Appearance Means Everything! The Eminence in Shadow Episode 15 [Review]

Rose must face her betroth with Perv Asshat and Cid goes into disguise as “Mundane Mann,” to participate in the Bushin Festival.

Recap & Reaction


The opening scene starts off with some Bushin Festival shenanigans. In a lighthearted start to the episode, many NPCs start to gather for the Bushin Festival to prove that they are the one and only person that stand above the rest. Cid standing atop a building starts to speak glowingly about how he wants to go about participating in the tournament. As one of the “top items” in his bucket list, he sees the chance of playing the “underdog,” who unexpectedly reveals that he is actually powerful.

Coming off what was a pretty damn good climatic end to an arc, this opener sets us up with another fun premise. Rather than continuing the ominous feel of the previous episode’s cliffhanger, this opener sets the tone for a more humorous and lighthearted one. Cid forcing himself to play the role of the “surprisingly strong underdog” while other people with the “wisdom” notices his “true power” is actually one of the best anime tropes an anime can accomplish. Our human instincts to cheer for the underdog and surprise people with our abilities is one of the most satisfying feelings in the world.

Brilliantly Mundane

Gamma comes back to her mansion above the Mitsugoshi Mall. In a stunned delight, she finds Shadow sitting upon the throne. As she approaches Shadow, her lack of coordination catches up and she collapses over from walking on heels. Curious to what Shadow-sama is doing there, Shadow goes on to explain that he has a plan to enter the Bushin Festival in disguise. Gamma asks for the reasoning, but of course Shadow plays it off like it’s a super top secret. In reality, he just wants to play out his dreams.

Using an alternative method of using the slime that Shadow bestowed upon Shadow Garden, Gammas rubs this new slime over Shadow’s face. Then, Nu brings out a notebook of different faces he could disguise as. Being that Shadow wants to be the most mediocre person possible, he chooses someone that looks just like him, “Mundane Mann,” the dark knight that is “lazy with no skill to speak of and died of an unremarkable death.” After putting on the face manipulation mechanism, Shadow turns into Mundane Mann. To make himself look more mediocre and weak, he plops his shoulder down and walks with a slouch, giving him this “ghoulish” zombie look.

Cid’s path to being in disguise for the Bushin Festival is actually a pretty funny idea for this arc. Cid is literally playing the part of trying to be the “underdog” by playing the part of being an underdog. Try trying to explain what is happening in this episode to someone..

These are the kind of moments that probably hits a bit funnier in the manga than the anime. Sometimes reading what is happening is a bit more laugh out loud funny than seeing it animated this way.

First ‘Underdog’ Setup

The scene shifts to “Mundane” walking slouched over on the sidewalk, when a purple haired warrior named “Annerose Nichteshen” of Velgalta’s Seven Blades appears to stop Mundane. Seeing Mundane’s mediocre and powerless look, she warns Mundane of how useless it is for him to join. Mundane responds with the cliche, “don’t judge a book by its cover.”

Right off the bat, Cid gets what he wants. This is the stereotypical anime scene that starts off with characters misjudging the character that looks “weak.” It’s great that the writer introduced a fresh new character to help bring in this “Mundane” Cid arc.

Ecstatic that Cid’s “Mundane” disguise is working perfectly for this anime trope, he then runs into a bald brute looking man with a handful of his lackeys. This bald brute gives Mundane a cliche patronizing statement, while Mundane stoically says, “I’m stronger than you.” Typically, this scene leads to the main character unexpectedly beating the crap out of the patronizing bald one, but Cid instead opts to take the beat down to reserve his moment of “beating the expectations” later.

Once again, Annerose warns Mundane of how dangerous it is if he participates in the Bushin Festival and that she let him get beat up as a warning sign. In a mundane response, Mundane brushes it off and shows Annerose just how “not damaged” he is. Thus, this scene would be the spark of Annerose being the “wise” character that actually starts to realize Mundane’s strength.

In any scene like this, you always have to have that brute-like jerk off character archetype that underestimates his opponents. In a small little twist where Cid could have rocked the bald hooligan’s world, he took the beating instead and sets up Annerose further to continue to misjudge him. Because we all know who and what Mundane Mann is actually capable of, it’s fun to see all the gags and potential unexpected twists that comes from those expectations. Even though there is a ton of comedic irony in this episode, we still want to see Mundane Mann show off what he is capable of because we want to feel the satisfaction from seeing the characters’ reactions. In a sense, what the writer is making fun of here is still maintaining the same effect even as a parody. There’s most definitely some kind of comedic irony inception going on here..

