Going “Beyond the Mid.” The Eminence in Shadow Episode 18 [Review]

Claire goes psycho, Asshat plots, Iris takes a significant step forward and Beatrix offers people some sandwiches.

Recap & Reaction


It’s an opener that we’ve all expected out of the incredibly abusive elder sibling in Claire with her on top of Cid with hands grasped around his neck. No one can understand the level of distraught and disappointment she had to endure being home alone without her loving younger sibling was painful. Here, Cid learns that rage is something that festers and increases overtime.

I can’t tell if I’m just a degenerate, but this scene felt somewhat “explicit,” in the nudge, nudge, wink, wink kind of way.

They continue catching up by ways of strangulation. Apparently, Cid makes tons of promises that he doesn’t keep and Claire busts out a special ticket for attendance at the Bushin Festival. As it turns out, Claire is the replacement for Rose’s participation at the festival.

Claire brings a perspective out of Cid that we don’t typically get from other parts of the plot. With Rose and Alexia, we get the “romantic interest” dynamic. With Claire, we get the funny sibling dynamic with potential to be more than just the “older abusive sister who Cid allows to just be abused by to maintain his background prowess.” To have these two start off the episode was a refreshing choice.

Alexia Gets Left Behind

Alexia shows up to her room to find out that Natsume cleaned out her room and left for “research,” leaving behind a packet of information detailing Oriana Kingdom’s connection to different religious organizations.  

Suddenly, Alexia hears a loud noise coming from outside coming from the Bushin Festival stadium. She then says to herself that she “refuses to pity herself anymore,” in reference to Cid and Alexia’s train discussion before her kidnapping. 

After playing the role of romantic love interest and being entangled into the plot, what is next for Alexia? This scene and Rose mentioning in the previous episode of Alexia’s increased strength shows that she is ready to show that she isn’t weak or “useless.” How she will display her strength and how important it will be to the story is the mystery up to this point.

Cid is VIP

The scene shifts to Cid entering the special reserved seating location. That location turns out to be of special “VIP status” as Cid walks to his seat and runs into a special red-headed audience member, Iris Midgar.

I liked how the writer played with assumptions here. Thinking that Claire’s ticket will just be a general audience stadium, when in fact the ticket was for the highest class possible. It’s a great way to unexpectedly get Iris and another character later involved within the story.

Cid introduces himself and apologizes for finding the wrong seat. Iris notices his name from the Alexia kidnapping incident and is fond of his sister Claire, whom she wants to have her join her own “personal order.”

Iris tells Cid that he is actually in the right seat because Claire “must have given him the ticket.” Not typical of royalty, she bows her head to apologize about the previous Alexia incidents while her “yes men” look on in shock due to her action.

Not only has this episode to this point given us Cid in a fresh new light with Claire coming back, this starts the beginning of Iris’s character development as teased when she was in the sauna with Alexia.

Being that Iris’s reaction is totally against Cid’s attempts at being a background character, he brings up the fact that Alexia and himself played “fetch with coins.” Iris, confused that they were playing with a dog; Cid slightly corrects her by inferring that “he was the dog.”

It’s kind of a tame first interaction between Iris and Cid. Also of note, it seems like she isn’t aware of any specific details of Cid and Alexia’s previous relationship. In a way, that kind of tells us how close or not close Alexia really is to Iris when it comes to “those kinds of matters.”

One of the people sitting nearby Iris asks, “who do you look forward to watching in the tournament?” Iris responds with “Annerose.” Eventually, Cid brings up if there was anyone else in particular of note. Iris seems aloof at the question, clearly not knowing who Mundane Mann is. However, the other two basically acknowledge that Mundane Mann was “amateurish” and “lucky,” to get this far in the tournament. To Cid’s peak delight, he relishes his perfect perception he manifested for Mundane Mann.

Iris brings up another fighter she’s looking forward to seeing and that is an “elf swordmaster” known as the “War Goddess,” who was the “first Bushin Festival champion.” That elf is Beatrix. To Cid’s surprise, he didn’t expect her to be famous and he gets up from the conversation to take a break.

Iris’s interest in Beatrix is the obvious link here to bring in her into the story, which leads us quickly into the next scene with the mysterious elf.

An Elf w/ Tons of Sandwiches

Cid walks down the hallway and notices someone else walking as well. All of the sudden, there is a soft soothing voice saying, “Cid.” Like how most of these scenes are shot, there is a front facing camera angle of Cid, panning to the side, revealing Beatrix behind him.

