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Steven J. Mepham

Episode forty picks up right where thirty-nine ended and serves as the delivery of the promises made. In this case, the groundwork laid was never meant to last long, delving into the skills and aptitudes of Flayvus and Kanae while probing Jinsei’s greatest, albeit current weakness. This is a fast episode that feels a lot shorter than it really is, its focus driving us relentlessly onwards with some truly exceptional action sequences.

Episode Thirty-Eight Reaction

Looking back over this season and season one, it is easy to see how much Flayvus, Kanae and Jinsei have grown. They have faced quite a few challenges and have come out the other side a little stronger… at least on an emotional level. Season two has introduced us to some powerhouses in the form of Seven and General Pisca, however, we still don’t really know the full capabilities of our protagonists. We don’t know their strengths though we are aware of their fighting styles. Episode forty picks up on the path laid within episode thirty-nine. It asks simple but important questions and perhaps foreshadows something yet to come.

What is your fighting style?

what is your strength?

what is your weakness?

The answer to these questions will take more than a single episode to uncover, but Kristina is an expert in embedding the right information at the right time and now, is the time to begin to answer some of these. For anyone who has read some of my other reactions, you will know that I have attested to the complex emotional challenges that Jinsei has faced, if anything, we know the most about his strength and weaknesses, though these are mostly second hand from other characters speaking of him prior to his father’s death. But for Kanae and Flyvus, we know very little. Episode 40 is the wind that changes that.

Our first panel of the episode depicts Flayvus and Kanae deep in the jungle around Mapulehu. Marius is going over the parameters of their fight and confirms that the coins they will be using in their duel are non-lethal and because of this they require less power he implores them to handle them with care.

Is it me, or does Marius always smile when he is making subtle threats? Flayvus’ protests seem to go unanswered.

I really like the use of a gradient backdrop to draw us from the black panels from the start of the episode to a white in the image above. The image being cleft into opposing trapezoids is really impactful. At first glance, it gives the illusion that they are two halves of the same image. But upon close inspection, it is apparent that Kanae and Flayvus are not in the same location (as in not directly next to each other), but are equally taking it seriously. It’s interesting to note how collected and confident Flayvus looks, while Kanae has a focused but slightly nervous disposition. Not unsurprising given the line of work Flayvus used to be engaged in. Following up from the lessons in Spirit coins in the last episode, Fayvus is employing a gauntlet, while Kanae is opting for a glove which would indicate that on a pure talent level, Kanae is stronger then Flayvus (Ignoring the fact that Kanae has acquired Punavarsu – which would make this assertion a bygone conclusion.)

The Obnoxious Opponent

Marius has given Flayvus and Kanae an angle to approach the duel. For Flayvus it is to be the most obnoxious opponent ever!

A challenge he is very apt for. I really like how easily he is able to get under Kanae’s skin, but I’ll save that line of thought for later on. This panel’s primary focus may be to demonstrate how obnoxious Flayvus can be, but it also shows how quick and resourceful he is. Kanae is firing a bow at him, at close range and missing. Either her aim is terrible, which we know it is not, or Flayvus’ reaction speed is amazing. While the chibi Flayvus’s are comic effect. They also showcase how he manages to dodge Kanae: by jumping alone.

It comes as no surprise that an ex-thief – assassin would be given stealth coins to utilise. Flayvus’s is the speedy but stealthy attacker, able to move and attack swiftly, using surprise as a strength, he is the opposite to Jinsei whose speciality seems to be close-quartered defend and strike. Kanae, on the other hand, is a ranged attacker. The other thing to note about his panel is Marius’ confidence in Flayvus’ resourcefulness. This is something we have not seen a lot of, but I have a suspicion will play a key role in the future.

This sequence is really intriguing, for a long time I have assumed that Flayvus was there to help Kanae and to find the answer to what happened to Katsurou. Yet this would suggest he has an ulterior motive or perhaps the everything he desires is tied to Kanae and Jinsei, his friends. Either way, I have a suspicion that there are a few skeletons in Flayvus’ closet.

