And here I thought that all I’d want to talk about was Touma’s outfit!

(It’s insane. It’s a black blouse with white dots, and it’s got front and back capes? I don’t understand how it works at all, and it’s either a new low point for men’s fashion, or a new high point for Touma’s fashion. I literally could not stop thinking about it through this episode.)

This one’s got a lot of ground to cover, and I honestly think it covers that ground magnificently. I didn’t emotionally key into the ending of this episode, and I think its big reveal is pretty well telegraphed at least three episodes earlier (if not seven or eight), but the way the episode leads you through the unification of its main heroes – only to shatter that with what’s sort of basically good news – made for a thrilling episode.

It’s maybe faint praise? I’m sort of saying this episode succeeded for me by cleanly laying out things like the heroes’ motivations, the villain’s goal, the heroes’ strategy, and the stakes of the battle. I was never at a loss for why anyone was doing anything, or how they were doing it. Creating an actual effective strategy based on observation and deduction? Drawn from stuff we’ve actually seen before on the show? Be still my heart!

That’s not to say that the emotional component isn’t here as well, it’s just… I don’t know, I found it sweet, but it sort of lost me at the end. I really enjoyed how much Touma and Rintaro are willing to highlight Kento’s moodiness and evasiveness, especially as they use it to offer up their support. Kento’s story to this point is that if anyone learned his horrible secret, they’d never be his friends again. And that’s honestly a fair thing for him to think, since he’s mostly been surrounded by Teammates and Co-Workers thus far. With Touma (and, to a lesser extent, Rintaro), he’s actually got someone to support him outside the structure of the Sword of Logos. He’s got a friend who will shoulder some of that emotional burden, and he never thought to ask for that. Touma’s method of looping their stories in together gives Kento the resolve to challenge Calibur, and win.

But then we get Kento finding out that Calibur (get ready for my shocked face) isn’t Kento’s dad, but Daichi, the previous Saber. This would normally be a good thing – Kento’s dad isn’t Calibur, the big enemy everyone’s trying to defeat! – but Daichi immediately goes Oh No Your Dad Totally Betrayed Everyone, so it’s a bit of a wash. (It also leads Kento to think Daichi maybe killed his dad, so we’ll see how bad this gets!) Added to that big reveal is the further dissipation of Touma’s Narratively Convenient Amnesia, as he finally puts together that the boy from his Two Guys, A Girl, And A Trauma Place memory is Kento, which is not at all new information for the audience. This is where I kind of lost my enthusiasm for this episode.

The Touma reveal is triply bad storytelling. First, and worst, it’s information the viewer has had for a while. Making the climax of your episode the hero learning information that is old news? Not great! Secondly, it’s Touma learning it at the least manageable time to do so, which is why Touma punting on interrogating Kento a few episodes back was such a groan-worthy move. The hero piecing together his past when it’s most problematic for the team is just such a stupid cliche. It’s lazy storytelling, and I’d hoped this show would be smarter than this. Finally, Touma’s furious at Kento for keeping this from him, which is exactly the opposite of his promise a few episodes ago, in spirit if not by the letter. The whole point of that scene was that whatever Kento was hiding from Touma was okay, because Touma wanted Kento to reveal it when he was ready. Now, it’s Touma going all WHY HAVE YOU BETRAYED ME, and it’s such a disappointing own goal that I can’t really care about the emotional distance between these best friends. It’s all cheap drama, and I dislike it immensely.

Other than, uh, that, I thought this was one of the tightest, best-structured episodes yet. Precise in its movements and economical in its developments, I thought this was the smoothest of smooth sailing.

I just wish it was in service of a better ending!



(I’LL CLEAN UP) THE MESS THAT YOU ARE



Jun knocked on the door that led out to the roof. After a few seconds of silence, he opened the door slightly, and stuck his head out.

“Hi! Uh, this is Jun, from building maintenance? You mind if I come out?”

A voice answered back: “Sure.” It was subdued, a capitulation rather than an invitation.

