Shadow versus Griffey Zenon commences as Princess Iris deals with the giant demon.
The episode opens up with Cid as Shadow, appearing before Princess Alexia and Griffey Zenon, It’s an often used scenario where the bad guy doesn’t take the main character serious enough and Shadow shows off how much more superior he is.
After the opening credits, we get a first look into Princess Iris in action. She ends up fighting against the white haired devilish giant, committing major damage that the other knights could not handle. However, the giant demon keeps healing its own injuries until the whimsical and insanely powerful Alpha shows up to drop wisdom on the situation at hand. Alpha notices that the giant is in constant pain from the major damage she keeps healing from and takes the monster down in one shining shot from the skies, blowing away the demonic curse similar to what Cid did to her in episode two. As the demon reverts back into a little girl, the same pocket watch picture that Viscount Grease had, this demon monster had in her possession, implying that she was the daughter of Viscount Grease.
The scene with Grease’s daughter reverting back to her human form, left much for interpretation. Rather than deliver a killing blow, it looks as though she survived. It is assumed that Alpha took her as Princess Iris looks on in shock at everything that had transpired.
Like in the previous episode, Princess Iris doesn’t seem to be worth much in terms of perception and strength compared to the Shadow Garden members. However, the significance of her role in the Midgar Kingdom proves to be very important for the advancement of the plot. For right now, it’s hard to define the best qualities of her character besides being that caring older sister. Amongst a plethora of other strong female characters, it’s going to be interesting to see how this character is used and what she’ll uncover in regards to the Cult of Diablos amongst the Knight’s Round.
Will Princess Iris be the one to uncover the secret of the Cult of Diablos, exposing something dark within the Midgar Kingdom?
Griffey Zenon Makes the Same Mistake as Viscount Grease
One of the twelve seats of the Knights of Rounds, Griffey Zenon versus Cid Kagenou. This is the first fight where the audience gets to gauge how strong Cid is and what kind of enemy the Shadow Garden is up against. If we learned anything from Alpha’s appearance to take down the enhanced giant and Cid fighting against Griffey Zenon is that they are just scratching the surface of whatever is “lurking in the shadows.”
The two cult members presented so far, only gives the audience of whiff of what’s going on.
You could say Viscount Grease’s role in the Cult of Diablos was that of one of heroic deed to find a way to save his daughter. The same could not be said about Griffey Zenon as his goals was to ascend to the higher ranks of the Knights of Round. What you could say is the same about these two characters is that they mistakenly used the devil pills in order to gain strength. It’s a simple lesson that borrowed strength means very little compared to someone like Cid, who spent his whole prior and current life to cultivate his power to be comparable to that of a nuclear bomb.
In terms of motivations and getting a finger on what’s so special about the Cult of Diablos, it has been all surface level characters that the Shadow Garden has faced. There’s only the lore to run off of and the suspicions that the knights in the Midgar Kingdom has something to do about it. If there was one knock I have for the anime so far, it is the lackluster cast of uninteresting antagonists.
What do we know about Cid? He’s powerful, but it’s heavily implied he’s some kind of expert at his craft rather than “just being strong than you.” Technically, it’s implied that he is both right now. The one analogy Cid used in episode one of how powerful he wanted to be, he seemingly accomplishes close to that feat in this episode with the showcasing of how “he is as nuclear as a nuclear bomb.”
As a villain, Griffey Zenon just becomes another cannon fodder with an added layer of “just to good to be true” kind of character that Princes Alexia alluded to. At the very least, that gives the audience to look at the character in another perspective before before blasted into smithereens. In result, this lesson that we learned from Cid humbling Zenon completes Princess Alexia’s character arc.
Princess Alexia’s Realization
Cid’s ordinary, but perfect technique makes Princess Alexia realize that her own shame and embarrassment of her ability was wrongfully misplaced. At the end of episode 3 when Princess Alexia broke up with Cid, this brings full circle why Cid was so defensive over defending an “ordinary style” of fencing that he cherishes. During Claire’s kidnapping, her mentioning of Cid teaching her that “it’s not about how much magic you have, it’s how you use it,” is another callback to an important lesson that Princess Alexia is witnessing as Cid is fighting against Griffey Zenon.
