In the middle of speaking with Aurora, Jack Nelson suddenly sends Olivier to attack Cid. It appears that Cid got caught completely off guard as he slowly turns his head around and takes a devastating deep puncture wound through his abdomen. As devastating as it looks, it looks like this was the plan all along..
Recap & Reaction
In a repeat of the cliffhanger of the previous episode, this opener starts by finishing off what Cid’s smirk had instore for Jack Nelson’s lackey. By being able to adjust his organs and have Olivier become stationary by accepting her blow, Cid grabs hold of Olivier’s wrist and does something that no one could have seen coming. In the strangest turn of events, Cid’s extraordinary background prowess takes sadism to the next level by making Olivier a naughty adult video—pleasuring this Alpha look-a-like in the most hidden of sensual places as she dissipates into nirvana.
The best part about the opening scene is beating expectations with something creatively different. The expectation is that Cid could have used his power the whole time. In this case, no one expects Cid to defeat Olivier by biting her to orgasmic oblivion. This is one of those nuanced dark and twisted ways to make fight scenes compellingly different that somehow ended up being “pleasurable” at the same time.
Surprised that Cid took down Olivier, Jack continues to taunt Cid with Cid comically undercutting him with his mimicked response. Considering Jack’s “extra baggage,” of course he has another attack up his sleeve! Instead of one Olivier, he manifests tens if not hundreds of Oliviers to attack Cid. In one fell swoop, Cid takes down a handful of Olivier to reveal that he could actually use magic this whole time.
To Jack Nelson’s surprise, he reveals that Cid holds a special artifact in reference to his slime power. Then, Cid explains that he could use his power because he just needed time to make his magic more “solid,” so it doesn’t get absorbed. Jack responds once again to how improbable it is for humans to able to do with Cid is doing and launches the rest of the Oliviers to attack. Cid holds them off and tells Aurora that he’s “going to blast through all the steps.”
Yes! Yes! Atomic time!
After hinting to Aurora what Cid is going to do, he unleashes more of his abundant slime powers. As he starts his “I am the Bone of My Sword,” I mean the “I am the All-Range Atomic” line, Cid gets impaled through the chest once gain by Olivier. In dramatic fashion, he says his last line with a big smirk on his face, “Atomic.” Thus, obliterating the sanctuary by encompassing it into an all-white abyss.
One cannot fathom the creative ways Shadow-sama takes down his opponents, all the while offering some satisfying condescending retort that’s usually reserved for bad guys. Poor beautifully shaped Jack Nelson had no chance and stands as a forgettable antagonist.
Aurora and Cid’s Last Memory
The scene shifts momentarily to Cid in a black abyss with the chained up left arm of Diablo, slowly breaking free. Cid gets himself positioned to accept the possible incoming danger. Then, it zooms into his eyes to show what looks like Aurora breaking free of the chains instead.
This scene revealed a lot more than I was expecting. At this point, everyone has an idea that Aurora is somehow involved with the Cult of Diablos and Diablo itself, but to be teased as Diablo itself? That’s almost as unexpected as Cid biting Olivier.
Cid wakes up next to a glowing Aurora. Aurora tells Cid how “precious” this last memory was and how she was the one that called for Cid to release her the whole time; most likely referencing the gate that stalked Cid to enter the sanctuary. She states further that she just wanted to be able to “fade into nothing.” In one last moment of intimacy between the two, Aurora tells Cid, “if you ever find the real me, please..”
Kill her? Save her? Make her remember these fond memories? This scene is the perfect example to describe Aurora’s character up to this point, super mysterious and in a good way! Aurora’s character is left up for many different interpretations. There’s the whole crying as a kid memories at the Cult of Diablos laboratory. She has the whole missing memories trope going on as well. Also, there’s the whole multi-faceted layer to her personality, when you compare the Goddess Trials’ battle of her expressions versus how she interacts completely feminine-like with Cid. Let’s just toss in the fact that it’s been hinted by Cid how much he relates to her in their battle. There are so many contradicting elements to her character that it keeps it interesting enough for the story to continue to mean something.
The Useless Become a Team
After witnessing Shadow’s gigantic explosion emanating out of the now desecrated sanctuary, Alexia, Rose and Natsume walk through the woods to ponder their next moves. Feeling down about her uselessness, Alexia stops to begin a monologue about how they were unable to actually be of importance.