This scene sets up something mysterious, but if this episode’s trend is any indication and the teasing of Beatrix’s involvement in the story, it’s Beatrix..

Both have a somewhat awkward back and forth with Beatrix questioning whether or not Cid was purposefully ignoring her. After confirming multiple times that Cid wasn’t, she asks hims the “have you seen an elf” question again. Obviously, Cid says, “no.” Next, the conversation takes an interesting turn where Cid asks about the basket of food she’s holding in her hand. Noticing that she has a bit too much, gives a sandwich to Cid and he gives one of his in return.

What is up with these characters and sandwich wrappers?! There is surely a simple explanation coming by the end of the season, hinted by Rose’s “safekeeping” of Cid’s sandwich wrapper.

Sir Perv Asshat & Iris

Expecting Cid to return to his seat, it’s none other than Perv Asshat sitting down in Cid’s seat. He apologizes for his king as he’s been not “functioning” very well. Perv asks about her father, King Klaus. It turns out that both kings expect to start watching the tournament starting the next day.

The assumption I had to this point was that Rose would go straight to Perv to take him down. There hasn’t been an antagonist yet, that had an aura of being a long lasting menacing bad guy. Perv Asshat showing up in this manner helps build that profile more than any of the antagonists in the previous arcs.

Perv notices the purple-haired fencer stepping into the fight. He announces how much he wants to hire her for his kingdom with Iris wanting to recruit her into Midgar as well.

Perv then brings up Annerose’s opponent, Mundane Mann, to ask about what IRis thinks about him. While she doesn’t think he’s that impressive, there’s “no way to know for sure,” pointing out that it’s hard to judge because of his “absolute confidence” and that his eyes “shows a path to victory.” Perv goes on to hint that he actually does have some “proficiency” in the way of the sword.

In the previous episodes with Goldy and Skel, there was a clear focus on making fun of anime tropes of “determining power levels.” Here, Iris and Perv are legitimately analyzing the strength of the fighters like any of typical anime character would. Also, you have Perv Asshat indicating how much stronger he probably is. The joke of Mundane Mann is that the audience knows its Cid. With Perv Asshat, he’s playing more of that legitimate role of not knowing exactly how strong and knowledgeable he is.

Mundane Mann vs Annerose

The match begins and Annerose is confident that Mundane’s greatest strength is his speed and so she makes a quick strike. Making Mundane defend, she hoped to stop him early with a counter to his defense. When she thought she had him, Mundane quickly gryd past her expectations and ended up appearing behind her, in cliche fashion.

After getting kicked into the air and getting slashed back into the ground, Annerose realizes how outclassed she is.

This very first hint of real action serving as a contrast to the humorous intent of the characters themselves. Having Mundane Mann and Annerose fight in a manner commendable of a legitimately good action scene is a brilliant contrast.

Iris notices that Annerose has stopped and Perv says that she is gearing up for a “counterattack.” Providing further insight, he says that “it’s likely her only option.”

After Annerose’s last attempt to counterattack Mundane, the match ends with Mundane putting his sword back into his sheath and Annerose lying unconscious on the ground with parts of her armor in shambles. In another angle, you see her lying down with a gash on her shoulder.

Although this fight was rather short and everyone knows the outcome, it was great to see an actual fight occur.

Iris’s Hubris and Perv’s Insight

Perv says that Iris was pretty on point with her analysis of Mundane Mann having “absolute confidence.” In response, she says that “you couldn’t have necessarily predicted the outcome.” Both are confused by the fact that someone of his caliber have gone “unnoticed for so long,” being that his fencing style is unknown. Still, Iris acknowledges that his fencing style is highly effective.

The conversation moves onto the bombshell of a match up. Iris versus Mundane Mann is the next fight. With Perv asking Iris about how she would fair against Mundane, she should win “if that was the full extent of his powers.” Then again, she explains how he could possibly be “disguising his stance and technique.” Her hubris starts to show again as she is confident that she’ll defeat him no matter what.

For all that has been shown about Perv Asshat, it was nice to see the story build this part of his character. For someone that likely works for the cult and has somehow taken control over Oriana Kingdom, showing his intelligence makes it that much more intriguing.

Iris gets up to get ready for her fight and Perv goes about his way. As he is walking in the hallway, he asks one of his servants to look into Mundane Mann’s past, “suspecting that he is from the underworld.” Further explaining that “if the Lawless City is backing him, things could get difficult.” His servant suggests the fact that he could be Shadow Garden, but Perv doesn’t think so because “he’s a man..”