Gambling is Bad

Cid sits down with Skel to talk about the Bushin Festival at the Tuna King restaurant. Skel starts off the conversation with his gambling shenanigans and how he’s going to make money from the fights. Cid continues to mull over to himself how difficult it’ll be to get the right reactions that mimics the best “underdog” anime trope. Providing insight into potential Bushin Festival winners, Skel mentions Velgalta Empire’s Gladiatrix, Rose Oriana and Princess Iris as noteworthy participates. Then, Cid pulls out a souvenir he got for Skel from Lindwurm and gets up to walk away. This distracts Skel from asking Cid for money for his bad gambling scheme. Cid leaves with a to-go order of three sandwiches and makes his way out.

As dismissive as Cid is of Skel, it can kind of have that same effect on the audience as well. There’s this whole gambling gag with Skel, but it’s just a “whatever” kind of part of this scene and episode in general. Instead of Po and Skel being there for just the gag, it’d be nice if they had some redeeming characteristics about them. Otherwise, they are throwaway “joke” characters. This is where the lack of involving a strong plot with the humor can make it seem too bland. That is where the importance of Rose’s character is much needed in the upcoming scene.

Rose’s Plot

Cid continues walking throughout the town square, contemplating his next actions as Mundane Mann and he runs into none other than Rose Oriana. She notices that he is holding a Tuna King bag; explaining to Cid how Natsume Kafka, Alexia Midgar and herself ate there the other day and how much closer they are getting.

After ending the previous episode on a very important and telling cliffhanger, you’d think Rose would have shown up sooner, but stories do need to set itself up first. Up until this point of this episode, there has been some amusing and funny moments, but nothing of substance. That is until Rose provides a little bit more insight to her character next.

Suddenly, the tone of their conversation gets a bit more serious and intense as Rose tells Cid how she has to meet up with her father to be introduced to her betroth, Perv Asshat.

Before the last episode, not much was known about Rose. Now, we are introduced with major components to her character. Dilemma does everything for a character. I wished they played off the revelations of her character sooner to go in contrast with Cid’s mission as Mundane Mann.

Rose continues her monologue about how she became a swordsman. Because her country is defined by “art and culture,” it was against her family’s and the kingdom’s wishes for her to become one. Cid says how it’s weird that “dark knights don’t rank very high in the Oriana hierarchy,” hammering it in further how much her country focuses on art and culture like a Sid Meier’s Civilization game. She goes on to reference a past memory about a certain swordsman with a bag on his head when she quite young that influenced her to choose this path. Hilariously, it was very obviously Cid. As they get ready to part ways, Cid tosses a sandwich to Rose and tells her to “try to relax a little.”

There are quite a few things that this scene establishes about Rose. Rose going against her kingdom’s wishes to be that perfect little princess that follows in the kingdom’s footsteps and choosing something entirely different is very relatable. Add in the fact that she chose to be a swordsman or a dark knight that isn’t seen as a highly regarded position in her kingdom, makes it that much more relatable. It’s like when you decide to not be a doctor or a lawyer, but become a crappy anime blogger instead.

Mundane Troping

After Cid & Rose have an important bonding moment, the scene shifts forward in the story to Cid & Skel watching the preliminary fights. Skel goes on to tell Cid that he “collects” data on fights to increase his chances on bets, asking Cid once again for money to “raise his odds of winning.” Popping out of nowhere a new character, “Gold Gilded the Unbeaten Legend” or “Goldy Gilded, the Ever-Victorious Golden Dragon” appears and takes interest in Skel’s tabulations of the fights. Goldy Gilded tells Skel how he will tab the next fight. As Skel gets enamored with Golden, Cid nonchalantly says, “I need to take a poo.”

Of the fight they were watching, “Imatry Nottaloos” was declared the winner. Then, the next fight ends up being Gonzales Machombre versus Mundane Mann. Goldy points out that he can tell a person’s power level before the fight begins and points to all of Gonzalez’s physical attributes, giving him a score of “1,364.” Mundane Mann appears and lists all of Mundane’s weak physical attributes, giving him a power level of “33.”

Clearly, Goldy’s character is the satirical take on anime battle level tropes. Nothing epitomizes this more than Dragon Ball Z and Super. Battle levels are pretty useless and makes no sense in the end.

