I’d say that this was probably the least memorable episode of Dansai Bunri since the premiere for me, though with the standard the series has held up for that time that’s still pretty good stuff. What it does manage to do is play off the element that makes this such a unique series, the stark contrasts between… well, everything. The ability not just to make extremes of the tonal spectrum come alive but often hold them up right next to each other and force you to confront them is singularly part of what makes Crime Edge itself, and this ep is a prime example.
For starters, you certainly had all the loli fanservice you could ask for and more – right up the edge of being uncomfortable, for me at least (but then, making audiences uncomfortable is also stock and trade for this show). It’s interesting that the lolis in Crime Edge actually look like lolis and not miniature 18 year-olds – whether that makes the service more or less edgy I’m not sure – and while we meet a genuine loli in this ep, the fact is that Iwai is 14 even if she doesn’t look it. If Iwai looked her age – she’s one year younger than Gargantia’s Amy – the stuff we saw this week would have a considerably different tone than it does. She’s absolutely adorable, no question about that – probably the cutest middle-school aged girl in an elementary-schooler’s body since Yune from Ikoku Meiro – and never more so than when she’s first giddy about her budding romance with Kiri, then aghast with worry after she realizes her hair didn’t grow overnight.
We don’t get an explanation behind that for now – the Gossip party is surely relevant in some way – but we do get a new player in the game, and that’s Emily Redhands (Hidaka Rina, making quite the career out of playing tiny little girls). By all accounts Emily is about 10 years old, but she’s an Author – possessed of the Killing Goods “Opener of Blood Dissection”. She apparently inherited them from her Papa, who’s quite clearly dead – and she brags that she doesn’t have an Instead but rather works as a “professional killer”. She has connections to Violet Witchie – we see them together at the end of the episode – but her interest in killing Iwai seems very personal, and very much connected to her father.
In Emily we see the full effect of Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge’s favorite narrative tack, the juxtaposition of two seemingly disparate elements. Emily is cute to start with, dresses to play it up, plays with her dogs and calls Iwai and Kiri Onee-chan and Onii-san. But she’s also an extremely strong Author and seemingly quite ruthless, as Kiri finds out the hard way. After Iwai has broken a date with Kiri – scared of how he’ll react to her follicular stagnation – both of them end up at the same department store, she trying to distract herself and he buying tools for his Grandfather. Iwai ends up taking the “lost” Emily to look for her father, though in reality she’s simply a useful distraction for Iwai and for her own part using the opportunity to size Iwai up. When she comes clean with the truth Iwai screams at the sight of her knives, which attracts Kiri’s attention. Whether Emily would truly have killed Iwai here is somewhat unclear – she later tells Witchie she only wanted to scare her and was waiting for the anniversary of her father’s death to do so. What in fact happens is that Emily and Kiri are the ones who end up fighting, in quite memorable fashion.
While we’ve seen Kiri go toe-to-toe with some considerably fearsome opponents, most of whom dwarfed him in size, it’s this miniature assassin that most seems to unmake him. At first he makes the mistake of hesitating to fight her at all because she’s a child, but the folly of that becomes clear soon enough. There’s a striking sense of fear in their rooftop battle, where he never lands a blow but she manages to cut him repeatedly – it felt as if this was the most dangerous moment Kiri has faced in the series so far. Perhaps it was in part what Iwai said to him at the end of last week’s episode (“My lips will be waiting for you so don’t go and die”) and the growing sense of all he now has to lose, but Kiri was genuinely scared – and outclassed – for the first time in this battle. As Emily herself says, knives seem like a very bad matchup for scissors. Eventually Kiri flees the field, clearly somewhat puzzled as to why this among all his dangerous confrontations has left him shaken and deeply unsettled.
I’m not sure where this episode plays into the larger plot, as it revealed less of its secrets than any thus far. Emily hints that she and Iwai could be sisters, or at least that her Papa used to think about Iwai a lot. Then there’s the matter of Kiri’s injuries, which initially appear to be shallow cuts but in fact seem to be life-threatening – no doubt due to the power in Emily’s Killing Goods – and look as if they will necessitate Yamane’s intervention in next week’s episode (she should certainly know her way around flesh wounds). As for the Kiri and Iwai’s relationship, despite the initial setback caused by Iwai’s reaction to her hair problem it seemed to take a step forward this week with Kiri referring to himself as her boyfriend. Watching the two of them try to have a normal relationship in the most abnormal of situations remains the most interesting element of Crime Edge for me, and I hope it’s a major focus of the last three episodes.