New Anime

Sengoku Youko – 08

Not for the first time, it strikes me that so damn much happens in this series.  We’re not even a quarter of the way through, and many of the main cast have not even bowed (though we are getting about one big dog per week lately).  And on reflection this is a recurring theme with Mizukami Satoshi.  He gets a tremendous amount of content into a series – plot, philosophical debate, character arcs – without them seeming rushed or too busy.  Spirit Circle is perhaps the best example in all manga – not a panel is wasted – but it was true even in the anime-original Planet With.  It’s just one of his (many) gifts.

That, in roundabout fashion, brings us to Shinsuke.  He’s not even the protagonist or main character – it’s true that Sengoku Youko doesn’t have one, per se, but he’s not even first among equals – but he’s got one big-ass arc.  In the light novel age of anime many viewers are conditioned to expect characters to hatch fully formed in the first episode – there’s not much patience for development.  But that’s not how Mizukami works, and Shinsuke isn’t as simple as any one element of his character so far revealed.  He’s got a lot going on, he changes, and as a human (rather than a katawara or Kami) he has to change in a lot in a relatively short span of years.  Never a dull moment.

The elder at the rockman village tells the heroes’ party that Shakugan isn’t dead, but in a very deep sleep – albeit one from which they might theoretically never wake.  But that doesn’t do much to brighten Shinsuke’s mood.  “Seething” would describe it well, and he’s talking to his demon sword more than ever.  And now Arabuki (Koyama Tsuyoshi) is talking back.  It’s not made entirely clear how much of this conversation is a direct product off Shinsuke’s subconscious, but it certainly seems real to him.  The trio have stopped at a village whose guardian, Kagomori (Matsuda Kenichirou – this series is getting a lot of excellent actors for smaller roles) has told them to stay on the far side of the river because of Shinsuke’s dark spirit energy

Turns out that the villagers are paying for Kagomori’s services – a human sacrifice every four years.  They seem to consider this a good bargain (unless you’re the villager being sacrificed) – even Tama calls it a fair deal – but Shinsuke is in no mood to let that lie.  He’s so pissed that her illusions don’t even faze him, and he sets off to dispense some vigilante justice whether the villagers want it or not.  He calls out Kagomori in the forest outside town, but before he can even engage the katawara Resshin shows up and runs Kagomori through (he’s a very stabby sort of guy to be sure).

Confronted with the object of all his rage, Shakugan’s killer, Shinsuke seems about to draw Arabuki – but he draws his non-magical sword instead.  Rage can only get you so far and he’s no match for Resshin, modified human that he is.  It seems as if there’s no choice but to turn himself over to Arabuki now – so the inner voice is telling him anyway – but in the end Shinsuke refuses to surrender himself to the blade and clearly catches Resshin off-guard.  Cutting off an arm is only a temporary upper hand (pun intended) but a very satisfying uppercut has more staying power.  As if that weren’t enough, with his dying breath Kagomori staggers to his feet and puts the Dangaisyuu down for a ten-count.

That’s enough for Yazen, who appears in shikigami form and orders Resshin to stand down and return to base.  This is not over, and if that weren’t clear enough the mortal enemies exchange their real names – Shinsuke is Takekichi (a farmer’s name) and Resshin is Barry Zalmoa (perhaps explaining his love of English).  In any event the trio can’t stick around – Kagomori is dead and the villagers will blame Shinsuke for it (and indirectly, they’d be right).  Tama insists on knowing just what Shinsuke is looking for at this point in their journey – do their paths still overlap, or not?  You have to feel for Tama – she has to be the one to keep a clear hear and do all the thinking.

There’s a lot to unpack here, but one thing is clear from Shinsuke’s reaction to all this – for him “strong” and “free” are interchangeable concepts.  Strength means freedom, and weakness death – a sort of freedom in itself, but not the freedom that seems to be Shinsuke’s true objective.  It’s a simplistic way of looking at the world to be sure, a world that will surely put that view to the test.  For the moment, Shinsuke remains with the siblings as they do share an overarching goal – and that goal takes them into the path of two tengu guarding a pass between cliffs.  Almost immediately their boss shows up – a pretty horned lady (Takagaki Ayahi) who introduces herself as an ally against the Dangaisyuu and invites them to follow her.

This lady is clearly powerful to have giant tengu at her beck and call, Tama is sure of that.  She declares that she’s a Mountain God, and that the dragon man is hot on their tails but that she’ll take them somewhere he can’t reach.  Yama no Kami seems untroubled by Jinka’s concern over the safety of her tengu when Jinun arrives, and indeed Jinun doesn’t lay a finger on them when they refuse him passage.  However Senya sets his knapsack down and makes short work of the pair of them – it certainly wasn’t anything you could even call a fight.  Meanwhile the Goddess and trio (she’s noted that Jinka has “fairy eyes”) settle down for what seems likely to be a very substantive conversation…

The post Sengoku Youko – 08 appeared first on Lost in Anime.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.