Jun stepped out onto the roof, and walked towards where he’d heard the voice. He stepped around benches, and around inflatable globes, and around what looked to be a cardboard picture of a riverboat. He approached the young man he’d been sent to speak with.

“Hey, thanks for letting me up here,” Jun said. “You’re Kento, right?”

“That’s me,” Kento said with disappointment, eyes locked on the horizon.

“Sorry to bug you, it’s just… me and the rest of the guys were wondering if we were good to break some of this stuff down? It’s getting a little late in the day, and we’re hearing there might be rain tonight, so…”

Kento stared off into the distance throughout Jun’s meteorological trepidation and managerial concerns (assistant managerial concerns, technically), and only turned to face Jun when the last syllables of Jun’s open-ended statement finally trailed off into silence.

“Hmm?” Kento looked up at Jun with a strange expression. Jun couldn’t really put a name to it, but he was leaning towards Emotionally Defenestrated.

“I was just saying, if you were done… uh, y’know, brooding and the like – your schedule not ours, but we…” Jun tried trailing off again, to see if the awkwardness might trigger some basic politeness from the tall swordsman.

It did not.

“Yeah, I don’t know,” Kento finally replied. “Today’s been a weird day. I don’t know if I’m ready to leave yet.”

Jun thought he’d try a different tactic. “Weird how?”

“I don’t know if you’d care,” Kento said deprecatingly.

“Try me,” Jun offered.

“Well,” Kento began with a sigh, “I’ve been in this swordsman guild, the Sword of Logos.”

“Uh huh,” Jun said as he began stacking chairs up quietly behind Kento.”

“And we’ve been fighting this guy Calibur for the last fifteen years. I mean, he’s a monster: betrayed the guild, murdered teammates, has been trying to bring about the apocalypse for months.”

“Wow, that’s rough,” Jun said as he gathered up empty soda cans and dumped them softly into a garbage bin.

“That’s not even the worst of it! This Calibur, he was my dad.”

“Families are tough, man, I get it. My mom got big into yoga recently, and won’t stop bugging me to go with.” Jun’s response was good cover for the sound of benches being dragged into the shed near the air conditioning units. He didn’t think Kento heard anything, based on the swordsman’s intense focus on the setting sun. Boy, this guy could brood.

“Well, twist, it turns out that Calibur isn’t my dad, he’s a guy that I thought my dad killed? But maybe this guy killed my dad? Oh, and HA HA HA,” Kento said sarcastically, “doesn’t even clear my dad’s name, since he definitely betrayed the organization I’ve dedicated my life to serving.”

“Woof,” Jun said, both in commiseration, and in relief after breaking down the last of the stage.

“I know! And it gets worse: my best friend found out that I’ve been lying to him about my dad, as well as about this girl from childhood that we were friends with and disappeared into a portal.” Kento sagged as he sat on the crate, the last remaining piece of exposed furniture on the roof.

Jun walked around to face Kento, and offered his hand to the seated man.

“C’mon, man, I want to show you something,” Jun said kindly.

Jun led Kento to the edge of the roof, and gestured to the town below. “You see all that?”

Kento looked down at the buildings, houses, cars, bicyclists, dogs… a bustling town, near the end of the day. As he took in the landscape, Jun quickly but quietly gathered up the crate, and stashed it in the shed. After a few moments, Kento said, “I do, yeah.”

“Well,” Jun said, “that’s the answer to your problems. You get me?” Jun had absolutely no idea what that meant. He’d exhausted himself cleaning the roof off behind Kento’s back, and hoped this would come off profound enough to finish the job.

Kento’s face brightened. Holy shit, it was working.

“I do, actually. Wow. I get it. Thanks, Jun, I really appreciate you. That’s amazing advice. I’m gonna take you up on it,” Kento said as he shook Jun’s hand. “I’m going to get started right this second. You can clean up now, if you want.”

Jun watched Kento walk briskly to the stairwell door and leave. “Yeah, I’ll get right on that,” he said to himself and the empty roof.
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