Contains spoilers for Season one and Season 2 of Cape of Spirits. I highly recommend you read upto episode 31 to avoid spoilers. A spoiler limited review of Season one can be found here.
Cape of spirits has very quickly become one of my favorite webtoons. When we last left Jinsei, Flayvus, and Kanae they were captured and interred in an empire dungeon. Season 2 picks right up where we left off. As with the finale, it is accompanied by a piano theme written by Sophism. It is an impactful touch that perfectly evokes the overarching atmosphere of the episode, one that is reflective, calm and tinged with some hope.
We are shown Jinsei, alone in his cell seeming to be at peace, at least on the surface. There is something majestic about the dark tones, the detailed wall and the reserved way that Jinsei sits. A contradiction to the desperate fight that served as the climax for season one. It is interesting that the following pannels show Jinsei opening his eyes, only the wall of the dungeon is not there. The background is a bleed of pale red hues into a grey-blue, chequered by fragments of red. One could be forgiven for assuming these are stars. The juxtaposition between the colored panel and the word “…Sei.” is palpable. It is another of those expertly choreographed transitions that Kristina employed within season one.
The next panel is closer to Jinsei, and for the first time, we see his eyes are open. The expression on his face is unreadable. We are greeted by the full word this time. “Jinsei.” as we move on, we see yet another closeup of Jinsei’s eyes this time they are focused on something. Pure determination seems to reflect in his pale eyes and then finally we are shown the panel that explains more than any words could. Jinsei sits in an empty void of blue. The stars are revealed to be what I assume is fragmented power and floating before him. Katsurou.
It is a beautifully constructed opening – crafted with the same care and expertise as season one – and it has me enthralled in the narrative once more. Moving on, for the first time we see some discernable emotion from Jinsei, his face radiates disappointment and displeasure. We are shown a frontal view of Katsurou and for the first time, I can appreciate his design. It is a far cry from the human snatches we saw in season one. No, in Season 2 we can see and appreciate his form in spirit. There is much that remains a mystery about him. He has a kind face, one that clearly is concerned for Jinsei. Questions are the name of this game. What is Katsurou? Is he a human? Is he a spirit? I remember in season one when we finally saw the moment he became the spirit coin, the look on his face was shock. So I think, for now, I will assume he is human. There is yet another mystery though. One we are yet to uncover. Exactly what are these coins?
Do you understand the countless lives that have been sacrificed?… For the sake of what?!… Coins?Katsurou, Human, Season one episode 30.
It is easy to take this at meaning sacrificing human lives seeking the coins. But I wonder, is it really simply that the coins are made from humans? It would certainly explain Katsurou’s seeming transformation. Regardless of what he is though, kindness radiates from his eyes. He seems to know Jinsei better than Jinsei knows himself. Moreover, some of the ways Jinsei has changed is highlighted by Katsurou himself.
Now you’ve chosen to show yourself?Jinesei to Katsurou
I’ve been here the whole time…. It seems a “door” has been shut between us in the spirit world. You need to open it and find me, Jinsei. We need to form a real contract…. So we can protect our friends.Katsurou to Jinsei.
The striking thing about this scene is the poses that Jinsei and Katsuro are in. They sit back to back, talking to each other over their shoulders. A pose that is often used to evoke trust. It is symbolic of their relationship, though strained it had seemed moments ago. It seems that Jinsei has chosen to trust Katsurou. I think that there is more to their friendship than meets the eye, despite the conflict that seemed to be revealed between them in season one.
Tell me … what do you think is right then?Jinsei to Katsurou
Katsurou’s answer to Jinsei’s question is interesting for two reasons. First, it comes after proclaiming that Flayvus and Kanae are Jinsei’s friends. Second, it reaffirms the revelation from season one. It evokes a mystery that is slowly being crafted. The question: What is truly going on in the Empire? We don’t need to know at this point. We can take our time to learn the truth. For now, it is more important to learn who our protagonists really are.
That you are still the true heir…. to the new world.Katsurou’s Answer
The answer is as curious as it is loaded. What exactly is the new world? Is this perhaps a reason why Kanae is referred to as an “old Worldian?” (in season one) What does that even mean? So many questions and it is still only a few steps into the episode.
