A new powerful character gets introduced and the Gaunt Knight gets the plot rolling.
Sherry ponders about what her step father said from the previous episode about the gift of chocolates from Cid. As the trope goes, it is typically a romantic offering that “he’s waiting an answer for.” She eats the chocolate and we have an awkward up close zoomed in look of her mouth of her eating the chocolate while blushing.
After the opening credits, Cid walks to school with an undercover Nu in a school uniform right behind him. They sit down on a bunch and she updates him on the Cult of Diablos member that she interrogated. The faux Shadow Garden member was “completely brainwashed.” She mentions further that “this trait is of the Cult of Diablo’s vanguard, the Third Children.”
Nu goes back to explaining that the Cult of Diablos take “powerful orphan kids to brainwash them.” They are most likely trying to use the Shadow Garden name to lure and set up the real Shadow Garden.
She mentions a new character, a “Named First Child” that arrived in the Royal Capital named, “Rex, the Game of Betrayal.” Expounding further that “A First Child” is someone that retained “their sense of self despite being one of the children.”
Like most of the prior episodes, Cid figures something out regarding what Nu said with Nu offering the same reactions as other Shadow Garden members as being “wowed” by Shadow’s leadership.
Then, Nu gets a flashback of what it would have been like if she was in school, dancing with another characters when all of the sudden, a black slime starts to cover her arm. This starts to build a mystery behind Nu’s character. It is the first time that the audience gets a little bit of depth behind one of the Shadow Garden characters.
The Fencing Tournament
As Cid and Nu were talking, Cid was holding a piece of paper that involved a fencing tournament that Skel and Po unwillingly entered Cid into to participate in. He punches both of them in the stomach.
I really liked the delivery of the fencing tournament being introduced as Nu is being serious about explaining the Cult of Diablos situation to Cid. It represents his nonchalant attitude towards this whole “Cult of Diablos” ordeal as he is mostly focused on this fencing tournament.
The scene shifts to the fencing tournament and we are introduced with a new character, Student Council President Rose Oriana of the Oriana Kingdom known for art and culture. She’s the princess and “best swordsman of the academy.”
It is Rose Oriana versus Cid Kagenou. An epic fight that should amount to an extreme test of back and forth. However, this is Cid we are talking about here. At the start of the match, we are given a slow mo with the clocks ticking as both characters dash towards each other, when Cid pulls out an epic move that usually triggers a flashy move. The only thing is that this flashy move is called “The Background Character Secret Technique, Spinning Drill Fall: Bloody Tornado.”
Cid instantly takes out a pod of fake blood and puts it in his mouth. Next, he absorbs a massive attack from Rose to take the fall against her.
This is one of the more hilarious gags of the anime so far.😂
If you’ve watched any kind of animes, you are familiar with anime trope of “mada da!” moments that shows off that the main character isn’t going to go down that easily. Except, Cid gets up to take on more “beating” to show off his other “47 background character techniques.” What makes this scene even more hilarious is that he gets up and profusely “bleeds” out a significant amount of blood.
Rose Oriana states every other cliche that occurs in these rival fights, “he still has that passion in his eyes.” She knocks down Cid multiple times, but he keeps getting back up, only to show off more of his background character techniques. Rose starts to respect Cid’s determination and she goes to strike down Cid with an even stronger attack until the referee tackles Cid down to save him from taking more of a “beating.” Cid is absolutely distraught because he had more incredible techniques in his arsenal to display. In the end, his background techniques and acting made it look too brutal.
Taking on these tropes in fights where characters show their wit, will and determination. In the end, Cid still ended up showing that he is a truly a main character by going overboard and persevering through multiple brutal attacks from Rose; resulting in Rose feeling like she lost “in the battle of spirits.”
One of my biggest issues about these kind of animes that rely heavily on the “inside joke” of the story is the fresh takes of Cid being this “background character.” Once Cid battles it out against Rose, this is the “fresh take” part that makes it all the more funny. The fact that he has “47 Background Techniques” and goes overboard with it, resulting in the opposite of what he wanted to achieve is all the more hilarious. This scene became great for so many different layers of reasons: making fun of rival battle tropes, going “beyond your limits,” and bringing in a new spin to tell the “inside joke.”
Unfortunately for Cid, he gets bandaged up without showing 33 of his other unused techniques and it gets even more comical as he gets stopped in the middle of the of a walkway by Sherry with his face heavily wrapped like a mummy.
With Cid absolutely forgetting who Sherry is and what he did by giving her chocolates, Sherry brought an offering in return to Cid after watching his bout against Rose. While bowing in anticipation, she offers to Cid that “they can start off as friends first.” Not knowing the consequences or context what she’s really doing, Cid sees that being friends is fine.
