Cid Falls Victim to? The Eminence in Shadow Episode 3 [Review]

Cid finds himself in a quid pro quo relationship as he jokingly asks Princess Alexia to be his girlfriend.

Recap & Reaction

Opener

Leaving off the previous episode of Alpha and the Shadow Garden stating that “they must leave Cid,” the episode starts with Cid explaining what happened. According to Alpha’s intel, the Cult of Diablos is an organization pronounced across the globe. Because of that fact, the Shadow Garden end up going across the “four winds” to fight them.

In terms of value to the story, Shadow Garden just acts as a cog within Cid’s grand imagination. Currently, these characters lack any in-depth value beyond the broad scope of the “Cult of Diablos” plot.

Cid ponders about the fact that Shadow Garden might be trying to ditch him because of his lies about the Cult of Diablos. So, for the Shadow Garden to want to knowingly participate in his make-believe world, it could come to light that this might be something they wouldn’t want to entertain anymore.

How long before Cid realizes that the Cult of Diablos is real?

From this point on of every plot that involves the Cult of Diablos, it’s going to be interesting to see how creative the story will get for each time Cid rationalizes every detail.

As Cid looks back upon growing up into his childhood fantasies into being a superhero, we get a flashback to the time Cid as Minoru, jumped in front of a truck. Repeatedly slamming his head in the ground like a madman trying to gain some impossible magical power, he ends up leaping across the road where he meets his end.

It’s unclear whether Minoru jumped in front of the truck because he wanted to “isekai?” Or he hit his head one too many times, leading him in his strong desire to get more power, to jump across the road in a blinding rage. Whatever the reason, the point was taken that Cid wants to be whatever this “eminence in shadow” means to him.

Cid Goes to Midgar Academy

Finally turning 15, Cid was able to squeak by to get into Midgar Academy. Midgar Kingdom is like any other stereotypical hierarchical class society. Cid wakes up from his dorm and goes down to meet up with a couple of his other “background character” buddies in Skel and Po. All of them rush to get onto the bus, almost missing it.

Ahh yes, the trio of characters that’s prevalent in every anime. These two side characters provide comedic relief, to be used as plot devices and to normalize Cid as a character.

How Cid Became a “Rom-Com” Protagonist

Between all three: Cid, Skel and Po, they end up talking about a bet that they previously made. The worst test scores of the 3 have to confess their love to the most popular girl, Princess Alexia. Cid scored the lowest and must meet the brutal rejection of the princess.

Rejection.. A very “red-pilling” experience for guys..

Cid pulls out his most studied beta background confession possible. Hoping to be rejected to continue acting out his background character exterior, she surprisingly accepts his request; stating, “I’ve been waiting for someone like you.” Vastly dying inside, he doesn’t understand how he ended up as this “rom-com” protagonist.

This is actually a pretty funny twist on the “rom-com” scenario. At this point, everyone wants to find out why she accepted his proposal. It has to be something good, right?

Cid sits down in the cafeteria with Skel and Po as the students around him gossip about the “average-ness” of Cid. All three question almost everything that preceded prior. Cid doesn’t have the typical background of someone that the princess would accept and that leads them speculate over the oddness of Princess Alexia’s acceptance of Cid.

That’s how rom-coms work though!

Princess Alexia strolls on through to sit with the 3 background characters. To Skel and Po’s reaction, Cid thinks to himself how perfect they are as background characters. Suddenly arriving to the cafeteria, the royal Princess Alexia sits down to have an abundance of deliciously looking food be presented to Cid.

Cid doing what he can to get Princess Alexia to drop by acting extremely “un-royally,” sloppily eating and brazenly speaking. In the end, Princess Alexia found a common interest in Cid studying fencing. Princess Alexia proceeds to tell Cid that they opened up a spot in the highest section, so they can be in the same class.

The subtle assumption of this scene is that Princess Alexia is the stereotypical princess. Cid acts in a way that most of us would think to be barbaric for a monarchy. In reality, this just alludes to something being very different about Princess Alexia.

Princess Alexia’ Ulterior Motive

Mr. Zenon or Zenon Sensei introduces Cid to the Section 1 Fencing Class. He goes on to reveal that Princess Alexia has a far superior older sister named Princess Iris that helped popularized the Royal Bushin style, which is similar to the traditional Bushin. Both Princess Alexia and Cid proceed to train with Cid narrating how Princess Alexia just knows the basics, but is very adept at it. She’s “super aware” of Cid, even mimicking his stretching.

The key word in this scene is “basic.” It’s probably a word that no girl wants to hear. There is a clear correlation here between Cid analyzing her moves to describe them as “basic” and the fact that her older sister is being lauded as this superior fencer.

Once the training was over, Princess Alexia walks up to the fencing instructor, Mr. Zenon to tell him that she has a boyfriend. With Cid looking on, he figures out that they must have some kind of an arrangement and she is using him.

