of scenes that really make it that much more impactful to watch, rather than constantly seeing random characters get diced to bits like respawning npcs.
Viscount Grease fights back against the seven Shadow Garden members only to be sliced up. Having something literally up his sleeve, he consumes a pill, turning into this devilish monster. Then, he proceeds to escape by blasting his way underground. Alpha stops a Shadow Garden member from chasing him down by mentioning that Viscount Grease is heading straight where Shadow is located. One of the Shadow Garden members end up praising his genius for having them go in different directions. In reality, he’s just lost.
Yes! Our first inside look at how powerful the members of the Shadow Garden are and to see what capabilities they have.
We can determine from the slaughter of Viscount Grease’s cannon fodder that these Shadow Garden members are at least, stronger than the Royal Guard members as Viscount Grease referenced earlier about how strong some of his men were. When Alpha took center stage to fight against Viscount Grease while everyone else watched, she looked to be on par with whatever transformation he took on.
If you were still confused like me at this point, we were both in the same boat. What really threw me over the edge that this is most likely real, instead of a fabrication is when Viscount Grease questioned “where did you hear about the Cult of Diablos?”
I was speculating almost throughout the entirety of the episode that this whole ruse might have somehow been Cid’s doing, but that just didn’t make any sense with what Beta mentioned earlier. There’s only one conclusion at this point and that is the fact that they are in fact, fighting a group called the “Cult of Diablos.”
Shadow Versus Viscount Grease
With Shadow lost and aloof somewhere in a tunnel, Viscount Grease comes running into him. They proceed to fight as Shadow teaches him multiple lessons about how to use magic, eventually mauling him down in highly entertaining fight. As he falls down to his death, he utters the words mentioning “this boy”(Cid) and his daughter Millia. Viscount Grease’s pendent with his daughter ends up flopping into the air and Shadow takes it.
Shadow fighting Viscount Grease looked to be a foreshadowing kind of fight as it flashes some of Viscount Grease’s memories.
It looked like his daughter might have caught the demon possession curse, which might be why he was so adamant about wanting to find out about Cid being able to lift the curse with Claire. He hinted how “the world is darker than you think.” There wasn’t enough here to come to a conclusion about anything, but was a good tease to help the audience begin to speculate about what to expect later.
We should expect to see how Millia will play a role later on; how Cid’s ability to undue these demonic possession curses will become a beacon of hope to some and an enemy of the Cult of Diablos.
Those were my key takeaways from this bout with Viscount Grease. There’s this foggy haze of mysterious darkness that we don’t know much about yet. However, the fact that Cid can undue this curse of this great demon makes Cid the perfect enemy for that demon.
It flashes back to the next day where Claire actually healed from all of her wounds. Then, she is forced to head out to the royal capital to start school. Cid wishes that he could be there too, falling in love with the idea that he would be able to meet a real “main protagonist” and have an encounter with a “last boss.” In the end, he’ll have to wait 2 more years with Alpha and the other Shadow Garden members. Sadly, Alpha suddenly mentions that they have to “leave” Shadow. With a surprised look on his face, that is where the episode ends on a cliffhanger.
I am a big fan of utilizing cliffhangers. What’s the point of letting an episode come to a close if there is nothing to wait in anticipation for on the next episode? Even though the end of episode one spoils this cliffhanger by not really leaving him in the end, I’ll take this one over episode one’s ending.
Okay, I Finally Got the Joke
Going through this episode was really a slap in the face for a while until the end. Cid Kagenou or Shadow literally thinks he is fabricating this whole plot with the “Cult of Diablos” situation with Alpha and the others, As a viewer, there’s no reason not to believe that Shadow is indeed making this all up, meaning everything involving the Cult of Diablos isn’t actually real.
Looking back, when Beta shared that Claire was “kidnapped by a high ranking official of the Cult of Diablos,” Shadow just thought that a random bandit somehow became a Cult of Diablos by the Shadow Garden members’ assumption. At that point, I was really confused at what to believe, but it wasn’t until the Shadow Garden showed up to fight against Viscount Grease that it hit me that this whole “Cult of Diablos” situation was actually a real thing and Cid thinks it’s actually all made up.
That’s the joke. 🤦♂️
It doesn’t really appear that Cid actually knows what he is doing. Because of how powerful he seems to be, it wouldn’t really matter if he uses a well thought out plan or not. In the end, he looks like a genius to the Shadow Garden members no matter what he does because of dumb luck or just because of his magical prowess.
Reality Becomes What You Make It
Judging from the previous episode, I took issue with the basic nature of Cid’s basic motivations to want to gain power. However, I did not expect the outcome of what would come out of this episode. While Cid still has those childhood fantasies of wanting to become stronger and live out those wild fantasies of beating up bad guys from the shadows; it’s that very motivation that gets twisted in this humorous unaware story line of Cid.
Striking the balance of Cid “role-playing” with Shadow Garden while simultaneously showcasing this inexplicable power and wisdom when he fights, it creates this broader dynamic to the story that isn’t primarily focused on the main character just wanting to become stronger.
I’m the kind of over thinker that likes a story and characters that provide a little bit of depth that I could relate to. In the case of The Eminence in Shadow, it seems to be a more surface level running joke that gets the kicks than anything else that’s that deep. I’m still reeling from the lost of not having the depth of a character like Akane from the previous episode, but the transition to this kind of story line is something I can still have fun watching. It’s still only episode 2 and I’m sure there’s plenty of great upcoming characters.
Looking back at episode one, the mood and tone presented the possibility of a very intense and serious story. In this episode, it gives off a more humorous and chill tone with less emphasis on the drama of the plot, as the storytelling is conveying to us to not take these scenes as seriously.
I’d hate to compare this isekai to another isekai in That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, but the vibes of “characters never really feeling like they are in danger” is comparable to that anime.
It’s not actually a negative thing, considering that they planted the seeds of wanting to see how this “Cult of Diablos” fiasco turns out. Typically, you would want to see characters face adversity. But, when you throw in this twist of the main character thinking he is making everything up, when in actuality it is true, that’s a formula for a lot of amazingly funny things to occur.
I can see it now, how I am going to confusingly explain this anime to people.
“It’s a dude that thinks he is THAT dude that makes up a story to convince a bunch of Greek elf chicks how he saved them from this curse, where there’s this whole elaborate demon cult scheme to bring back that demon curse dude.“
The plot itself is very confusing to understand and explain at first. Nevertheless, it’s more about the fun qualities surrounding the main character pretending to put the pieces together that make it comical and fun to see unfold. Then, there’s that whole aspect of just overpowering everyone in the most satisfyingly brutal way possible.
Even though I prefer what episode 1 presented a little bit more, episode 2 provided a lot of backstory that I want to see be expounded upon some more. Add in how well put together some of these scenes were along with episode 1, I feel pretty confident that the rest of the season will stay at this level of quality. So far, so good.
In the end, the premise is fun, funny and looks outstandingly attractive, while the plot provides enough substance to want to see how it all plays out.
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