Ecstatic, Sherry turns around to confirm to her father that “they are friends now!” Cid goes on to fill-in context of who Sherry’s father really is. He is Lutheran Barnett, Assistant Principal of the Academy of Science. He is a “master swordsman in marital and scholastic arts.”
Skel and Po had gambling money on the favorite to win the fencing tournament, but that person quit because of a “horoscope.”
No lie. The comedic writing in this episode is absolutely hilarious!
That little comical nugget of Skel and Po’s failure is reminiscent of characters like Bulk & Skull in Power Rangers. The “horoscope” joke is such a great and realistic one to make. How many girls do you guys know that make decisions based on their “horoscope” predictions? Too many..
Sherry sits at home eating the chocolates, pondering if she should go tend to Cid’s care because of his “wounds.” In an “aha” moment that isn’t so “aha,” she gets the bright idea to go visit Alexia regarding matters with Cid. As she makes it to Alexia’s room, Alexia assumes she’s there to discuss the findings behind the Cult of Diablos artifact, but she’s really just there to ask about the status of her relationship with Cid. Alexia confirms that they are no longer dating and Sherry gets absolutely excited to Alexia’s great dismay. Every single word and excitement about their relationship being over is a piercing blow to Alexia’s heart.
Sherry’s lack of social acuity and Alexia’s emotional frustration over Sherry’s words were absolutely a hilarious synamic to witness. This social unawareness that Sherry lacks is the first step towards making her character all the more interesting. There isn’t that deep relatability element to her character just yet, but there is finally a funny entertaining dynamic that everyone can point to as a entertainingly funny character to watch.
Before Sherry entered Alexia’s room, Alexia pointed out how much she likes black coffee compared to all the milk and sugar that people put into the coffee. As Sherry makes her own coffee, she puts a ton of sugar and milk in it. This moment before the punchline sets the table for the internal clash that’s about to occur within Alexia. It’s these little more subtle parts of the story that makes those juicy climatic moments satisfyingly more hilarious like a “calm before the storm” moment. We don’t know for sure that Sherry is going to Alexia to ask about Cid, but that is the initial assumption that most people have. The coffee scenes present that slow knifing of the tension that we’re all waiting in anticipation for.
Five days later, Cid attends class again after “his injuries” heal up. Rose enters class to deal with class elections. All of the sudden, Gaunt Knight arrives on school campus and releases a barrier that disrupts or stops everyone’s use of magic. It seems like the only person that notices this change is Cid as he tries to use his slime magic.
Alexia arrives to school outside the gates and notices that it is closed, which it shouldn’t be when classes are ongoing. Then, she sees a dead student on the ground through a window that manages the school gates. Suddenly, a bunch of mysterious people bust open in the door to take over the academy claiming to be the “Shadow Garden.” Rose Oriana tries to fight them off, but can’t defend their attacks because of the handcuff in use of her magical power. As the faux Shadow Garden members attack Rose once more, Cid jumps in the way and take a massive slash through the chest. Unlike before in Cid’s match with Rose Oriana, this massive pool of blood is really Cid’s as he lies seemingly dead on the ground as the episode cliffhangers on a major plot point.
This episode had a nice blend of something that is more serious like Nu explaining the Cult of Diablos stealing and brainwashing orphans and Cid showing off his “background” abilities. This episode even raised the stature of one of the more boring characters like Sherry having one of the most hilarious of dynamics with Alexia. Sherry’s lack of social acuity is THE funny and most interesting aspect of Sherry. There’s so much here that the writer can use to create many moments like what Sherry had with Alexia.
This episode seems to get the ball rolling even further, introducing another major character in Rose Oriana. Even though she was used to get Cid’s gag off and make fun of some anime cliches, her introduction makes for an important one as the faux Shadow Garden led by Gaunt Knight makes there way to taking over Midgar Academy; most likely to take back the Cult of Diablos artifact.
The Eminence in Shadow episodes have been ending on pretty good cliffhangers as Cid takes what look like a fatal slash through the chest of his body. There were so many parts of this episode that I just loved for entirely different reasons. The humor, the presentation of the story, the presentation of the “inside jokes,” the wonderfully done scene between Sherry and Alexia that just made me burst out in laughter; all of those scenes all worked well in succession unlike the previous episode. What the last episode lacked and what this episode presented was wrapping up all of these humorous parts of the story with something that is significantly PLOT DRIVEN!
All the humor works great in this episode, but it is even better when there is a serious plot at hand. This is why The Eminence in Shadow is my favorite anime to watch right now. It’s such a great balance between the story, plot and humor that feels refreshing to watch. This episode is the culmination of the all the best aspects of the anime.
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