After the referee starts the battle, the audience instantly reacts in shock as Gonzales lays down on the floor right away. No one was able to see what happened except for one person in the audience, the purple haired Annerose Nichteshen. Flashing to what exactly happened, Annerose was able to witness Cid punching Gonzales two times in the chin.

Isn’t it funny how anime tropes like using characters that are strong, to be the ones that can see other people’s true strength? In a way, being able to see things that ordinary people shouldn’t is supposed to represent experience and wisdom. Sometimes, animes blows this correlation out of proportion. Once again, I can’t help but think about Dragon Ball Z or any scene that involves other characters moving so fast the eyes can’t see.

Goldy goes on to portray himself like he knew that that was going to happen, explaining this to be a learning lesson to Skel that “there are no absolutes.” Meanwhile, he contradicts himself by explaining to Skel that there are “two ways to bet, one on the higher power level” or one where you “seek out weak competitors and bet on their opponents.” Skel is somehow absolutely convinced like any other gambling degenerate and asks Cid after he comes back from his “poo” that he needs money to bet on an “absolute win” on Goldy; that next fight being between Mundane Mann versus Goldy Gilded.

This scene is a perfect explanation of why gambling is so bad.

I loved the bit here and little parody takes on the smaller elements of anime tropes. There isn’t anything too deep about these scenes. They were clearly created to just make fun of certain tropes.

Cid gets a huge grin on his face as he notices Annerose not buying the fact that Mundane won “by a fluke.” This all plays well into Cid’s intended reaction from characters like Annerose.

Everything to this point that involved Mundane Mann has been pretty textbook in how these scenes typically play out in a normal anime story. Besides the humorous spin with Cid purposefully creating these moments, what kind of dilemma will Cid face if he’s not able to get the reactions he was looking for? Maybe another “real” underdog character comes up and takes his glory? These are the kinds of misdirection I hope to see to make it more compelling.

A Knifing Start to Rose and Asshat’s Relationship

Skel comes running to Cid that “there’s been an incident.” It looks like Rose ended up stabbing Perv Asshat and ran off. To Cid’s surprise, he asks “why?”

Rose only had two scenes before this moment occurred, stemming from the end the previous episode. It’s clear that she’s likely demon possessed and you’d have to think that that played a role in how she interacted with Perv Asshat. Because of the significance of this for Rose, I would have loved more scenes of Rose be built into the episode. I have not read the manga or anything, but episodes like these lack that serious plot element that would have helped balanced out the episode. Going back and forth between Rose dealing with her “demon possession” issue and Cid playing as “Mundane Mann” would have brought such a funny contrast to the story.

It’s hard to criticize something that might end up playing out better in the next episode or two. However, these episodes that focus on many of the funny parodies can be pretty hit or miss and feel dry at times without a wider range of elicited emotions. If you don’t find it funny, it will be boring to you..

Last Thoughts


Many story arcs go through peaks and valleys in a crescendo of episodes. Like the previous 2 episodes of high octane action and very important plot revelations, this episode takes a step back to continue setting up the next story arc. This time, it is not Cid as Shadow, but Cid as undercover “Mundane Mann” that takes front and center. Cid trying to live out another anime trope of being the underdog winner, tries his best to look as “backgroundy” and weak as possible to gain the most surprising reaction from the audience.

Love the Jabs at Anime Tropes

This is actually one of the best tropes the writer can make something satirical of because it is a trope that always works out in a story. When has their been a scene of an underdog surprising people of their power that wasn’t an entertaining part of the story? So, while this episode focused on making fun of these specific anime tropes, it sets up the next episode for some potential fireworks. Most likely, we get to see Mundane Mann actually try to fight and we get to see everything surrounding Rose start to unfold.

This Episode Needs More Balance

This episode doesn’t have anything quite groundbreaking and has been following a formula of past episodes. Without the serious elements of the plot like with Rose, it would just be “another episode we’ve seen before.” If you are really into the humor of these kinds of episodes, then you probably enjoyed it a lot. I think most people would feel like this episode was just okay.

More Plot and Rose Oriana Please

Doing something unexpectedly compelling is a must for a good story. Considering Cid’s arc as “Mundane Mann,” this episode was a fun one, but I’m always searching for something “more.” This is the case when you have an overpowered character like Cid with no real need to grow as a character. Hopefully, characters like Rose become the forefront of the story as she is going through serious character development. I would have loved to see more of a 50-50 split between Cid and Rose in this episode. Considering how this episode ended, we should be seeing more of Rose.. hopefully..



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