With the nice balanced approach to each episode, this episode is fan service with tons of laughs. Coming off one of the more serious episodes with a real plot, this episode focused heavily back onto the humorous elements of the anime.
Recap & Reaction
Coming off an episode where a literal terrorist attack occurred on the capital’s prestigious academy, it only makes sense that all the students get an early start to their Summer. Cid, having no real goals back at home, decides to stay in Midgar.
Claire goes to find Cid and he hangs on the wall like Shadow Spider-Man as she disappointingly leaves him behind to go back home. As Cid hangs out in the deck of his room, a little birdie sent by Alpha sends word about their next mission involving the “Sacred Land of Lindwurm, the city of deception.”
Changing Your Destiny
After the opening credits, we are introduced with another Shadow Garden member, Epsilon. She’s a flat chested ectomorphic body-type who hones a power similar to Cid’s black slime. Going with the theme of comedic interpretations of famous tropes, she sees the slime as “a way to change her fate,” making it as her life’s goal to be “voluptuous,” as she uses the slime’s powers to create a curvier look. This is in reference to Cid’s words of wisdom as he shows her the powers of his slime from her childhood. The power to “change your fate” has its broad interpretations and so Epsilon took it so.
“Changing your fate” is one of the those classic cliches you see that is quite typical in hero’s journeys. It’s fun to see one of the Shadow Garden member’s be that parody of that trope. It is rooted in reality as western women “Botox” their face to oblivion and “Brazilian Butt Lift” their cheeks to an unnaturally disproportionate level of waist-to-booty ratio. Next thing you know, South Korean plastic surgery technology will have you looking like your favorite KPOP star.
The next scene shows Beta providing a retelling of Shadow’s bout with Griffey Zenon. Then, it flips back to Beta’s room completely frustrated with the writing of her female lead and dialogue.
Epsilon puts on her “get thick” suit and walks into Beta outside. They have a little bit of female competition dynamic as Epsilon talks down to Beta about getting more of “Shadow-sama’s attention.”
Judging by the opening scene and the back and forth of Beta and Epsilon, this episode had the feel of one of those classic filler kind of episodes with The Eminence in Shadow emphasis style of comedic irony. With one of the Shadow Garden members KO’ing herself as she sleepwalks into a wall, it sets up the episode as being as such. At the same time, this scene establishes the episode’s theme for many of the upcoming interactions that have to do with many of the ladies’ romantic interest in Cid; highlighting one of the more amusing dynamics in the show like when Sherry spoke to Alexia about the status of her relationship with Cid.
‘Thirst Trap’ Gate
For the purpose of “heading to the Sacred Land as a special guest for the Goddess’s Trial, “Alexia and Iris end up shopping at Gamma’s mall, Mitsugoshi, for the special event. Gamma walks in and introduces herself as “Luna.” FOr the aim of gaining intel on the “corruption and missing orphans” referenced by Nu in an episode prior, Alexia plans on schmoozing up to the archbishop using a little bit of wink, wink, nudge, nudge.
Alexia and Iris tries some meatballs and tells Luna to send some to her dorm and other new products. The conversation leads to Alexia asking for clothes with Iris mentioning that they already arranged “party wear” for her. Alexia asks for something more like “casual wear” that she can wear everyday; describing further to Iris that’s it’s not really for her. Quickly, Luna concludes that she knows exactly the answer for her problem, “thongs.”
Like a caring big sister should, Iris and Alexia have a strong back and forth about the skimpiness of it, but Alexia is determined to sway “him,” at all costs.
Alexia convinces Iris with “domineering” dialogue over Iris and convinces her to allow her to accept the thongs and then goes on to test the viewers out with some nose bleed g-strings.
This episode to this point, has provided plenty of humorous situations that generated more laughter than usual. A lot of The Eminence in Shadow’s humor has been predicated a lot on the situation itself being comical rather that dramatic comedic effects. This scene exemplified that.
Rose Finds ‘Him’
Onto the next phase of the episode, the scene shifts to all of the people recovering from the attack from the terrorists. Rose Oriana searches desperately to find the one “who loves her,” Cid Kagenou. He lays in bed heavily bandaged up like a zombie and has one of the most hilarious lines, “I’m dead.” With Po and Skel sleeping next to his bed, Rose Orianna cries while blushing bright cheeky pink for the handsomely bandaged Cid.
Mentioning once again, that this episode was shaped to be like one of those typical filler episodes, but the episode’s setup and plot actually is for Cid’s affection. It’s a great contrast between Cid’s desire to be the perfect “background character,” only to inadvertently find one of the female lead’s affection anyways. This running joke from the previous arc works so damn well with how this episode is structured.
First, you have the competition and fan service action between Epsilon and Beta battling it out for Cid’s affection. Then, you have Alexia wanting to dress more provocative in a way that would catch Cid’s attention. Now, you have this great setup to help land this punchline of a scene with Rose Oriana going to meet a “dead” Cid. In this case, Rose Oriana has fallen head-over-heels for Cid’s heroic action to save her for his “dying” romantic protection of her. In this moment she felt “his hand of destiny.”
