I’ve spoken about the almost peerless ability of Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge to juxtapose the beautiful and the terrible to great effect. Darkness and light, tenderness and depravity always seem to co-exist in a tenuous balance in the universe it’s created, the presence of each making the other that much more powerful to perceive. But this episode is almost wholly given over to the dark side of the emotional spectrum, and it’s quite a jarring experience.
Things end up going in a quite different direction than might have been expected given where last week’s episode left off. The first sense is that awkward feeling of being the center of attention, with all eyes turned in your direction. Of course the Hair Queen and her “Little Knight” are known to all in the ballroom, filled with Gossip’s invited guests. While in the larger sense Gossip is still mostly an unknown quantity, there’s an overwhelming sense that these are not good people. It’s almost as if Iwai and Kiri are being violated as the nobs stare at them, whispering (and not even having the decency to whisper) their crass and shallow judgments. To be called “adorable” by people such as these is no compliment for Iwai; it’s palpably condescending.
Judgment is definitely the theme of the episode, although this is really only the hors d’ouvre. Who the hell are these shallow, wicked souls – most of whom are presumably mired in their own cycle of co-dependent dysfunction or motivated by sheer greed – to pass judgment on anyone? In a world peopled by such as these the relationship between Iwai and Kiri seems that much more an outlier, something pure and driven by compassion in a sea of sado-masochism and sheer lust. We know it’s not as simple as that, of course – but that element of the bond between the two leads seems quite human and relatable compared to what we see surrounding them every week.
Into this mire steps Seigi (hardly a surprise given the tone of the episode). When Kiri and Iwai were asked by a bellman to “help out with the entertainment” and don oni horns (Iwai) and a strange fur (Kiri) I was outraged enough – the notion that they should have to dance for the entertainment of such as these was appalling in its own right. But Seigi was behind the whole thing, apparently using the party as an excuse to set Kiri up for another dose of his own brand of judgment. What we can’t know yet is whether this was done in complicity with the Gossip people or on Seigi’s own accord – indeed, it’s not impossible that the entire party was a pretext to lead to this moment, and eliminate the Queen’s protection.
Whoever was behind it, the reality on the field is another confrontation between the two strongest Authors we’ve seen so far. And while you wouldn’t necessarily have guessed it from the synopsis, Crime Edge has proved itself probably the best series of the season when it comes to staging action scenes. Every fight in this series has been a marvel of choreography and art (notwithstanding that some viewers dislike the monochromatic lens effect) and this is one of the best (though I confess I wondered why Kiri didn’t try to cut the rope – perhaps being a spiritual one, it would be impervious to a physical blade, even Kiri’s Crime Edge), with Kiri and Seigi duke it out alongside the offensive spectacle of Iwai, wearing horns and caged. It was suspenseful and quite scary – Seigi’s method of killing is quite a dramatically chilling one – and for me, fueled by genuine rage. I especially despise those of Seigi’s stripe – hypocrites who stand in judgment of others based on nothing other than their grossly distorted opinion of their own worth. I really grew to hate him this week, more than any character in this series and as much as any character for a while. He represents an especially reprehensible side of human nature – and in a sense, it seems as if each of the Authors and their Killing Goods are symbolic of their own wicked human impulse.
On that score, it’s worth noting that even when Seigi gave Kiri (not that it would have mattered in practical terms) an opportunity to plead innocent, he declined – even when Iwai pleaded with him. Of course Kiri is guilty of what Seigi charges him with in the broad sense – he does enjoy inflicting physical violence on those who attack Iwai. He does have impulses which, if unchecked, would lead to disastrous results. In fact, so do we all – we’re human beings, and flawed creatures. The difference – so far at least – between Kiri and the other Authors is that he acts only when the person he loves is threatened, and he has a sense of restraint. He’s never killed, including Seigi – though he cuts him deeply. Seigi by contrast indulges his killing lust at every turn, just as he’s trying to do with Kiri. We all have a dark side, and think bad thoughts sometimes. But just as courage isn’t being fearless, but rather being afraid and acting anyway, so it is with goodness. It’s not the absence of evil thoughts, but the conquering of them that makes good people good. And it represents the difference between Kiri and Seigi.
Is Kiri dead, hanging on-stage from Seigi’s noose? Of course not – this is the 8th episode after all – but it’s a hell of a cliffhanger. I can’t help but be a bit disappointed that the Byouinzaka Sisters watched everything play out on stage, yet did nothing to assist – though they can’t properly be called allies and might not have been able to do much. And there’s the matter of the blonde in the extravagant party dress who watches the events on-stage with disdain. She seems to have something to do with Gossip, as she says she was “ordered to treat the guests with courtesy”. Perhaps this is a clue that Seigi acted as a rogue element rather than with Gossip’s blessing, though it’s hardly conclusive. There’s strong evidence that someone interferes in the end, though who, how, and why are left to next week to be revealed.