After the the “I Am Atomic” attack Shadow uses on Griffey Zenon, there just lies a giant circumference of rubble with no one in sight. Alexia sees the sword on the ground and picks it up. Upon realization of Shadow’s “ordinary technique,” she displays her confidence in her style as she wields it with confidence. Then, Iris comes to her rescue having a nice bonding moment amongst siblings. In this moment, Alexia’s complex over her sister has been uplifted.
In the aftermath of the prior events, Princess Alexia has a scene speaking with Cid, thanking him for basically everything he said in episode 3. This plays upon many typical romantic tropes that should lead the main character and current female lead to “become an item,” but that’s not how this anime works. It becomes a punchline as Cid happily denies her blushing offer, only for it to end in a “mysterious blood splatter.”
I’m all for satirical takes on romantic tropes!
Remember that Cid doesn’t necessarily fit the bill of a shonen protagonist that needs to be taught valuable lessons. It is Princess Alexia that is experiencing the valuable lesson. These are simply repackaged life lessons that have been taught through a remix of stories for eons. What makes this story interesting in its own right is the role of the characters. Cid is this wise character that everyone else learns from.
Building the Cult of Diablos Plot
The Shadow Garden reconvenes at an undisclosed location, gushing over Shadow’s incredible feat. There isn’t much that is told here, besides the fact that the episode shows more screen time for many of the other Shadow Garden members.
Seeing that Griffey Zenon was a part of the Cult of the Diablos and is apart of the Knight Order, Princess Iris begins her investigation of the Knight Order using a couple of new characters, Glen & Marco. She pulls out an item that looks like a silver ring and tells Glen and Marco that “they need to find someone to decipher” the item.
In the very next scene, a pink haired girl carrying a bunch of books looks to be deciphering that very item that Princess Iris has in her possession. As she stumbles, she bumps into a bloodied and battered looking Cid. Cid offers her a hand to get back up and instantly, the pink haired girl gets butterflies.
These last few scenes wrapped up and advance many important story elements. Princess Alexia & Cid was able to end on a humorous note and we are quickly able to move on to another potential romantic interest. Seeing that the Cult of Diablos is now a known issue to a powerful character like Princess Iris, it makes this make believe role-playing of Cid become less of a gag to the story and actually become something meaningful and substantial to the story.
I just love these more subtle humorous takes on the romantic anime tropes. Cid is literally walking around dripping blood on one whole side of his body like a total freak show and the pink haired girl looks to be having a “love at first sight” moment.
How Cid’s Role is Used in Storytelling
It’s pretty clear that Cid is playing his role at an “expert” level. He’s strong, cunning and displays a level of child-like hubris that just so happens to be literally mature beyond his actual physical years. What do you do with a character that has a strong will and purpose, already amassed a ton of overpowered abilities and has a squadron of fan service-y overpowered followers to be used at his disposal? You construct the story involving other supporting characters.
The one constant throughout The Eminence in Shadow is the usage of Cid and the Shadow Garden. The characters that make real connections to the audience have been the supporting characters for specific parts of Cid’s journey. This actually opens the playbook to create many stories of different background of characters that Cid and the Shadow Garden can interact with. That’s the true brilliance in this show. First we had an incredible lesson with Akane Nishino’s “living life behind a shadow” in episode one and the “Princess Alexia” character arc finished with the acceptance of your own skills and abilities. Each character provides their own layer of depth that connects with the audience, while Cid and the Shadow Garden provides the “spectacles” to the story.
My absolute favorite anime to try to deconstruct the thought process of the mind of the creator(s) is this one, The Eminence in Shadow. Beyond the glamorous highlights of intense fighting and flashy finishing moves, it’s the ability to create supporting characters that actually matters to the audience. From a main character and a protagonist’s point-of-view, it’s always about the main character and its closest allies advancing the plot. In this case, it’s the supporting characters forcing the plot to move forward when the main character isn’t even trying to get involved.
In The Eminence in Shadow, it builds everything you would want in a main supporting character, except they are unwantedly expendable. In the audience’s eyes, we become quickly attached to the character’s issues and personality. Princess Alexia like Akane Nishino are characters that the audience can quickly identify with that could be mainstays to the story. Or as I am picking up on the story’s formula, there’s a strong chance that there are going to be MANY developed characters with incredibly relatable experiences and journeys that are on par with those previously mentioned. If that is the case, then I don’t see a pathway where this anime could fail. There isn’t any part of this anime that has a glaringly boring or weak point.
For the back half of 2022, The Eminence in Shadow and Summer Time Rendering have been my top two choices of anime recommendations.
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