Cid meets Aurora once again and the Shadow Garden reveals the mystery behind the Cult of Diablos.
Recap & Reaction
Each episode prior to this one had little elements here and there about what the Cult of Diablos was about. First, it seemed like a joke. Now, it’s all reality and episode 12 does a tremendous amount of explaining in connecting all the dots together.
Shadow flies off in the distance, where he transforms back into Cid. Ecstatic that everyone will most likely be talking about “Shadow’s eminence,” he ponders how he’s going to relax. That sense of relaxation made a quick turn for the “ominous” as the red gate that appeared at the end of the previous episode, makes an appearance right next to him. Wanting to ditch this nuisance of a gate, he teleports himself elsewhere, only for the red gate to follow him. Feeling defeated, he decides to just give in and enter the gate.
When there is a legitimate mystery behind the story, it grabs hold the audience’s attention because you actually feel compelled to want to see it unfold. This is where the humor of the previous two episodes meets a legitimate plot that the audience should be taking seriously. For all the funny coincidences and Cid’s nonchalant attitude, it becomes one of the few times where the viewer can actually feel a sense of nervousness for the main character. At the very least, there’s a sense that there are some significant revelations and/or the ramifications of something truly consequential coming up. The mere fact that the Shadow Garden is indeed involved in this operation adds more to the importance of the situation as it relates to the Cult of Diablos.
The Shadow Garden Arrives
With Cid entering the gate, the gate back at the auditorium still remains. Archbishop Jack Nelson provides a hint of the gate’s origins by mentioning out loud that “the gate responded to Shadow?!” This prompts Rose and Alexia to question what he means by that. He explains that the gate only “arrives in its appropriate form from those that seek it.” He expounds further that there are 3 gates: a Forbidding Door, a Beckoning Door and a Welcoming Door. As the door opens to the archbishop’s surprise, they cancel the Goddess’ Trials by evacuating everyone out of the stadium. His rushed demeanor gives sense to the idea that there is some kind of danger behind this gate.
At this point, the assumption noted in the prior episode was Jack Nelson is obviously a villain. With that assumption in mind, his every reaction and words are very important. How does he know about the gates? Why is he trying to protect the people from these gates? More importantly, what is it that he’s hiding about the knowledge of what is inside the gate?
Archbishop Jack Nelson tries to convince Rose and Alexia to leave as well until the Shadow Garden appears out of nowhere. Alpha tells Rose and Alexia to “stay back until the door closes” as Delta and herself jump down to go through the gate. Alexia and Rose question the Shadow Garden’s aim and Epsilon responds with a similar statement to Alpha with the added intention that she was going to take the archbishop with her through the gate. The archbishop emphatically asks again, what their aim was and Epsilon responds that “it’s about what’s inside the sanctuary.”
Once again, the arrival of the Shadow Garden pays significance to the minds of the audience, as they only show up when the Cult of Diablos is involved.
BEta and Epsilon’s Highlight Moments
To prevent Alexia and Rose from interfering in taking the archbishop, Epsilon dangles Natsume Kafka (Beta) as a captive. Beta goes on to provide one of the most hilarious out-of-blue responses by going over-the-top with her acting by screaming and sounding extremely fake. Per her character, Rose seems to be the only one that is truly worried about Natsume as Alexia tells Rose that it might be okay to let Natsume die.
These are the kind of humorous punchlines in scenes where the tension that is building works perfectly in contrast while in the midst of the plot. For some, too much humor and the sense of nothing important happening can be a turn off, but this moment of Beta “acting kidnapped” rose one of the biggest bursts of laughter of the entire anime.
Before Epsilon could take Beta and Archbishop Jack Nelson with her, the archbishop says, “if you must go, go without me to the afterlife.” This is the type of an ominous statement that immediately shifts into a dramatic sequence with Executioner Venom making an surprise attack on Epsilon, slicing her fake breasts off. Calling upon the one character development of her character regarding “beating nature,” she uses the slime power to retract her sliced breasts to make one fell swoop of an attack on Venom as he gets hack and slashed to pieces in an instant.
