Weekly Digest 11/12/13 – Kingdom 2 – 23, Yozakura Quartet ~Hana no Uta~

Kingdom 2 - 23 -9 Kingdom 2 - 23 -19 Yozakura - 06 -15 Yozakura - 06 -8

That was an episode that put the “epic” in historical epic.

Kingdom 2 – 23

Kingdom 2 - 23 -1 Kingdom 2 - 23 -2 Kingdom 2 - 23 -3
Kingdom 2 - 23 -4 Kingdom 2 - 23 -5 Kingdom 2 - 23 -6
Kingdom 2 - 23 -7 Kingdom 2 - 23 -8 Kingdom 2 - 23 -10
Kingdom 2 - 23 -11 Kingdom 2 - 23 -12 Kingdom 2 - 23 -13
Kingdom 2 - 23 -14 Kingdom 2 - 23 -15 Kingdom 2 - 23 -16
Kingdom 2 - 23 -17 Kingdom 2 - 23 -18 Kingdom 2 - 23 -20
Kingdom 2 - 23 -21 Kingdom 2 - 23 -22 Kingdom 2 - 23 -23

Bad CGI and all, this last sequence of battles has been one of the best I’ve seen in anime for a long time.  Admittedly that’s a pretty low bar since hardly anyone is doing this sort of thing these days, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that the staging has been truly great.  This episode especially was an adrenaline rush from start to finish, with both the larger conflict and the individual battles choreographed beautifully in both the physical and narrative sense.

I know I’m not supposed to, but I find myself rooting for Lun Hu a little bit here – not to win, necessarily, but not to get killed.  Great villains like him don’t grow on trees, and I like the idea of him continuing to lurk out there as a threat.  But if we saw anything this week, it was that great generals are susceptible to overconfidence just like anyone else – it might be their most common failing, in fact.  In Lun Hu’s case it seems to be a simple miscalculation that there wasn’t anyone on the Qin side clever enough to really surprise him.  But there was – one man, at least.

Make no mistake, no matter whether it’s Xin or Wang Ben who takes Lun Hu’s head – if it comes to that – the victory belongs to Meng Tian.  It was he who devised the brilliant strategy that got the other two young wolves within sword’s breadth of the enemy, and he who softened up the enemy by taking out a good chunk of Lun Hu’s elite 700-man personal guard, and great cost to his own Yueha Unit.  Not only is Meng Tian brilliant, but selfless – his judgment was that only his unit was strong enough to take on the thankless role of attacking first, so that’s exactly what he did.

The Meng family grows more and more interesting with each new twist – Meng Ao himself is a bit of an odd duck as far as generals go, especially of this era – a genuinely kind man who leads more by collaboration than force of will.  Clearly he’s overprotective of his grandson, despite (or perhaps because) he knows how brilliant the boy is.  Meng Tian’s own father feels he has to push Meng Ao to give Tian a bigger (and more dangerous) role, a seemingly somewhat cold and emotionless act but one that reflects the fact that Meng Wu is a more typical military man than either his father or his son.

As for the others, they have their showdown with Lun Hu, thanks to Meng Tian’s perfectly timed retreat which lured still more of Lun Hu’s guards away from their Lord.  Are they enough to take him two-on-one?  They’ll have to be, because Qian Lei has pulled back to help keep the rest of the Feixin Force from being wiped out and keep as many of the enemy occupied as possible.  Lun Hu makes another mistake here, declaring Xin the more “manageable” of the two foes and therefore going after Wang Ben first – but he’s underestimated Xin.  For all he lacks in military expertise he has that intangible quality of GAR that makes him more dangerous than anyone when the chips are down, even Meng Tian.  It took Meng Tian’s genius to get Xin to Lun Hu’s doorstep but once events boil down to a simple struggle to the death, Xin is the one you wouldn’t want to be crossing blades with.

Yozakura Quartet ~Hana no Uta – 06

Yozakura - 06 -20 Yozakura - 06 -19 Yozakura - 06 -18
Yozakura - 06 -17 Yozakura - 06 -16 Yozakura - 06 -14
Yozakura - 06 -13 Yozakura - 06 -12 Yozakura - 06 -11
Yozakura - 06 -10 Yozakura - 06 -9 Yozakura - 06 -7
Yozakura - 06 -6 Yozakura - 06 -5 Yozakura - 06 -4
Yozakura - 06 -3 Yozakura - 06 -2 Yozakura - 06 -1

If you blink when you’re watching Yozakura Quartet, you’re liable to miss a panty shot.  The beginning, anyway – the camera usually holds on for five or six seconds.

We’ve pretty much been down this road with YQ before, so there’s not a whole lot to comment on with this episode.  There was some pretty awesome action, solidly in the Gainax tradition (though with a fair bit of CGI in the train-cannon sequence), unapologetic and extended panty shots, and enough deux ex machina for a month’s supply of fanfiction.

