Cid & Aurora make their way to the center of the sanctuary, Epsilon’s crew looks for sanctuary secrets and Delta starts beating the ugly out of Jack Nelson.
Recap & Reaction
Alpha, Alexia, Delta, Beta and Rose find themselves separated in a white abyss memory loop, separated from Epsilon’s group. The episode begins right where the last episode ended with Delta taking on clones of Jack Nelson.
Nelson the Cannon Fodder, I mean the Avaricious, finds himself duplicating more fit clones of his body to fight Delta. Delta playing the archetype of the “musclehead,” starts slicing and dicing these unimpressive duplicates of Jack through the use of her beastly claws.
Delta starts to notice that something is up regarding her powers when she attacks and block blows from Jack—the slime on her body is starting to melt off. Alpha deduces that the sanctuary is absorbing their magic as they get closer to the center and in return, it makes Jack stronger.
As I mentioned in the previous review, this is set up to be a highlight episode for Delta. Of course, this episode tops it off with some added fanservice to boot.
Investigation of the Sanctuary
Epsilon and the others go investigate the sanctuary while Delta plays “beast mode” with the bald old man. As they walk through the sanctuary, a zombie appears out of nowhere. Epsilon figures that these zombies are just entities similar to the Goddess’ Trials that is merely reacting to them because they are the “demon possessed. She walks right through the zombie and it ends up disappearing into thin air.
After their interaction with the zombie, Epsilon, Omega, Kai and the rest of their group come across a library of books. It just so happens to be key information about the Cult of Diablos and the sanctuary. Epsilon praises Shadow for saving them from the hands of the Cult of Diablos as they sift through the information in the books. Omega notes that “with this information, they won’t have to come back.” Epsilon takes a camera from Mitsogoshi, the “Rolapoid,” documenting all of the books’ information by taking pictures. As they are all scoping through the books, they notice their slime suit starting to fall apart because of being near the center of the sanctuary.
This scene used the Epsilon “slime boob bit” again as this scene deliver another funny punchline of Epsilon’s “slime breasts” falling apart. That subtle reaction and moment of silence at seeing Epsilon absorbs it back up with the line, “did something just happen?” This might be the funniest delivered bit of the entire episode!
Cid & Aurora Wander into Another Memory Loop
Cid and Aurora end up walking in an endless void into another memory as Cid and Aurora walk upside down from each other; delivering another perverted joke as Aurora notes that Cid shouldn’t look up or down. Suddenly, they end up falling into the battlefield fight against Diablo memory that was reference in the prior episode.
On this battlefield, there lies a crying younger Aurora and the key to Cid & Aurora’s escape from this current memory loop. Aurora picks up a sword to cut down her younger crying self, except all the dead men on the battlefield turn into zombies, ambushing Aurora. Cid acts heroically by saving Aurora from the zombies, holding her in his arms like she really was a “damsel in distress.” Both come to an agreement that this was likely a “security measure” that the sanctuary system is reacting to because of Aurora and Cid’s presence.
Asking Aurora what happens if a person dies within the memories, Aurora concludes that she would likely end up back in the white abyss.
The most obvious part about this whole scene is Cid just randomly keeping his left eye shut. I think the writer used a little humor of Cid getting sat on by Aurora as a way to mask why Cid all of the sudden has one of his eyes closed.
Very quickly, there seems to already be good chemistry between Cid and Aurora. The back and forth quippy dialogue seem to give off a natural partnership dynamic. That quick familiarity between the two might have been developed through their battle at the Goddess’ Trials. Because of the audience’s knowledge and introduction to Aurora as the “Witch of Calamity,” it makes this interaction between Cid and Aurora all the more fascinating because of so many unknowns. Up to this point, we know that she doesn’t fully have her memories. At the same time, she comes off as someone that is clearly hiding some things. However, there is a sense of genuine kindness to Aurora’s character. These are the kinds of compelling circumstances that make the characters and the overall story continually be engaging.
After fighting off many zombies with a few scenes of both Aurora and Cid finding amusing ways to take down each zombie, they realize that without their magic, the duration of this battle could be forever. To combat their tedious situation, Cid so bravely takes it upon himself to strike down the crying young Aurora to break the current battlefield memory loop.
Continuing their somewhat flirtatious back and forth, this scene was just kind of ironically amusing to see them unconcerned with thrashing the zombies. This was more about the mysteriously dark moment of Cid cutting down the child memory of Aurora.
Nelson the Avaricious vs Delta Cont..