The transitions between a hilarious Beta moment and quickly switching to a dramatic sequence has to be one of my favorite sequences in succession of scenes in the anime. Even though it is a cliche moment of a bad or good guy hinting at a significant reversal of the scenario before something unexpectedly dramatic happens, the “unexpectedly dramatic” part of the delivery still catches you off guard as a viewer. It’s this little moment where we get to see Epsilon find resolve in her “gaining power over nature” narrative that provides another humorous contrast to the significance of her being ambushed. Besides this random “Executioner Venom” being another throwaway villain like Rex, it at least turns into a highlight moment for Epsilon.
Epsilon takes the archbishop and Beta with her. Alexia, remembering what Shadow said previously about “staying out of their way,” just couldn’t help herself and jumped into gate anyways. Rose feeling left behind from the social pressure, jump after Alexia.
Inside the Sanctuary
Alexia and Rose end up falling from the roof of the sanctuary as they teleport in from the gate, only to fall on top of Beta, as it looked like she was giving out orders. Beta mentions to Alexia to get her hands off of “her parts” with Alexia takes another shot at her “jiggly goods.” Alexia mentions to Alpha that she just happened to fall in and Alpha responds that “may be you should learn this too.”
Once again, the dialogue between Alexia and Beta strikes an entertainingly humorous balance between them. Without any interesting relationship dynamic between any of the characters, it would all feel too cookie cutter, making all the characters feel the same. Without what Alexia brings to the table as a character and having that female competition dynamic with Beta, all of these characters would just end up feeling the same.
Alpha Drops Truth Bombs
Alpha goes on to explain the legend of how everything within this sanctuary are trapped memories of “battles, ancient memories and demonic grudges.” First, she explains that Diablo’s left arm have been sealed away by the hero Olivier. To Alexia’s surprise, Olivier is actually a girl, acknowledging that the public knows an entirely different story. Alpha unlocks the gate to the archbishop’s astonishment and everyone proceeds inside as a duplicate reflection of Alpha being Olivier walks through.
This part of the scene actually brings in the significance of Jack’s character. It builds this narrative that the church has been lying about Olivier and the history for a long time. With Jack being the current archbishop, he clearly is representative of this misinformation and this is why Alpha brought him inside the sanctuary to pull important information out of him.
Cid and Aurora Team Up
Cid walks through a door into an all white abyss with Aurora sitting in the middle of it. Cid says “hello” in a very informal way and Aurora speaks for the first time in a very kind and feminine manner. They catch up a little bit on their previous match and she recollects that Cid was likely “the strongest she has ever faced.” Cid asks if “she was the one that brought him there.” Aurora isn’t sure how he got here, but asks what she actually looks like. The scene shifts from a closeup view of Aurora to the full body shot of her, showing that she is in a straitjacket. Kindly asking Cid to release “this beautiful girl” from her containment, Cid assumes that she was just stuck from training herself and frees her.
Since Aurora and Cid are in the same position of wanting to escape, Aurora convinces Cid to work together. Continuing further that this is actually a “memory prison created by ancient battles.” By going to the center of the sanctuary and destroying its core, they can escape. Cid asks Aurora, “what she would do once she escapes?” She responds, “vanish into nothing.”
Swirling Mystery Behind Aurora
There’s quite a bit of assumptions that can be had in this moment. If the audience takes the “Witch of Calamity” story at face value, there is an assumption of immediate danger to Cid letting her escape from the straitjacket. Add on the fact that Cid’s obliviousness adds to this notion that she isn’t so much of a “damsel in distress” as she paints herself to be.
This is one of the more appealing mysterious aspects of this current plot. It makes you think about the possibilities of Aurora’s character and her connection to the Cult of Diablos and how it relates to the lab. For this specific moment and scene, it helps raises questions where later on, it becomes a bit clearer who Aurora actually is. For an anime that’s provided relatively weak antagonists, Aurora is the first character with real “grey area” implications for what kind of character she is.