This is the kind of setup that makes you think that there might be some weird love triangle in the making. Good thing Cid Kagenou is already established to not be that kind of character like in episode one with Akane. With Alexia speaking with Zenon the way she did, it was definitely a “mask off” part of Alexia’s character.

Getting Paid to be a Boyfriend

The scene shifts once again with Cid calling Princess Alexia out for her “arranged marriage” situation and Princess Alexia calling out Cid for asking her out as a gag. In an a very dramatic moment, the animation focuses directly onto Princess Alexia’s gold coin as she pulls it out of her pocket. Cid reacts in astonishment as she flips the coin across him in slow motion, paneling across the screen where it ends up landing on the ground.

“You think you can buy me off?! Welp. You are certainly right.”

There’s almost a price for everything. For Cid, it’s some of Princess Alexia’s shiny gold coins that makes him continue playing along as that boyfriend. This scene provided quite a few insights into both characters. Both are not as standup as they portray themselves to be. A “flaw,” if you will.

In the case of Cid, it’s less so than in comparison to Princess Alexia. As a result of how lowly Alexia thinks of Cid, she knew that condescendingly offering him some coin would work.

As we are finding out, Princess Alexia’s judge of character is top notch.

Cid mentioning that he doesn’t nearly have as much money needed to bankroll the “Cult of Diablos” situation; remarking that his “allowance” is not nearly enough. After being bought off, he decides to continues playing the boyfriend role for Princess Alexia.

The emphasis on the delivery of this scene showed in Cid’s response to Princess Alexia pulling out the gold coin. It meant everything for this scene’s humorous intent. The coin falling on the ground and Cid responding in barking commands has to be one of more funnier bits in this episode.

Usually these anime relationships pray on the protagonist’s shy tendencies, but this is a true “quid pro quo” relationship. They are both benefiting, but not for romantic reasons.

Cid and Princess Alexia go on to do more “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” type of activities. Eventually they come acrosss Mr. Zenon speaking with a couple of ladies, while Princess Alexia puts on a scowl on her face as they both make uncomfortable eye contact.

Flaws Are What Makes a Person

Cid goes on to explain how thoughtful she is upfront, but underneath she can be so angry and “spiteful.”

*cough* *cough* kind of like Nishino Akane..

Waiting outside of a little food stand, Cid and Princess Alexia get some ice cream with Cid stating the obvious.

“Why not accept this dude? He’s handsome, rich, highly sought after by the ladies..etc.”

Princess Alexia goes on to describe every fairy tale-like romantic trope, “it’s not about being materialistic” or some such fantasy. It’s not all about the “surface level” stuff. Even Princess Alexia admits that she is just “acting perfect” and that there is nothing special about all of that. Revealing even further that that is why she chose Cid because “he is average.” He has “no redeeming qualities” and is “filled with flaws.”

The assumption here is that she finds a lot more value into people’s flaws, all the while trashing Cid’s qualities. This could end up being the classic case of “tsundere” Princess Alexia or Princess Alexia just being matter of fact.

Are they flirting?! 😳 He really is a rom-com protagonist right now..

Cid asks “if Mr. Zenon has any flaws” because that is what she judges the most. To her response, she says, “no.” However, that’s why it’s fishy. To appear like you have no flaws is just not possible.

Princess Alexia dropping gems. 💎

The Most Crucial Scene

Two weeks passes by and Cid and Princess Alexia are sitting on a train with Alexia questioning Cid’s fencing skills. It’s entirely “basic,” but she can’t help but be infatuated with it.

Cid criticizes her sloppiness in fencing that day and Alexia’s complex over her sister comes to light once again. Because of her lack of talent they call her “Fencer Ordinaire” or「凡人(ぼんじん)の剣(けん」. In a somewhat empathizing response, Cid complements her fencing style. There isn’t actually anything wrong with it from Cid’s perspective.

Alexia feels a knifing sense of resentment towards Cid’s words of complementing her basic fencing style. After an embarrassing lost in the Bushin Festival, her sister uttered those same words as Cid. Ever since then, she “hated her own style.”

To feel patronized by people better than you is no fun.. I get it Alexia..

This is when the darker side to Cid comes out. To put it bluntly, he explains that he is “not a good guy.” He “wouldn’t feel any sense of sadness towards millions of people dying from an unfortunate accident across the world.” In spite of that, he does get “bothered” by things he cares about, even though people might not care about it the same way.

Ending his last words with a mic drop moment that “that is why I like your fencing style.”

This relationship ending statement ends up being multi-layered. There’s the whole deeply wounded patronized feeling she received from her superior older sister and now Cid sends mixed messages with saying that he likes her fencing style.

