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Sengoku Youko – 10

I have to stop and remind myself sometimes just what a historic occasion this adaptation is.  All these years without a decent adaptation for one of the greatest mangaka of his generation (most of those without an adaptation, period).  Finally having one is a really big deal, even if most modern anime fans outside Japan don’t know what to make of it.  Because of the distinctly Gainax-y flourishes here, I couldn’t help be put in mind of the near-miss Biscuit Hammer adaptation, derailed by the greed of The Pillows’ record label.

I also can’t help but be impressed by the ingenious way Mizukami-sensei plants seeds for the future, though having experience with the source material is a cheat code for that.  He has a habit of sneaking the really important stuff in just when a lot of much more obviously important stuff is happening – but I suppose it’s better if we don’t dwell on that topic.  And there’s plenty else to dwell on here, as the biggest dogs the series has unleashed so far take to the field.  There’s strong and there’s strong, and the former shouldn’t be mistaken for the latter.

First off is Shinsuke again put to the test, and again passing.  And again giving himself no credit for it.  Thanks to Yama no Kami’s intervention he has Senya at his mercy, and could easily kill him.  She points out that Senya could certainly kill him easily if allowed to his feet.  And that Senya is potentially stronger even than Jinun, with a thousand demons inside him – a potential king of monsters.  But that, if it’s intended as persuasion, fails miserably.  All it does is leave Shinsuke, who hates the abuse of the weak more than anything, incensed that someone would do that to a child.  Which, to be sure, is what Senya is, no matter what else he is.  Shinsuke stands down fully expecting to be killed on the spot, but Senya reveals his true colors here too.

Meanwhile, Tama has seemingly come through her training too.  But she reveals that it’s taken her ten years to do so, even if it feels like a fraction of that to the others.  The Goddess announces that with everyone leveled up. she’s going to trap Jinun on the mountain and the rest of them are going to march on the Dangaisyuu temple, with the odds being stacked in their favor.  But Tama insists otherwise.  This, she reasons, is the best chance they’ll ever have to take down Jinun.  And once the trio are alone, she says she has a plan to do it.

Fox youkai aren’t renowned for their cleverness for nothing, and Tama is always the one thinking around corners.  She’s a gambler, to be sure.  Her bet is that the three of them must be of some value to Yama no Kami, or she wouldn’t have bothered taking them in and training them.  Therefore she isn’t going to let the Dragon destroy them, not in a place where she has the power to prevent it.  Tama is really banking their lives on the whims of a God here – though perhaps there’s just the merest chance that’s not the case.  The Goddess’ argument to Jinka is that even if he would only win one in ten thousand battles with Jinun, if that’s the first one the fates fall to, that’s all he needs.

Jinka certainly has leveled up, as witness that he now manifests five tails (for the five elements, metal being the fifth) after spiritual transformation.  And a good thing too, as Senya is deployed to keep Tama and Shinsuke from entering the fray (which had been part of Tama’s plan).  There seems to be a sort of exponential effect with both Tama and Jinka having increased their spiritual power under the Goddess’ training, since his combat form is a sort of hybrid of the two of them.  And he manages to dodge the Dragon’s first attack, and draw him onto ground too weak for him to unleash his full power.  Guided by that one in ten-thousand fate, or perhaps by something else.

Jinun is impressed by Jinka’s growth, and even wistful that such a powerful fighter should be snuffed out so young.  But he’s also more determined than ever not to let this threat grow any stronger.  Eventually both combatants are forced to unleash their final attacks, which results in the loss of an arm for both of them.  The looming presence of his impending demise causes Jinka to power up even more, but at this point the host steps in before these two kaijuu can do any more damage to her mountain.  Jinun is unwilling to stand down even in the presence of spiritual power dwarfing even his – “an arrow once unleashed cannot be recalled”.  Yama no Kami responds by sealing him, prompting Senya to go to his aid and revealing the true relationship between them.  She then seals him too, with an aside about their hair color.

And so, in the end, Tama has won – she drew the Mountain Goddess into their fight.  But the help of a Kami doesn’t come cheap, much less free – even if she’s willing to defer payment until matters with the Dangaisyuu are settled.  She can’t accompany them of course but Rinzu can.  Each of the trio is battered in some way – Jinka is unconscious even after Yama no Kami’s treatment, Tama is aware of the implications of the Goddess’ words, and Shinsuke once more reflects on his inability to influence the battle, unable to see beyond the obvious ways of doing so and more certain than ever of his own weakness.

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