Alpha Drops More Truth Bombs
The scene flashes back to Alpha walking through a memory inside a science lab along with the others. She explains that this science lab is the memory of Olivier that got stuck inside the sanctuary. Revealing further that the cult would bring demon possessed orphaned kids to the science lab to be experimented on. As a result of many of their failed experiments, many died except a select few.
As something that was taken in as a joke when Nu explained this part to Cid in an earlier episode, this confirms and fills in a lot of the main story about “orphaned kids.” Since these elements about the Cult of Diablos seem very abstract and was sprinkled throughout each episode, this episode helps fills in many of these gaps .
Cid and Aurora Take a Stroll Through Memory Lane
Cid and Aurora walk through a science lab memory with a younger looking Aurora crying on the steps. Aurora denies that that is her, but couldn’t help but walk up to her. Grabbing a hold of this young girl, she emphatically slaps her and says that “nothing will change.” Cid comments at the harshness of this action and Aurora ends up admitting that the little girl is in fact, her.
This has to be one of the most revealing scenes for Aurora’s character. Going along with the idea that the church just spreads misinformation, so it is not far-fetched to assume that the “Witch of Calamity” isn’t who she seems. The fact that this child version of Aurora is crying outside the lab of the experimented on orphaned kids, we can assume that she was one of the experimented on kids. Not only that, but we can infer because of the church’s labeling of her character as the “Witch of Calamity,” she is most likely a character that went rogue and went on a vengeful rampage to destroy the Cult of Diablos and possibly more. In a way, this turns her more into an anti-hero, which the previous episode’s references of the similarities between Cid and Aurora.
It’s kind of crazy how one scene, can infer such a significant amount about a character.
Alpha Explains Olivier
The scene shifts once again to Alpha explaining that Olivier was one of the few compatible demon possessed elves that obtained Diablo’s power. Archbishop Jack Nelson defends that it was necessary to implant demons cells into the kids, in order to defeat the demon. In reality, it was a front for something entirely different.
Alpha states that she’s not even sure if the memories that they are seeing are completely legitimate. Memories can change overtime. Once Olivier obtained the power of Diablos, her next mission was assumed to be that she will defeat Diablos. In actuality, she was to capture more of his cells and obtain its flesh.
Instead of having a story where everything is just conveniently revealed in one episode, having a sense of uncertainty to Alpha’s story still continues this ongoing mystery and drama about the cult. It’s that subtle unknown part of the story, that keeps it interesting and feel more realistic. Always keeping a mysterious feel and keeping the audience on their toes, helps maintain the viewer’s attention.
When a big battle occurred against the demon, Olivier battled against the left arm of Diablos while the Cult’s scientists used an ability to seal the arm away, containing it within a lab. From the demon’s flesh and cells, it was created into these pills that all of the previous antagonists like Griffey Zenon and Viscount Grease used in their battle against Shadow. Jack Nelson was one of the ones in the cult that helped research this pill. A pill that essentially grants power and eternal youth called the, “Beads of Diablos.” This “perfected” pill still had 2 major caveats.
Alexia immediately buds in to point out the obvious and most hilarious part of the physical differences that Jack Nelson lost all of his hair. Jack responds vehemently that “THAT was not one of the major flaws!” It was really all the stress he incurred from “cleaning up the mess” of all the other research participants. Being that he was essentially immortal, all the responsibilities fell on his shoulders.
With these major plot points, it is always fun to throw a few jokes in there to cut the tension every once in a while. Throwing tremendous shade at bald fat dudes seems to be the go-to for this episode.
Alpha corrects Alexia that the first flaw was basically that you had to ingest it on a regular bases like any other prescription drug pertaining to a long-term condition, once a year or else it loses its effects. The other major flaw is that they can only produce up to 12 pills per year, which coincides with the significance of being in the top “Twelve Knights of Round.”