The scene cuts swiftly back to the cell and Jinsei awakes. The cell door opens and one of the other characters I find curious enters. Saz. The general from the empire who fought and overwhelmed Jinsei in the early stages of season 1, only to let him walk away. There is something about his face that radiates disappointment. He does not seem capricious. He seems to be kind. Though he is scathing in his retorts to Jinsei it seems there is more to this relationship than General to traitor.
The second we found out you betrayed us… betrayed the emperor…. was the second you stopped being Jinsei to me.Saz
There is hurt to this exchange. Though this is the general of the empire who seems to be an enemy. His words feel calm and constructed. That he cannot see Jinsei as Jinsei anymore. That he is shutting him out and turning him mentally to something out speaks volumes. I think that they must have been close in the past, close and then we get a metaphorical punch to the gut.
I once thought… I’d fight to defend the Empire under your leadership. That i’d be your Cheif General…and that I’d be proud to call you my Emporer. … Now that thought disgusts me.Saz to Jinei
This is delivered with a series of closeups, and the final line is delivered juxtaposed against a side panel we see the narrowing of his eyes, a slight frown, and a distasteful grimace. He does not know the revelation that we do. He does not know what was happening to the Emperor at the end of season one. What we have yet to uncover the truth of.
You would’ve made a great one…Doesn’t matter anymore. Anyways… are the others here? My… the ones who were with me?Jinsei to Saz
The look of confusion on Saz’s face is interesting. He is clearly taken aback by Jinsei. The softening of his character and the concern he is showing. It is tempered by a rage-filled tirade. The feelings that Saz seems to have buried are blurted out and he is stopped only by the intervention of the empress herself.
The ending of the episode is abrupt. It leaves many layers of questions. Most of which revolve around different mysteries that feel intertwined. The episode dwells on Jinsei. Who he is? What does he want? What matters to him. The Juxtaposition of his interaction with Katsurou and Saz is palpable. It seems these friends both represent a path that Jinsei could have taken to the same destination. Through Saz it is a path that is now closed him. The path of being an heir to the Empire. Somehow I think this path would have come at a price. Jinsei would have been oblivious to the things that are about to unfurl. He would have grown cold and depraved, living up to the example his father gave. Katsurou represents the other path. One where friendship and bonds matter more than status. The trust between them is profound. Katsurou not only trusts Jinsei but wants to grant him his power, to trust him with his strength. Though both seem to or have at some point cared for Jinsei. Their positions are interesting, to say the least. I do not, believe Saz is truly an enemy of Jinsei, though the trust and friendship have been lost. It seems Saz is trying to work out how he feels about Jinsei and matched with his actions from season one, I cannot help but feel somehow, eventually, he will be an ally of Jinsei in the days to come but that loyalty and trust will be something that Jinsei must earn once more. Jinsei seems content to accept Saz’s ire, even seems to regret the situation, Curiously, he offers no defense to Saz’ condemnation nor does he try to reveal what he knows and that is another mystery: why? Though we know little of the Empires’ political structure, logically, while he did commit regicide, we have yet to know exactly why and regardless of the circumstances he was the heir. So the question begets, why did he run away?
Overall this is an exceptional premiere episode. It contains enough action, enough revelation and enough mystery to hook us into wanting more. It poses many hooks and provides very little in the way of answers. However, what it does do is inspect and explore Jinsei’s character and his interactions with those who seem to have cared for him. Against the flagrant arrogance that Jinsei seemed to have prior to the events season one, we are given a stark reminder of Kanae’s judgment of him while being tested in episode 22: “That’s not the real Jinsei, at least…. not anymore.” The focus on Jinsei’s character is important because he is beginning to change and where that change leads us is yet to be discovered. But if there is one thing I can most certainly say is that all the characters we have discovered are beautifully flawed and diverse something that can only be a boon for the series as a whole.
All ‘Cape of Spirits’ related images and characters contained within this post are created, copyrighted and owned by Kristina Nguyen.