In the end, Alexia and Rose admit to themselves that “they are weak and ignorant.” Beta asks Alexia what her next steps will be and Alexia starts to lay the foundation of her next plan down, mentioning Natsume’s connections as a widely known novelist and Rose’s status as the Princess of Oriana Kingdom. Together, Alexia concludes what Cid and Iris did earlier in the series—that is to create their own organization. Rose and Natsume agrees with Natsume giving a slick and underhanded comment with “we have the hero, the wise woman and the deadweight.” Then, Alexia responds with her own sassy retort to Natsume with “you being the deadweight, right?”
Interestingly, there is actually a pretty big learning lesson here. Most of the happenings in the world are out of our control and it can be hard to determine what’s right from wrong. That’s what makes characters like Rose and Alexia a bit more relatable and fun. You can poke fun at their relationship dynamics between each other and laugh at the absurdity of them being anywhere near helpful to the plot. Seeing Alexia struggle to be useful while maintaining that sassy character gives The Eminence in Shadow a different layer of personality that you can’t get from Cid and Shadow Garden.
In regards to the main plot, Rose Oriana is now aware of Shadow Garden and the Cult of Diablos. This makes her character a step beyond the simple comedic value that she brought prior. As we’ll see later on, Rose and Iris take a leap forward in their own character developments by adding real dilemma to their stories.
Shadow Garden Updates
Alpha and Epsilon ride on a boat in disguise as Omega and Kai paddle the boat. Epsilon confirms to Alpha that the sanctuary has all been destroyed; confirming further that Shadow destroyed the holy sword and magical core in the process. In relations to Beta, it looks like they have an “in” with her connections with Alexia and Rose, having inside intel and special insight into the kingdoms.
All of the sudden, Epsilon confirms the earlier hint in the episode about Diablos that Diablos is AURORA!Epsilon asks Alpha if she should give a report to Shadow, but Alpha concludes that Shadow “already knows.”
This is where the anime’s ability to strike the right balance between humor and maintaining a somewhat serious plot, keeps it from falling too far down the “I can’t take anything serious” hole.
Gamma’s Next Shopping Location
After Shadow Garden’s revelations about who Diablo really is, the scene shifts to Luna(Gamma) having a conversation with a man offering a large sum of money for Mitsugoshi to open up a 2nd store in the City of Madlid of the Velgalta empire.
Desperate, the man lowers the price and gives ample reasons to bring the mall there to turn their “slum” into something of class. Gamma stays shrewd and disinterested until Nu comes in to inform her of “petroleum.” In the middle of the man speaking, Gamma offers to buy the whole street up.
Gammas brings a necessary logic to the story than anything really all that fascinating. Other than be a means to Shadow Garden’s commerce, it looks like Shadow Garden will be operating in a entirely different city, which opens up a different feel for a setting, more storylines and new characters,
Alpha Reminisces on Shadow Garden’s Wholesome Beginnings
Alpha comes across the Shadow Garden crew and reminisces about the time they built their first small home to be headquarters for Shadow Garden. Then, it flashes back to a younger Cid and Alpha looking at their slum-like house. Cid references how similar it was to the real world and Alpha acknowledges it was because of Cid’s wisdom that “taught” them how to build it.
Alpha explains further that she will be the one to train all the young Shadow Garden members to grant them to power to fight the Cult of Diablos. Cid responds that he will do his part by imparting his “power and wisdom, so they can stay true to their convictions in the darkest of shadows.” In reality, Cid just wanted to equip them with the ability to defend themselves because this was all supposed to be one giant role-playing experience.
Gamma arrives to interrupt Alpha on her reminiscing that the “Oriana Kingdom reports that Royal Chancellor Perv Asshat will be visiting the Royal Capital of Midgar.” This statement seems to be a great importance that likely leads us into the next arc as Alpha delivers another cryptic statement as “so it begins.”
Little by little, the story feeds us a little bit about the entire story of Cid and Shadow Garden. Seeing that the Cult of Diablos plot had a major move forward this episode, the second half of this episode lays down the foundation for the next significant arc and provides more background to how Shadow Garden started operating. Because of the overpowered strength of Shadow and Shadow Garden, this scene makes me wonder if the story wants us to feel more attached to these characters for an eventual heartbreaking moment.
The story has yet to encounter a noteworthy presence that could actually do any harm to the characters. The more and more the characters feel more lovable, the more it will hurt Cid and the audience if anything were to happen to them. As a story, it just makes the most sense to build to this crescendo moment that things will fall apart at some point.
A ‘Revealing’ Plot
The scene shifts once again to the “fan service” part of the episode as Alexia and Iris are speaking in a sauna about what to do next regarding the Church of Divine teachings. Alexia adamantly wants to tie the terrorist attack at the academy to the church with Iris agreeing. Due to their father’s response, no moves are necessary at this time; referencing how he sticks to a “don’t rock the boat” policy without providing any absolute proof. Iris concludes that they have to show him that they have the power necessary to overcome the kingdom’s issues.
