Remember, if they don’t stop coming, save the last bullet.
It’s been a long time since we were graced with something truly awful. I mean, offensive to your senses. Sure, Black Bullet, Brynhildr, Space Dandy even, they have weak moments, and we poke fun at those moments. But this is off the edge of the map. If you told me that Gonzo’s plan for this series was now to generate so much interest because of how truly awful it was, I would believe that more than the idea that a bunch of “professionals” could screw something up so royally.
We have officially entered the So Bad It’s Good territory. And the glory is, we aren’t even treated to a healthy sense of self-awareness on this point. Whether or not it’s intentional, it is so. Fucking. Funny. that the show still feels like it’s genuinely trying to be the badass kid on the block.
We open on a young woman in bed with a snoring old man. She has…well…ladies we all regret fucking at least one person, don’t we? Yeah.
She gets up in the middle of the night, and we see Alka murdering the guards surrounding the mansion our mystery girl is inside. She even makes eye contact with Alka at the last killing…but luckily for her, the mansion’s mistress isn’t on the list of targets, I guess. But you do get the sense there is some sense of…I dunno, awe, destiny, between the pair.
Will Alka save her from this life?
Oh, you poor, poor bastard. You don’t even know, do you? I hope you’ve been saving your tears. Not for the story, for the studio.
At daybreak we see an interesting sight. We’re in an arid (arguably, desert) canyon, with fields of BLUE surrounding a tiny town. Yes, Heaven’s Spirits again. DRUGS FOR ALL!
Cutting inside the, what I now assume to be the mayoral palace, we see the old guy and his mistress entertaining Alka and a dandy dressed man. Really, he looks like a pirate in this over the top getup. The old man, who it turns out is the mayor, accuses the pair of killing all his guards. And they don’t even deny it. They just openly say “LET THAT BE A WARNING!” like they just captured his pawns or something. The reason is the Heaven’s spirits. Dandy Pirate wants them to stop farming them. The mayor refuses. It’s the village’s lifeblood, and how most of their inhabitants make a living. Mayor slaps Pirate down, saying he’d gladly stop farming Heaven’s Spirits…if the pirate will kindly point them in the direction of a new industry they can all make a living off of. Pirate answers he will, because it’s justice.
It’s like watching two people hold different conversations on their phones. They aren’t rebutting each other’s stance at this point than just throwing cliche debate talking points at the script.
We get a bit of a montage of the villagers, just to see that it’s true, they are willingly doing the work. They aren’t thinking too hard about what happens to these when they ship them off, but they have families to take care of and will make the best of it.
Pirate and Alka are having a discussion outside the town limits. Rather, Pirate is monologuing at Alka and she occasionally has a flashback but remains silent. He lays out that it’s the drug dealers screwing up the world. Finally, his speech about how it’s terrible and the world must be set right draws a question from Alka. “Why you?” He answers that it’s because he’s seen the truth, and knows it’s just.
…Oh, you were expecting a flashback or something? No. No no no. We can’t do that. That might make a male sympathetic. That’s right, we will never find out why THIS is his cause, only that “it’s right”.
To his credit, these fields are not extensive. One torch could destroy this entire crop in about an hour. Yet he doesn’t do it, he wants to CONVINCE these people to let it go. …Convince them at sword point, and murder, but not by burning the drugs themselves. So I’m chalking this up to his just being an idiot.
Who should arrive now, but Karen. She apparently owns this town.
All the stuff I said back in Episode 2 about how Karen seemed to have dynamic layers to her backstory? Burn it. Burn all of it, now she’s just a mob boss. At this point? Yeah that’s her function, and I find myself caring less about what she wants.
Karen recognizes the description of the attacks, and after exhuming the bodies, checks them. She knows exactly who killed these people already. At this point she refuses to send more soldiers, because they’d be wasted. They’ll have to resolve this conflict some other way. The only interesting scene is Karen’s talk with the mistress, who Karen says doesn’t seem like the type fit for “her kind of work” if you know what we mean. She said she wanted a job, and this way she gets a hot meal, so don’t worry about her, all with the saddest puppy dog eyes ever. Karen says she has no doubt the mistress will grow stronger. Stronger? To not put up with it anymore?
You poor, poor bastards. You don’t even know.
Pirate and Alka approach the mistress, assuming her the “weak link” in their resolve. But she shoots back with the normal stuff she’s been saying. She has food to eat and a bed to sleep in, so she can’t rock the boat. Pirate shoots back that living against her conscience that way is just existing, not living. She smiles at his concern, and this is probably the first time someone has looked at her and thought about what SHE wants in years. He offers to at least take her away from the village and save her from her life.
But, she says, try to leave the villagers out of it. There was apparently a famine, and in desperation, they turned to Karen for help. So they grow her drugs and they get to live in stability. Pirate shoots back that just because THEIR lives are easier doesn’t counter the harm they cause in other lives, that going along with the status quo because it suits YOUR life just fine is selfish.
At this point you might be saying, “Anna, are you sure this is so bad? Seems like a fairly typical, if not exactly sophisticated, examination of complex social issues.”
Just hold onto that rage in your heart.
It’s time for the showdown. Karen, Alka, the mayor, his mistress, and Pirate Boy. Pirate boy has a torch, he’s going to burn the fields. FINALLY, shouldn’t that have been your first answer once negotiation failed? Seems like material destruction should be a first priority before murder.
I hope you’re holding your breath, folks. We’re about to dive into the biggest steaming pile you’ve ever laid eyes on.
When Karen arrives, she effortlessly disarms Pirate of his torch. Deprived of his means to burn the fields, he opts for plan B. Killing them all with a knife! That’s basically the same thing, right? That’s justice.
