Meng Tian has certainly been the conspicuously absent figure over the last few episodes of Kingdom, but it was always only a matter of time before he made his presence felt in a big way.
Kingdom 2 – 22
I’ve had the feeling for a while that Meng Tian was the most dangerous of the three young generals jockeying for position in the Qin army this season of Kingdom. He’s something of the best of the others without the baggage: he has Wang Ben’s military training and strategic sense without his arrogance and devotion to the conventional, and some of Xin’s raw genius and gift for people without his rashness and anger issues. Of the three, he seems to be the one that’s most able to see the big picture, and to be able to act independently of his personal biases.
On the Wei side, I don’t think there’s every been any doubt than Lun Hu was the deadliest of Lian Po’s Four Heavenly Kings. That made an eventual date between Lun Hu and Meng Tian inevitable, though the form it seems to be taking is a bit different than what I expected. Not surprisingly it’s Meng Tian who sets events into motion, taking Xin along to the tent where Wang Ben is recovering from his injuries to plan a strategy. And what a plan it is – to disregard order and take the fight to Lun Hu before he has a chance to take the battle to them.
Meng Tian’s reasoning seems pretty sound to me. With the left and right armies basically stalemated, it’s only a matter of time before Lun Hu stops sandbagging and launches an all-out assault aimed at catching Meng Ao in a pincer trap, an attack neither Wang Ben or Meng Tian believes the Qin central army could withstand. The other half of Meng Tian’s reasoning is just as sound – if they’re going to do something that gets them discussed in the same breath as the legendary vice-generals, they need to band together to do it because none of their units is strong enough to take out Lun Hu individually. Again, it seems that Meng Tian’s ability to think big and think long is what separates him from his two rivals, at least for now.
We don’t know the details of the plan yet, but it seems safe to assume Wang Ben wouldn’t have tagged along if it weren’t a damn good one. Interestingly, both Lun Hu and Meng Tian have similar thoughts heading into this battle – Lun Hu to avenge the man he thought of as his grandfather, and Meng Tian to protect the man who is his. We don’t often see Meng Tian acknowledge his personal feelings or embrace the savage, brutal side of war the way he is here. It should be fascinating to see if these three young wolves have what it takes as a pack to take down the most dangerous man on the battlefield – I expected this team-up to happen at some point this season, but it’s come sooner than I expected.
Outbreak Company – 05
I did watch this week’s episode of the O.C., so I may as well say a few words about it. You pretty much know what to expect here – it’s fun, intermittently quite humorous and probably the most meta show of the season.
I confess to a certain fondness for the gag of having the local population devolve into a pack of quarrelling otaku, elves and dwarves fighting not over racial stereotypes but the relative merits of lolicon. Is there a statement being made here about the quality of Japanese culture being imported via the Abe Government’s “Cool Japan” initiative or am I giving O.C. too much credit? In any event it’s well-played for the most part.
Meanwhile, Petrarca hasn’t realized that she’s lost already and tries to win Shinichi over with a hard-core tsundere arc. This is of course as meta as anything in the episode because, well, she’s already a hard-core tsundere. No, this is Myuseru’s win (she and Shinichi are already talking about going back to Japan together) but Elbia very nearly claimed his purity for herself, as she’s in-heat and finally breaks under the pressure and jumps him in bed (you undressed the wrong half, Elbia). Interestingly, though, the whole in-heat thing is a bit of a misdirection – because Elbia admits it’s only Shinichi she wanted to get it on with. And the three of them may have some competition from Garius, who seems to have officially embraced his inner BL under constant enticement from Minori-san.
I’m not sure there will be further weekly posts on Outbreak Company, unless I can find a logical pairing for it in digest form that makes sense with the schedule – I don’t generally see the point in posting on a show three days after it airs. Failing that I may do summary posts every few weeks, as I do plan to watch it through till the end unless something changes.
Yozakura Quartet ~Hana no Uta~ – 05
This was probably my favorite episode of the current season of Yozakura Quartet, largely because it managed to make a little headway in establishing a genuinely tense atmosphere – always an issue with YQ for me, as I said last week.
The #1 draw in this series though remains the visuals. While there are occasional lapses in character models and background detail, it’s not the huge budget that sells the good here – it’s style. When you watch a series like Yozakura it makes you aware of how many anime out there are really routine when it comes to cinematography and art. Watching a show like this or Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge you realize just what a difference it makes when you have a staff that can make absolutely anything look interesting. There’s just no boring shots here – the action sequences, the fanservice, the crowd scenes, even the two old coots from the pottery shop walking down the street – it’s all creatively staged and stylish and endlessly fun to watch.
When you add to that a successful capture of the hyperactive narrative drive that YQ has when it’s working you have a very good episode – and that’s what this was. I could care less about the kidnapping of Kouhime (keep my moeblob, please) by the creepy old dude from Phantasm but I could watch Kyousuke and Eiji (Ono Yuuki) throw cars and scooters at each other all day. The big revelation to come out of all this of course is that Hime is in fact a youkai – a fact she’s kept hidden from the town for six years thanks to a little memory-wipe from Yae-san. I frankly don’t think it’s much of a big deal in context as it’s made out to be, considering the realities of Sakura New Town.
That leaves us with Hime sidelined, for the moment, and Akina trying to clean up the mess without her. That means someone has to get to the top of Tokyo Tower to disable the Anti-Youkai Field The Tall Man is using to Gilooly the various youkai in opposition to him, but his half-youkai Eiji is keeping Akina and Kyousuke busy even as Kotoha and Ao have their hands full with his pet giant schmoo-dinosaur. If you care about those sort of details, that is – which I do a little, but mostly I’m just enjoying the ride.