Here, we are informed of King Oriana’s impending visit to Midgar, likely for the Bushin Festival.
If Iris wins as a “repeat” in the Bushin Festival, she hopes to gain more confidence over the Knight Order because of the international recognition. Alexia questions what their plans are if the Cult of Diablos or Shadow Garden appears? Iris’s response is that “no matter what artifact they have, her sword will not be defeated.” Alexia warns Iris further about how dangerous these artifacts are. Iris concludes that it’s likely the artifact’s power, rather than some human’s.
In regards to Cid, his power is likely mostly his. For the other characters, it’s likely for external reasons. This is how the story is leading us to believe and how we are left assuming that Iris is grossly underestimating the cult and Shadow Garden’s power.
Iris questions why Alexia got more involved than what she was authorized to do and Alexia quickly comes up with some excuses to leave, leaving Iris sitting self-consciously within her own cloud of thoughts.
Iris is disappointed in herself for letting the Crimson Order down, losing her most loyal and best members of the Knight Order. Right now, she has no way to restore it back to what she intended it to be. Because of the name she built for herself using her win at the Bushin Festival, she is looking forward to regaining the confidence from the kingdom and most importantly, herself.
Other than Shadow Harden, many of the show’s themes of the main supporting characters are centered around the character’s own inadequacy. Unlike Alexia and Rose coming together to form some kind of intelligence organization, Iris has taken a different approach. After her Crimson Knights organization completely faltered, she has felt the pressure to rise to the occasion, especially when going to the king of her suspicions about the Cult of Diablos related events. Touted as one of the most powerful characters, she’s clearly no match for Shadow or Shadow Garden. To prove her strength and build confidence in those around her, she hopes to prove that at the Bushin Festival. Here, Iris finally faces a real crossroads within her situation.
When Iris’s identity is heavily reliant on her strength, it starts to become a dilemma between the reality of her own strength vs what she can really do. The story has setup Iris to fail as we are led to believe that she believes too much in her own strength as referenced by Alexia in an earlier episode that Alpha is clearly stronger Maybe even unreachably stronger. That dilemma and her choices in the next arc may prove to be detrimental.
Bringing along Rose and Iris’s character development is super important. After Alexia, Aurora, Beta, Alpha and Delta get their shine, it’s important for the story to stay fresh, exploring aspects of other important characters that have very little fleshed out. Bringing in any kind of dilemma makes a character that was uninteresting & predictable to someone relatable & compelling. Iris and Rose has now entered the “relatable and compelling” fold.
Rose Oriana Becomes ‘Noteworthy’
A loud roar is heard outside as Iris wonders from the sauna what that sound is. Then, the scene shifts to Rose Oriana training outside in the rain, when all of the sudden red glowing veins start to take hold of her; leading the audience in in a cliffhanger scene. However, we can conclude by the red glowing veins that this might be Demon Possession?!
If there is one word to describe this episode, it would be “fresh.” Story after story of watching one anime after another, it can all sound and look the same. The Eminence in Shadow is no different. Another damn isekai, if you will. However, there are certain elements of this anime that keeps you off balance and entertained at the same time. Cid biting Olivier to defeat her was hilariously somehow lewd and creatively fun to witness. As the anime has continued to progress, the roster of interesting characters have ballooned as well. This episode advanced multiple characters’ progress in the story and added in new layers of depth to characters that didn’t have much before.
This “progress” includes Aurora’s mysterious backstory as she is quoted as the assumed main villain “Diablo.” Alexia, Beta and Rose are finding new roles for the impending next arc with Rose being the most fascinating as she likely “demon possessed.” The Shadow Garden is continuing on this unique balance between the serious and humorous plot elements, while mirroring those same dynamics within the characters themselves. To top it all off, Iris looks to be entering a very important part of the next arc as she faces her first real internal dilemma as a character; looking to overcome her failures as a leader and lack of strength.
The only real downside has been the lack of interesting antagonists. The theme seems to be a crescendo of bad guys providing bits of insight to the overarching plot. In many ways, Jack Nelson made this arc incredibly compelling for everyone else. Alpha, Delta, Olivier, Cid and the others all had their little moments revolving around Jack. From that perspective, Jack played his role incredibly well. Overall, this arc has been the most fun and it has been stacking good character development upon good character development. At the the same time, the plot itself is not anything out of this world, but still serves as a great vehicle to make all the characters shine in some regard. For that reason, I still maintain a very high score for The Eminence in Shadow and it doesn’t look like it’s going to be waning anytime soon.