This is the point where the Aesop breaks down. The “big reveal” is that our well-intentioned dandy ends up being, dramatic sting, a villain! His eyes even go Yagami Light crazy.
Actually, let’s do this. Right now. Let’s draw out Light and compare him to Blade and Soul. Is that fair? Nope!
Light made a good villain, and a “lawful good” at that because we understood where he came from. His father was a cop, he himself was planning on following in those footsteps, he had a firm connection to justice. His keen intellect was the weapon he was going to use to make sure justice was served. His unique skills and insight were what he was going to use. An unfair edge, for the criminals, and his dedication to see that the bad guys got punished led him down his path. Then he accquires the Death Note, and an -easier- mechanism falls into his lap. He will attack now more directly. As L says, it isn’t Kira who is evil, it is the Death Note, the weapon that GIVES him the ability to handle his enemies at his whim. We see this in Light and understand why he does what he does. He, at first, just pursues the Death Note as a fantasy. When does he embrace it? The second test. Seeing those jackasses chasing after that woman and outright planning to rape her. They deserve to die. And anyone WORSE than those people? Who would care about their fates?
We don’t see this in Blade and Soul. We should be seeing here a tragic villain. Someone whose family was taken by drug dealers, or worked as a doctor somewhere and saw the effects. Or, as I think we’re supposed to take away, this is the foundation of the blue crystals that the Param use to superjuice their soldiers. Did he survive such a massacre?
We need to see where this man gets his strong sense of justice. We need to see in him, and by extension perhaps in ourselves, where our blind emotions cloud our judgment from seeing complex issues from all sides. That we could intentionally be hurting others in our quest for justice.
But why go through all that trouble when he can just be a street crazy, Amirite?
Oh you think we’re DONE with this shit?
The mistress jumps dandy before he can attack the mayor, saying he can’t do evil acts in the service of justice. And the way she screams this is SO over the top, Brian Blessed would blush.
Dandy gets quiet at this. He says that he knows that the mayor makes her do WHATEVER HE WANTS (we saw them sleeping together) and that at the least, that cannot continue. He has to save HER!
Well, Malna (I’ll use her name finally) says “No, the mayor SAVED ME. He gave me a life. I OWE HIM.” Dandy says she shouldn’t HAVE to owe him anything. Karen then laments that Alka keeps finding the worst men.
…I choose my words with the deepest of consideration for the myriad of issues involved here….The. Fuck. Show?
This woman is this fat slob’s sex slave. Let’s not mince our words at this point. The gauntlet is down, I’m going full barrels. And we are supposed to come down on the side of the rapist?
Hmm, what other things could we compare this to? The idea that someone in a clearly subservient position to an authority figure doesn’t have the right to complain because they owe their betters for the food, clothing, and shelter they’re given…hmmm…
Fuck, this sounds so familiar.
Right! We just came off the double team of Don Sterling and Clive Bundy. Who said the same things about Black people. Which slave-owners also used to say about them.
Few works of art can be classified as doing a disservice to the human race by their existence. But this episode is one of them.
I am astonished that not one person thought this was a bad idea. This isn’t even an issue of rape fantasy, you know, how she’s all reluctant “no no” but then comes to like it? No! She is clearly disgusted with herself, borderline suicidal, for what this asshole makes her do.
AND THAT’S A GOOD THING?
Fuck this show. Fuck anime in general. You know what, fuck you, Japan. Fuck you. Fuck your mom, fuck your dad.
You might say I’m being unfair. One anime episode does not reflect an entire society. And no, you’re absolutely right.
But I also cannot shake the sense that the message here is towards the frequent problem in that nation of people adhering to the status quo no matter how horrifying it is. That “stasis” is preferable and those young assholes who keep saying “shit needs to change” are belligerent upstarts who don’t understand how wonderful the world is. Look, I don’t generally care, Japan does or doesn’t have to apologize for the Rape of Nanking at their leisure, whatever they feel is best. But at the same time, they don’t get a vote when it comes to people arguing the morality of the same, you understand?
All of the worst cultural aspects of Humanity are on display here. And our narrator is unreliable, I’m sorry. Blade and Soul congratulates itself so hard on this shit, it MUST be a deliberate choice. I am being trolled, and trolled very hard. That is the only conclusion I can take away from this.
*Sighs* Fine, let’s finish this crap. Dandy launches at the mayor, but…Malna saves her rapist.
Pfftss…fbndhe….FUCK, can you go TEN SECONDS without pissing me off? Ugh, if I want to be generous, Malna perhaps didn’t want any deaths on her behalf, so she took the hit. But god damn, guys.
And as she lays there dying, naturally this is the time for everyone to walk away like they didn’t even see.
Well Dandy goes on a rant, talking about how “they” killed her, just to show how far off the bend his choo-choo’s gone. This shit finally gets put to rest when Karen stabs him in the chest. Thank. Fucking. God.
In what is an elevating moment, I know, elevating from Satan’s asshole is a big climb, only the rapist seems concerned to save Malna, his voice quiet, that of a man who didn’t realize how deep into shit he was dragging an innocent girl. His tone conveys that of a man with power who hadn’t even considered how his casual use of it hurt those beneath him, a good metaphor for the Heaven’s Spirit issue itself. And the only one he can ask to save her, is Alka, even though Malna’s clearly dead. Yeah, sorry, Alka casually destroys lives, not fixes them.
Just…fuck. I have used that word a lot today. But fuck. This show is shit. I am shit for watching it. You are shit for watching it. We are all shit for laughing. I have probably said a lot of things in anger here….but if you can watch this episode and NOT get angry, you are some sort of weird mutant.
I could keep going, but we’re 2400 words in. Feel free to continue the discussion about morals and women’s rights and all that good shit. I’ll get to it when I can.