Delta continues slashing down one handsome bald Jack clone after another. We continue to see the brutality and even more fanservice as Delta uses her control over the slime to cover the important “NSFW” areas of her body. Massacring one less handsome Jack after another, Delta’s powers should have been limited due to the magic restraints, but Delta is too much of a beast.. literally. To Jack’s unwittingly surprise, he notes that Delta “unlocked” her powers, noting further that this is an ability that was supposed to be “locked away” eons ago. Alpha also takes down one of the clones as she questions the legitimacy of Jack’s statement.
Throughout all the underwhelming antagonists of this anime, at least the audience gets to laugh at Jack. Being another lame villain and a bit too”plot device-y”, he still grants us with tons of insight that is likely to lead the story to something more significant. As long as we are blessed with increasing the profile of many other characters through Jack’s villainous character arc, the likability of his character becomes less and less of a concern.
Jack ends up pulling out all the stops by using his entire power; that power being more clones of his handsome fluffy self. Delta pulls out something more incredibly terrifying with the “Iron Slab,” creating what looks like a massive machete draping herself in a blue aura.
Anytime you use classic battle aura and present some kind of badass fighting move, everyone wins.
Eventually, the fight between Delta and Nelson the Avaricious becomes quite the overkill. Instead of the first couple of scenes of Jack and Delta focusing on the “action” and giving plot insight, Alexia explaining Delta’s fighting ability is a clear character development moment for Delta. Alexia notes that Delta might not actually be a follower of Shadow because of her beastly fighting style being counterintuitive to Shadow’s. Natsume(Beta) notes that Delta might actually just be the brute or cliche “muscle brained” one of the group.
After defeating 100 clones of the handsomely bald Jack Nelson, the memories break and they all find themselves back at the entrance of the statue of Olivier. Jack in his desperation, cries out to awaken Olivier. In what looks like to be a showdown between Shadow Garden and Olivier, Epsilon shows up signaling that they wrapped up their investigation; acquiring all the information and insight into the sanctuary’s security. Alpha reveals that their whole purpose was to “cut off the power” of the sanctuary and mentions how playing with these unknown memories isn’t quite the smart move anyways. Stunned by Shadow Garden just simply walking away from what looked to be an epic showdown, Jack just stands there with a mute Olivier.
This scene hit on many different elements. We get to see Olivier return for the first time; adding in a fresh and mysterious element into the story. The Shadow Garden actually retreats with a taunt to Jack that he wouldn’t dare chase after them. Alpha shows that she’s “alpha” by taming and snapping Delta back to doggie submission. Then, as all the ladies escape, Natsume(Beta) trades barbs with Alexia as they teleport back out of the sanctuary. In what was once building into a high tension climatic moment, quickly becomes “ho-hom.”
In these kind of shows where the audience is constantly trying to gauge everyone’s powers and where they stand, the fact that Jack with Olivier did not chase after them is quite telling. Even with the return of Olivier, Jack and Olivier appears to still be no match for the Shadow Garden. After witnessing Delta just manhandle all of Jack’s clones like she’s throwing a tantrum for some catnip, there is still no antagonist that has yet, provide any real resistance to Shadow or the Shadow Garden.
Trying to dissect the writer’s perspective, building all of these characteristics and dynamics between them help fill in a lot of the fun dialogue. For a character like Rose, she doesn’t actually have anything interesting or insightful to say. For these other characters like Alexia, Beta and Epsilon, there are clear “go-to” dialogue to help round out the plot specific dialogue. If the writer was going to add Alexia and Rose to the mix with the Shadow Garden, it makes a ton of sense to bridge some kind of relational gap between Alexia and Rose with Beta. It’s an easy way to help make light of these kind of scenes and have something more substantial to offer at the same time.
Cid Isn’t the Hero
Needing to break the chains to the main door to access the memory core to escape the memory loops of the sanctuary, Cid and Aurora find a mystic sword standing in the middle of the room. Clearly representing and Aurora outright mentioning that the sword needs to be used to break the sanctuary chains, Cid seemingly tries to remove it to no avail. Internally getting excited about this classic scene, he notes that the “chosen one” needs to be the one to remove the sword. Continuing an ongoing joke, Aurora assumes that Cid “memorized” all of these ancient texts and can read the writings on the sword. Being stuck, both of them sit there and wait until something happens as Cid mentions that “this is probably when the protagonist shows up.”
It’s pretty funny to note that whenever something seriously plot worthy comes up as the characters hit a snag, it’s hard to make out if Cid is just letting these cliche tropes play out or not. That contrast in knowing the character’s aims as wanting to be the “background character” with the serious tone of presentation style of the anime makes the audience think of contradicting thoughts about what is actually occurring. Earlier, Cid mentioned that he “knows” that he won’t be able to cut the chains without actually trying to cut the chains. This moment is the perfect moment of questioning whether he is just saying what he is saying because he wants the scene to traditionally play out or he really can’t get out. The answer to those questions of how he’d handle these kind of moments is most likely the former.