The most striking this about this series is definitely the effortless way stuff just happens, without any explanation. In a way Yozakura exists in a sort of Memento world, always living in the present.  As I’ve said before that’s both a blessing and a curse, as it makes those individual moments easy to enjoy but prevents any of it from having any lasting impact.  Kotoha is a glaring example both generally and in this episode – her ability is a huge dramatic cheat to begin with, because Yasuda just has her come up with whatever she needs to serve the plot (read, get some panties exposed and spectacularly have things explode and collide with other things).  But that’s also what gives Ryo-timo an excuse to do that cannon-train sequence, and who’d be crazy enough to complain about that?

The other takeaway from this ep is that Akina really is pretty useless in battle – Hime did everything but tell him to stay barefoot while he’s in the kitchen doing the cooking.  But then, to each his role, and Akina’a is not to do the heavy lifting – that’s for the likes of Hime, Kotoha and Kyousuke.  I don’t much care about The Tall Man, the sniveling rival mayor and the kidnapped moeblob, but I do feel bad for the lizards – they didn’t ask to be turned into giant schmoos and tossed around like professional wrestlers.  Oh, and Hime now has a giant lance called Sakanade that’s made of up pure energy from the “Dragon Vein”.  And white panties.



  1. e

    Oh man the moment when Lun Hu bent backwards on his horse avoiding Xin&Ben's combined attack. Oooh mannnnn.
    But even in a pinch he still hasn't opened his eyes. Maybe if Xin – that forehead wound should trigger his battle mode upgrade :p – and Ben do their job we'll get that next week.
    Qiang Lei is conveniently out of the duel (triel?) hence those two boys better work hard :p.
    Last but not least, Meng Tian can't fill the void left by Wang Qi but oy oy he has charisma and he has still a long road ahead can only get better. Go Tian! 8D
    And we even got a glimpse of his lil' bro after weeks and weeks. In terms of non-battle-involved characters it's better than nothing I guess…

  2. K

    Your comment is as accurate as ever. Thanks Enzo.

  3. E

    It might be because this is still the first real plot arc of (this) Yozakura Quartet's anime adaptation that I feel like the outrageous DEM-like powers the main cast is displaying are still fair play – not only they're being established in a real fight for the first time here, but it's clear that both sides are equally OP – not to mention the conflict hasn't ended yet, and the preview implies it won't be resolved through the fight alone.

    Kotoha's powers are only good for as long as she can speak – all signs point to her stepping out of the fight because of her sore throat – and she requires to be really specific about what she's conjuring for her to be in complete control (which is why she took long and had to be very wordy about her cannon). The only thing I did identify as DEM was Yae's apparent involvement in making the cannon shot homing; they could have simply waited until they were as close as they could to the tower and shoot.

  4. t

    if it wasn't for the CGI, kingdom could really bear the word "epic" with it.
    great episode. it started a bit slowly but step by step, the second half brought out the adrenaline of a real fight. it's great to have a series like kingdom that succeeding with both strategically and individually in terms of fighting. it also feels genuine 'cause it carry out the feeling of history along side with the characters' spirit of fighting.

    kingdom isn't the only one with fighting spirit and adrenaline. YQ brought action episode again. it was great, despite it might feel different..after all it's not like for YQ to have an 2 eps in a row of mostly intense fighting, but the good thing is that it's not disturbing to YQ to remain itself. it's like compltely natural/
    YQ manages to preserves its uniqueness of the chemistry with that characters and have a few comic relief ("tsun tsun dere").
    everyone is so committed to their town and friends that they bring themselves to the verge of collapse in order to set everything right.
    for example, Kotoha even took those pills/medicine/drugs in order to use her full power as long as she can.

  5. R

    I have dropped YQ already, but I still read your reviews. Your post this week made me giggle — I just like how you started it with panties and ended it panties…lol. BTW, why does it have to be white all the time?

    In your Gingitsune review this week, you talked about gratitude. Here, I'm honestly feeling grateful that Kingdom is covered — both seasons. So, thanks Enzo. Kingdom isn't a perfect show at all, but it's so rare to see such a nicely constructed fictional story based on history. It's a nice plot-driven story that has tons of interesting characters, and it's so good that I don't even care when the animation is subpar.

    We finally see Meng Tian's strategy this week. He's definitely a smart kid who has demonstrated his leadership quality. Like you said, I don't think Meng Tian really outwitted Lun Hu — it's how much Meng Tian knew about his enemy and how much Lun Hu didn't and underestimated his. Lun Hu's first task in this war was to weaken the power of Qin — it's just ironic to see how Meng Tian used the same tactics on him even when the execution was different.

    You're right about Meng Ao — I misjudged him when he was first introduced, but he's definitely an odd leader in those days but definitely a more welcome one in the modern world. He made me think of Ben Zander…don't know if you heard of him. Zander is a passionate conductor who co-authored The Art of Possibility. In his Ted Talk, he said, "The conductor of an orchestra doesn’t make a sound. He depends, for his power, on his ability to make other people powerful." Perhaps we haven't been shown yet, but Meng Ao — unlike other generals, including his son — seems to reply more on his power to empower than his prowess. Again, it's in Kingdom that we can see the many different kinds of leadership in its characters and battle strategies that can be applied to our world. That alone makes Kingdom fascinating.

  6. A

    Am I the only one who saw the big-ass train coming out of the smoke and thought "IT RUNS ON STEAAAM!"

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