The Calm and Patient Opponent

The first time we encountered Kanae way back in season one, she was apoplectic over the belief that Jinsei had murdered Katsurou. The flaws in her thinking were evident the biggest indicator being that there was no corpse to be found. It isn’t something we consider an issue at the time, but looking back now, and knowing the series of events it strikes me as odd. With this in mind, it comes as no surprise that Marius charges Kanae to be calm and patient in her approach to the duel. Kanae despite outward appearances is hot-headed and filled with resentment.

Her battle style being ranged would mean that patience and remaining calm under pressure are pre-requisites. All things, that at times Kanae seems to struggle with. With this in mind, the obnoxious and resourceful nature of Flayvus’ fighting style is a perfect foil for Kanae. The opposite is also true, means that they are both the best and the worst opponent. A calm and patience Kanae could easily counter the obnoxious but resourceful style that Flayvus is employing. Equally, should Flayvus manage to fluster or anger Kanae, then he could easily run rings around her. In essence on a tactical basis, with what we know, both are balanced and can easily win or lose against the other depending on the circumstances and their own mental fortitude.

It makes sense why Kanae struggles against Flayus, despite seeming to be a more powerful user of coins. She may have raw talent, but Flayvus employs something she doesn’t, experience, resourcefulness and judgement. As the section continues we see her struggle to keep a calm focus. The heat and noise Flayvus is making serves to distract her. When She makes her move against him…

She does so without thinking, it is a reaction rather than the carefully planned and patient strike, Marius advised her to do. And so…

And so she falls into a resourceful trap by Flayvus which leaves her wide open to an assault she does not see coming.

…and so ultimately she fails this round. Its little segments like this that really show how much thought and consideration Kristina has given to the characters. if you had asked me at the end of season one which I would have thought would win in a duel. I would have ultimately chosen Kanae. Flayvus, as much as I appreciate his character, is often the centre of the comic relief, which distracts us from the fact that he is actually a skilful badass with a happy-go-lucky outlook.

Jinsei and the coins

The focus switches here to Jinsei and Seven, squaring off as we saw them at the end of Episode thirty-nine. This sequence really showcases Jinsei’s ability to analyse the situation and formulate a plan while on the move. He is at a clear disadvantage to seven, who not needing to activate a coin has a vast reserve of strength while Jinsei is forced to activate coin after coin in n attempt at finding something more durable. While doing so, he reasons not only what he needs to do, but Marius’ intent. Though heavily on the defensive, with defective coins, Jinsei manages to hold his own and defend against the relentless and punishing physical attacks that Seven throws at him.

I really like the image above, and how the lines show just how serious Seven is taking this duel and perhaps, just how strong Jinsei really is. Seven may have landed on that frying pan, but the force of that blow would have hurt no matter how much Jinsei Braces for it.

The juxtaposition of these images and the frying pan, show Jinsei’s tenacity and also a little of his prowess. Seven had barely managed to make a distance when Jinsei launched the frying pan at them. This isn’t a duel where the combatants are playing and I think that shows just how much they admire and respect each others strength.

If any image could aptly sum up Jinsei’s weakness it is this one. In spite of the desperate situation he is in when he finally finds a weapon that he can use, he drops it. It is a symptom of the massive scar gnawing away at his psyche. The scenes that follow show Jinsei’s father’s death again and the situation I think he still struggles to accept, let alone understand. Given that his heart is racing and his first reaction is to drop the sword. This is the thing that holds Jinsei back, the trauma, I think he needs to overcome. When compared to the weaknesses of Kanae and Flayvus, it is a mountain of an obstacle. As the sword hits the ground, Seven finally lands a clear shot to Jinsei’s stomach and sends him flying.

Seems like you found something useful. Now pick that up… and atually make this worthwhile for me.

Seven to Jinsei

The final panel of the episode really shows the emotional weight of Jinsei’s trauma. Unlike before where he was active and strategising, while deftly meeting and countering Seven’s attacks. Now his attention is focused on the blue sword repulsion written on his face. It leaves little room to doubt where Jinsei is, I have a feeling this is one hurdle he has to find a way through one way or another. Either way, it is a great end to a very fast-paced and action-packed episode.

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