Jack Brings Olivier to Confront Cid and Aurora
Relieved that the Shadow Garden is gone, Jack devises some excuses in order to make himself look good in front of the other Cult of Diablos members, especially for the 12 Knights of Round. Then, a notification of a security breach pops up for a couple of hooligans being in the middle of the sanctuary. Jack brings Olivier there to confront these would be trespassers.
Cid waits patiently in the middle of the sanctuary with Aurora for the protagonist to show up. To their surprise, “hage” or the “bald man” shows up. Cid deduces that “maybe this isn’t the protagonist, maybe it’s the villain showing up first to stop the protagonist.”
Clearly, the story is crescendoing from a bunch of the main side characters to the eventual climatic moments between the arc’s most important characters.
Using Jack Nelson to be the main butt of the joke was a great use of his character. Cid’s scenes that uses this kind of humor sometimes isn’t the most “laughing out loud” moment. However, this moment provided some satisfyingly condescending dialogue about who the “bald man” is.
Olivier Smacks Cid Around
As with most heroic stories, Cid finds himself crossing swords with Olivier; similar to the Aurora bout, but actually incurring blows. When the battles stops momentarily, Jack questions “why Cid is smiling?” The battle resumes again as Cid takes a deep blood gashing blow to his left shoulder area and the fight stops once again. He says out loud how “Olivier doesn’t have a heart,” in regards to their communication through fighting. This is in reference to Aurora and Shadow’s fight at the Goddess’ Trials where Cid “communicated” with Aurora by crossing swords.
Aurora steps in to gift the audience the ole’ “I’ll sacrifice myself for you scene, as the female lead that ‘can’t bare to see her new knight and shining armor’ die off.” This is another satirical moment for those female character leads that try to save protagonist. Jack offers Aurora that “if you join us, we’ll give you back your complete memories and let the boy go.” Befuddled that Aurora and Jack is just assuming that he’s going to lose, Cid steps in one more time to give it another shot at Aurora.
We’ve seen Cid purposefully take on damage one fight scene after another, even letting himself almost die in the process during the Sherry Barnett arc. Those moments when Cid fought Rose Oriana in the tournament, the audience was robbed of an actual fight and instead received Cid’s background character jokes. Similar can be said about Shadow’s fight against Aurora in the Goddess’ trials. The stage is set again for something significant that Cid will do. This may be the right situation where we get to see an “I Am Atomic” moment occur once again.
In typical underestimating bad guy fashion, Jack sends Olivier to attack Cid as he’s in the middle of conversing with Aurora. This time, she delivers what looks like a decisive blow through Cid’s chest. Then, it shows Aurora giving us the quintessential “oh no” look as the animation and artwork turns into just black and red—enveloping the audience into the dramatic effects. In an epicly dramatic fashion Cid opens his right eye that he had closed since the battlefield memory scene and says, “tsukamaeta” or “got you.” Thus, closing out the episode with another fantastic cliffhanger.
Thank Kami-sama for a Plot
When stories and satirical shows like The Eminence in Shadow have a clear slant towards the humor and use of comedic irony, it’s paramount that the characters themselves can carry a story without a strong plot. Shows like Uncle From Another World, leave out too much of the plot, making the story not mean as much without a true antagonist. This anime has enough of a balance between the humor and the serious tone of the plot to make dramatic moments still feel significant.
The Growing List of Boring Antagonists
For a character like Jack Nelson, he’s been the cannon fodder ever since be was introduced. Not only is he an uninteresting plot device that becomes the butt of many of the jokes, his role is clearly leading the audience to something significant happening with Olivier and Aurora. Even though I wish a character as significant as Jack Nelson would be more than just a joke and cannon fodder, his character will quickly be pushed to the side if Aurora or Olivier provide an epic unforeseen circumstance. Maybe Cid does end up doing something wildly entertaining?
Giving the Audience ‘Action’ and a Few Laughs
This arc and episode helped fill in a lot of missing gaps within the Cult of Diablos story. In that aspect, it was good to clarify parts of the story that just seemed kind of confusing. For this episode, I think it’s safe to say that the Epsilon joke and fanservice was the highlight of the episode for me. The Cid and Aurora dynamic also seemed to work in an endearing way. This all culminated into Aurora giving us a dig at the classic scenario of a lover wanting to sacrifice herself to save her significant other. While many of the moments in this episode didn’t massively outshine the other, each one provided something of value like interesting plot insights, fanservice, funny character quips and fresh action sequences. With the episode ending the way it did, it sets us up for a truly climatic moment. Or it could just end up being one big joke.. No matter what happens, the setup is there to deliver something special.
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