A “Mundane Mann.”

Sorry, I had to!

There are multiple layers at work with what Perv mentions about Mundane Mann, himself and this “underworld.” This further develops Perv’s character, making him a more intriguing antagonist, making the audience ponder about this new world possibility of this “underworld” and of course, the humorous nature of Mundane’s real identity.

The Mundane Mann & Annerose Anime Trope

Annerose catches up to Mundane Mann to thank him for the beating. Because of how much stronger she’s gotten, being humbled shows how much room for improvement she actually needs. They shake hands as Mundane mentions that “that was the first time he fought without his shackles.”

As Mundane is walking away, Annerose yells out, “who are you really?” Mundane responds with, “a fool that abandoned everything in pursuit of strength.”

As with the previous episodes with Annerose, the writer uses her character for the cliche anime trope scenes.

What Becomes of Iris & Beatrix?

After a heartfelt moment between Annerose and Mundane Mann, the scene shifts to Iris blowing a crater in defeat of her opponent. Absolutely focused on being back-to-back Bushin Festival champ, she sees Beatrix on the sideline watching her, eating a sandwich. She rushes after her as Beatrix starts to leave the stadium. Catching up to Beatrix outside the stadium, Iris questions if Beatrix is in fact Beatrix. Catching Iris off, she asks if Iris if she wants a sandwich because “it’ll make her feel better if she ate something.” Iris kindly responds that she doesn’t want any. Beatrix responds with “alright” and it ends the scene right there.

What do we know about Beatrix at this point? She has some kind relations to Alpha and possibly other elves. Her power likely similar or greater than Iris for the fact that she won the Bushin Festival before. What’s the most odd is her personality. I love these mysterious parts about a character where they clearly have an important role within the story. The fact that Iris has a strong interest with the mysterious character, Beatrix, makes the story still feel compelling enough to want to continue.

Cid’s Success as Mundane Mann

Once again, Cid is walking home excited about knocking out all of his bucket list accomplishments as Mundane Mann with only one battle left against Iris. In his excitement, he runs into a sarcastically smiling Claire again. Claire asks if Cid actually saw her fight. Suddenly, Cid’s delighted expression becomes.. you know the answer.

The episode ends with Rose looking into a broken mirror glass, looking at the sandwich wrapper that Cid gave her, saying, “please, grant me.” Given the ominous location of where Rose was with the destruction of her surroundings, Rose is gearing up to make some significant happenings.

The amount of times that Rose has been used as a cliffhanger must mean something even more epic than the previous episode should be coming.

Last Thoughts

Staying Fresh

Staying fresh by building upon newer and less developed characters is a must. The Eminence in Shadow is continually keeping the story fascinatingly compelling. Look at everything this episode featured, all newer characters or characters where their advancement in the story significantly matters for whatever reason. Claire has an important role as the violently lovable sibling, bringing out a different side to Cid. Annerose plays the cliche archetype of being humbled by someone stronger, seemingly befriending and gaining respect for Mundane Mann. Iris finds herself somehow wrapped up with a mysterious character in Beatrix. Add in the possibility of seeing her get defeated by Mundane Mann as something the audience would love to see play out. Beatrix, herself is a beautiful addition with some endearingly odd quirks. Sir Perv Asshat just built an extra layer of insightful intrigue to his character by displaying his “intelligence,” acting as the lead antagonist in this arc. Lastly, Rose’s payback and “eminence” path is being teased, as she still needs to prove to Shadow that she is going to fight back against the “bad guys.”

Keeping a Story Building Episode Still Entertaining

Many parts of this episode is all about building the foundation for a future climatic event where these characters will all likely find a significant role. Before the main course, there is always an appetizer. That appetizer is the compelling mystery of the plot and characters, which all had their fair share of exposure this episode. This episode is that momentum builder that will soon pay dividends as the mysterious nature of Iris, Perv Asshat and Beatrix’s involvement starts to unravel. Overall, this episode did a great job “setting the stage,” as we are all excitedly waiting to see how all of these moving parts start to create an epicly chaotic end.

This first season of The Eminence in Shadow is going down as one of the best animes of the past few years. This episode is another episode that represents one of the show’s best qualities of striking the right balance between the humor and story. I am still greatly looking forward to the next episode and that usually means this episode still got me hooked!


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