Ultimately, Alexia can’t be near a person who finds her flaws a good thing. Even though Cid didn’t want to be in this relationship in the first place, he comes across genuine and possibly even liking her.

Princess Alexia judges a person’s flaw the most and doesn’t seem to be able to accept her own.

In another sense, it could come off as purposely confrontational. Cid speaking his reason as a matter of fact and disregarding the use of empathy towards Alexia can come off as harsh. When something hits home, it becomes an immensely delicate situation when words are exchanged.

And that’s where Cid goes back to being just another background character.

Alexia pulls out her sword in front of Cid, asking him “what do you mean by that?” Keeping it candid, Cid answers with “Nothing. I just don’t like it when someone disses something I like.”

Sayonara!

This whole time she felt ashamed of herself and how that shame has attached to her basic fencing style. Alexia feeling hurt by the feeling of envy and resentment is Alexia’s biggest flaw. It’s one that I could see these two characters hitting it off once again if the story ever chooses to let Cid become that kind of protagonist.

Vigilantes get action too. 🤷

There has been a lot of setups since the beginning of episode one that could have taken the story to predictable paths, but haven’t. What’s completely different is Cid’s refreshing attitude to not handle these situations like a typical protagonist would do. Cid’s darker outlook and complete clarity about what he wants to accomplish creates situations with characters that seem typical, atypical.

A Real Plot is Afoot

Without getting a real grasp on how Cid really feels about his relationship ending, Cid, Skel and Po walk to school with the boys hounding him Cid over the intimate details about his relationship with Princess Alexia.

With things looking like they will revert back to Cid being a “background character,” he is now fulfilling the role of the “protagonist being accused of wrongdoing.”

Mr. Zenon and a slew of his men surround Cid and his buddies. He reveals a shocking fact to Cid that the “Knight Order is investigating the disappearance of Princess Alexia,” who “never returned home.” Spelling bad news for Cid and his “low-key” status, he has no choice but to cooperate—leaving a very stressful high-tension cliffhanger behind for the audience to ponder about

What’s great about this scene is that the audience doesn’t know what’s coming. As the boys were walking and flashing Zenon in the next shot, the implication is that Zenon could be jealous or could even end up playing that “white knight” role (because of the break up). When Zenon and his men surrounds Cid, that was the line of thinking that this moment was insinuating. Instead, we receive a shocking fact that Princess Alexia has been kidnapped!

Zenon still appears to be perfect.. Rats!

Akane’s Replacement

What’s up with all of these in-depth girl characters that the writer comes up with?! In episode one, we got one of the best one night stands and never ended up exchanging numbers.. The writer does an absolutely marvelous job at re-calibrating these “popular girl” and “princess” archetypes using all of these relationship tropes to build these intriguing layers of depth to the characters.

Princess Alexia is absolutely correct. Judging someone’s flaws matters and that is what makes the characters so damn interesting!

Princess Alexia takes on a similar role to Akane in the first episode. They are two female characters that have to “put on a face.” On the surface, they are kind and act in a way that gives off the impression of perfection. Under the surface, they are just flawed spiteful people just like any other ordinary person.

I beg of you! Don’t let this character go to waste!

Last Thoughts

There’s only been 3 episodes, but there has already been many parallels and incidents that have already taken place. Princess Alexia takes the place of Akane’s role from the first episode, having similar perspectives and being of a high status. In all three episodes, the story has remixed the same plot(kidnapping) once again, but in this case as a cliffhanger for episode 3.

Like in episode one, I don’t find the action as interesting as the characters facing some kind of self-realization—going through some life trauma that they must figure out to navigate. We never get an answer for Princess Alexia’s reasoning for dumping Cid (it’s assumed), however the current plot may end up providing us some more insight or at the very least, see how Princess Alexia finds closure for her trauma.

How This Anime is Freaking Incredible!

Right now, it’s not Cid who is the most interesting character throughout the first 3 episodes. He already knows what he wants to do in his life, stating it clearly multiple times. He is there to be the character that provides the wisdom on the “flawed” characters. Using his knowledge and powers, he provides the flashy “spectacles” to the show. Notice how there isn’t the older “sensei” archetype in this show, at least not yet. Most of the wisdom is derived from Cid and his experiences.

It’s the characters that Cid ends up interacting with that has all the flaws and trauma that the audience can relate to. The first episode was Akane, the second was Claire & Viscount Grease, and this episode it is Princess Alexia. Each episode has their own separate plot that provides some kind of insight on life without presenting it in a cookie cutter way. At the bare minimum, it’s at least presented with a fresh new perspective.

From beginning to end, this is the kind of episode that I believe is about as perfect as you can do it. By the way of presenting the story, the introduction of characters, the plot, the funny dialogue and being able to end the episode with a shocking cliffhanger were all very well done. This was all highlighted by the “quid pro quo” gold coin scene.

This episode is an easy 10/10!

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