It’s nice to see the story actually address the red pills and the Twelve Knights of Round that was sprinkled throughout the previous arcs. To introduce many unexplained important plot elements and leaving most of the scenes to be carried by comedic irony—it feels nice to see for the first time, the actual plot being explained.
Altogether, the cult needed the descendants of Diablos and Diablo’s blood to create this “Beads of Diablos.” Then, Alpha ends her statement mentioning that Jack is the “11th Knights of Round.” Jack starts to reveal his true nature as “Nelson of the Avaricious.” As he starts to transform like Viscount Grease and Griffey Zenon did, Delta stabs a big one right through his chest and tosses him in the water below.
This scene could have been another “letting the bad guy transform for no reason” cliche. Even though Jack Nelson survives and comes back to fight, it was a nice little wrinkle for a misdirection. Overtime, these kind of stories end up playing out all the same. So, it was nice to deliver some misdirection when the viewer isn’t expecting it. As a viewer, you can be caught up in the moment and those are the times where it’s best to add something fresh to that moment.
Epsilon scolds Delta for her quick action because they needed to procure as much information out of him as possible. Delta submits to Alpha and apologizes in her actionable defense in a cute cat-like fashion. Alpha explains that she is “constantly telling Delta that she needs to make sure her prey is actually dead.”
Once again, how the dialogue is delivered changes how your perception greatly. In this moment, we all really thought that Delta did indeed mess up. It really could have ended there, especially with the tone that The Eminence in Shadow provides. Instead of keeping it as a humorous punchline, the fat bald creep makes his come back to setup a “Delta versus Nelson, the Avaricious” match up.
Nelson the Avaricious explodes from the water below and breaks the memory, leading Alpha, Delta, Rose, Alexia and Beta trapped into an all white memory abyss location with him; separating them from the other characters. Alpha notes that this happening is likely “due to the security system” within the sanctuary.
One thing to mention about The Eminence in Shadow action, it isn’t actually all that great of animation and choreography of fights. However, each battle introduces something new that the audience hasn’t seen before. Up to this point, Delta never received much screen time acknowledging her character. Now that Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Nu and Epsilon has had their “character developing” moments, it looks like Delta fighting against the main villain here is the new wrinkle that is presumed to take place in the next episode.
The Most Compelling Component of this Arc
It’s not that surprising when the main plot is unfolding is when the anime becomes its most interesting. The first couple of episodes to start off this arc leaned heavier on character development and secondary plots like the juggling of romantic pursuers of Cid. While those aspects are fun and interesting in small doses, the more serious elements of any show is what is actually going to carry it. In this case, Cid might have finally faced something that could be of actual danger in Aurora.
Like with most of the characters in this anime, all of the most interesting characters are not the antagonists. Every single one of the antagonists in this anime have played into very basic archetypes, which is actually pretty disappointing. Where this anime shines is the creation of these new characters with ambiguous backgrounds and motivations that have a ton of room for growth. Characters like Epsilon and Delta carry on very specific roles with very easy to understand motivations; simplistic anime archetypes if you will. It is characters like Aurora that provide the most depth and has the ability to impact the main character the most, offering a compelling scenario. If we follow the model of how this anime builds great characters, then you know how much I liked Akane Nishino and Alexia Midgar. All of these character grew and changed because of some kind of acknowledgement of Cid. We can assume that Aurora is going to face a similar growth to her character as the mystery behind the Cult of Diablos continue to play out.
While it is nice to fill in on many of the mysterious Cult of Diablos plot elements, there still isn’t a feeling of a true threat to the main characters. That is where Aurora can fill into the role perfectly. For better or worse, her character is looking like the one that will make it or break it for this arc. Since she is suggested to be this female version of Cid, at least in power, there’s just so much to look forward to in that aspect. For all we know, Aurora could be taking on the darker aspects to Cid’s character. With the potential added history that she most likely was an experiment of the Cult of Diablos, her tagline of the “Witch of Calamity” should provide the true climatic end to the arc.
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