This is some great comedic irony indeed.
Rose Oriana invites herself to go with Cid to the Sacred Land, where they end up on the train together on a ride there. Rose goes on a romantic dialogue while holding Cid’s hands. Through comedic emphasis using the animation and sound effect, Cid slips his hand out while Rose with her eyes closed, deeply espouses her romantic cliches.
Cid explains that the most popular religion in this world is “Divine Teachings,” where they worship “the sacred precepts of the Goddess Beatrix.” Continuing further that “one of the holy sites in these Divine Teachings is Lindwurm, where the Goddess condescended to alight upon the earth to grant power to three heroes.”
The theme of this scene is Cid “needing space.” Cid hides from a clingy Rose on the train and is convinced that she’s trying to convert him to her religion. In reality, she’s just madly in love.
Ahh yes, the “misunderstanding romantic motif” that finds the sweet nuance in each arc, finding creative ways to get popular archetypal anime female characters to be in a relationship with the main character that’s a background character, Cid Kagenou. Add that motif to the motif that Cid continually misreads situations as he reads Rose’s affection as religious indoctrination.
Cid and Rose arrive in Lindwurm and they come across a book signing from a famous novelist, “Natsume.” Rose gets super amped up because she is one of her favorite novelists. She waits in line to get a book autographed and Cid notices the title to many of these other novels, sounding oddly familiar.
The names of the books are actually popular real life animes like Dragon Ball, but named Dragon Bowl instead. Cid realizes these are all names of popular stories from his world. He looks over to the novelist to get a glance of who this novelist really is. That novelist is none other than Beta!
Cid approaches Beta for his own autograph signing and realizes the effects of his stories that he’s told to Gamma and Beta have reflected onto this world in a major way; noting how ridiculous it was that Beta ended up retelling all of these famous anime stories and got notoriety off of that.
Beta ends up writing the mission in Cid’s autographed book. As Rose and Cid look at each other’s signed book, Rose is ecstatic with what Natsume wrote. Then, looking Cid’s book, she mentions that Natsume wrote some kind of ancient lettering. Cid just plays it off of what she wrote as just being “cool” as Rose questions the reasoning behind it.
Besides being just a loyal follower of Shadow, it’s nice to see the story hit on another aspect of Beta’s character.
In a tone changing moment, Alpha comes across Archbishop Drake, who is impaled and clearly dead, dead. The assumption at the beginning was Alpha killed him. However, she drops a bombshell that someone else got to him before she could investigate him. A bunch of the church members show up to witness the body and calls upon the alarms to help stop whoever actually committed this grave crime.
Assuming that Cid understood Beta’s instructions about the mission, he stands outside eating ice cream, speaking with extra bass in his voice. He then notices a shadowy figure running across the city and goes to confront him. The shadowy characters feels Cid’s presence and unleashes a swinging sword assault on Cid, but he is able to deflect it with his popsicle stick. All of the sudden, a three blue claw light slash comes down to slice down the henchman. Cid recognizes this person as Epsilon. She updates Cid about the current mission, explaining that they were able to stop all of the henchmen, except the “executioner” himself, who was able to escape and is currently hiding.
The balancing act from episode to episode
Anytime there’s an episode that involves epic moments, reveals and climatic fighting highlights, you can expect the next episode to greatly contrast that previous episode in tone. That is what we have here in episode 10 of The Eminence in Shadow. At first, it seemed like it would just be a lot of fan service with some fun quips from the characters, but this episode did a fine job setting up this future plot while advancing the romantic plot surrounding all of Cid’s suitors. As with most humor, it can be subjectively hit or miss, so it is important to find plot that actually matters to the characters.
Leaning into the more interesting characters
Alexia and Iris addresses the Cult of Diablos, while Alexia hilariously wants to reveal something more to “him.” This is an important aspect to Alexia’s character that I think most viewers want to actually see advance somewhere. Then, the comedic irony of Rose Oriana falling romantically for Cid becomes reality, as she takes over Sherry’s place as the next main love interest of Cid. This is a natural progression for these characters and it all starts to come together within the major plot. At the same time, it pits the potentially explosive interaction that Rose and Alexia may have as they are all staying within the same town.
Let’s not underestimate the writing and the construction of this episode. The introduction of Epsilon’s character goes perfectly well with the theme of the episode, setting up Rose and Alexia’s character development. We get to see the culmination of many of the major characters that Cid has interacted with being weaved into the major plot point in the story. And then, ending the episode with a major twist in the plot is all you can really ask for within 20 minutes of watch time.
Overall, this was a hilariously written episode with plenty of fan service. Instead of being strictly all about the comedic moments and the slice-of-life aspects of the episode, the episode was still able to end on a heavy plot point with the death of Archbishop Drake. This may very well be my most fondest episode as it “flashed” all the brilliantly humorous elements of the show, while giving us a real plot in the end. I was not too big of a fan of the previous arc with Sherry, but with a greater cast of characters like Rose Oriana, Alexia Midgar and the Shadow Garden taking on more screen time; mixed in with the mystery of the plot—this episode has me hyped all over again!
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