Despite her sudden upswing in popularity, both Eiko and her manager wonder if Kongming’s success during the last performance was a fluke. When they arrive at their next gig at an outdoor music festival, their concerns become much more real. With a popular band nearby and an out of the way location, they’ve got almost nothing to work with. Luckily, Kongming has just the stratagem to make something out of nothing!
I know Brendan mentioned in his Episode 2 review that he had little knowledge of Zhuge Liang/Kongming outside of the Dynasty Warriors franchise, but I’m racing him to the bottom by having never played those games and knowing EVEN LESS! Honestly, knowing nothing about the historical figure or their other popular representations hasn’t taken away from the experience. The gimmicks and gags are funny enough that they come across well even without background knowledge, though I’m sure folks more familiar with the material will get more of a kick out of seeing such a renowned figure in this banana-pants situation.
In this episode, we see Kongming dealing with another disadvantageous situation as Eiko is booked in a backwater part of a large outdoor festival. Stuck in a disadvantageous situation, things get even worse when the crew’s audio equipment stops working. Kongming and Eiko are able to salvage the situation, though I won’t spoil how for anyone catching up on the show.
My favorite part this time around is how we get to see more of Kongming, not just as a strategist, but as a person. He uses keen observation, timing, and a little deception to score a victory, but doesn’t revel in it. Instead, he shares drinks with nearby fans and tells the manager some of his regrets from his past life – his drive and focus blinded him to the small things that make soldiers’ lives more bearable in a time of war, and he is grateful for the chance to enjoy those small pleasures in a time of peace. It’s surprisingly genuine, and I appreciate the show taking the time to acknowledge such things while still keeping true to the lighthearted and goofy spirit of the premise.
We also get to see how Kongming handles interactions with his “enemies” in this time when he confronts a more popular band that was playing opposite of Eiko. It goes surprisingly well, and after how much of a jerk Mia was, it’s nice to see that not all relationships will be so openly hostile. That said, Kongming makes it clear that if hostilities did break out, he’d be ready.
This is another fun episode that adds some depth and humanity to the proceedings and ends with the promise of a greater conflict to come. I’m still enjoying the show, and the music is growing on me. As much as I like watching Kongming basically succeed from the word jump, I hope that we’ll see more situations where he and the team are put on the back foot and need to respond by changing up their strategy. I also look forward to seeing if Eiko grows and changes as the series goes on, and if she becomes more than a vehicle for Kongming’s shenanigans. Regardless of how it turns out, I’m enjoying myself for now and am excited for more!