What a hoot this thing was!

Kenzan’s a fun character to try and do an introspective spotlight special on, because he’s incapable of introspection. (He’s also not special? That’s so mean!) Kenzan gets frustrated at the barest hint of reflection or self-analysis, so an episode devoted to digging into his motivations and contradictions seems like a doomed endeavor. But this was the opposite of that? It was actually pretty great?

A lot of that comes from how Kenzan is passed around a few different characters, and how his own inner works are exposed through his thoughts on others. We get to see how differently Ren acts around Ogami (attentive, not super thrilled to hang around with some old guy); Kento (definitely doesn’t have a crush on him); and, perfectly, Desast (thinks of him as an obsessive fan). Ren can’t really interrogate himself, but through his deference, jealousy, dismissiveness, and boastfulness, we get the picture of a young man who clearly does not understand the stakes of this conflict. He’s someone who doesn’t know the genre of the story he’s in, and doesn’t know the arc that self-confident young men in this genre have to go through.

And then, we get the fight against Desast, which was delightful. It’s not the all-time banger their first one was, but I really love how Desast is, like, Lazy Momotaros here. (Or Momotaros At Home, if you prefer.) He just wants to fight, but he’s sort of conversational about it? He’s not leaping from out of frame when Ren least expects it; he’s just sort of hanging out and wondering if this is a good time to have another duel? It’s the best character choice in a show brimming over with compelling characters. I love Desast’s whole Wandering Swordsman thing, and how charmingly loopy his demeanor is. Put him on the Sword of Logos already!

Shorter episode this time, and a bunch of it was padded out with Episode 9 stuff, but I probably enjoyed this one more than the first special. Kenzan just works better as a solo character, because he’s so adamant about not having any emotional or intellectual depth. I don’t know why that stubborn insistence on not having any layers works here, but it sure as hell does.



NOTHING AGAINST YOU BORED SPECTRE



Shin-ichiro came to the park in the early afternoon most days to feed the swans. He didn’t care much for the noise of children, and even less for the distraction of teenagers, so he tried to choose a time when he might be the only one around. He was lucky; today looked to be just him and the impending swans from the nearby pond.

He’d seated himself comfortably on his favorite bench, set out his small bag of breadcrumbs, and waited patiently, contentedly. Just him and his thoughts for the next little while.

“Hey, you mind if I sit here for a minute?”

Shin-ichiro looked to his right, and to the man talking. He was dressed in some sort of costume. (A cosplayer? Had he heard that term correctly?) He looked like a cartoon devil, a mascot for a theme park of ill repute. Shin-ichiro wasn’t sure this was someone he’d want to interact with under normal circumstances, and certainly not when he was trying to relax.

“I’d really rather you didn’t. There are plenty of other benches, and plenty of other parks.” Shin-ichiro gestured to the benches across the park, to the park’s exit, and to any direction away from him.

“Thanks, man,” the cartoon devil said as he lazily sprawled himself out on the far end of Shin-inchiro’s favorite bench. “I’m looking for this kid I was gonna fight. You seen ‘im? Yay high,” the cartoon devil indicated a vague level of no discernable height, “and carrying a green sword? I swear I smelled him around somewhere.” With this bizarre, unhelpful description, the cartoon devil leaned forward, clearly expecting directions to his preferred destination.

“Uh, no,” Shin-ichiro volunteered. “I definitely haven’t seen anyone like that around. If you plan on fighting someone, I’d appreciate if you’d–”

The cartoon devil cut in. “Ah, hell, seriously? This kid’s impossible to find. Hey, you’re not a swordsman, are you? You and me could go a round or two, if you wanted. You’re only a few years older-looking than that Buster chump, I don’t think it’d be an unfair fight.”

That was it. Shin-ichiro was either being challenged to a duel, or possibly propositioned. Either way, he’d prefer to be far away from this costumed buffoon. He gathered up his bag and moved to leave.

“I’ll pass, thank you,” Shin-ichiro said curtly. He wasn’t entirely certain what he was declining, so it seemed safest to be vague. He rose to his feet. “Have a good day.”

“Aw, you’re goin’?” The voice came from behind Shin-ichiro as he headed for the park exit. “Okay. Hey, you see that runt with the sword, you send ‘im my way, okay? Help a guy out.”

“I certainly will,” Shin-ichiro lied as he walked briskly away from the cartoon devil.

“I owe ya one, gramps,” came the receding voice, followed distantly by the cartoon devil’s exclamation of “Hey, swans!”

The sound of Shin-ichiro crumpling his bag of breadcrumbs masked whatever noises followed.

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