Gabimaru manages to murder all but one of the giant monsters that surrounded him and Sagiri, with the last being dispatched by another of the Asaemon – Genji – who has arrived in the company of the kunoichi Yuzuriha and her assigned executioner Senta. Genji was originally assigned to Makiya the apostate, but the latter was seduced by Yuzuriha and used as fodder to gauge the dangers of the local wildlife. Gabimaru accepts her offer to become… allies of convenience in exchange for their findings, but doesn’t receive any more than was discussed in their negotiations. Sagiri collapses.
Elsewhere on the island, we get glimpses into the character of some of the other convicts and their executioners. The Blade Dragon Gantetsusai uses his unparalleled swordsmanship for petty reasons out of boredom, and is shadowed by Asaemon Fuchi, who has taken an interest in the cadavers of the executed and the advances in medicine that their analysis allows. Bandit King Chobe is a natural at assessing situations and turning them to his advantage, and is accompanied by his brother Tobe, who infiltrated the ranks of the Asaemon to rescue him. Similar to Gabimaru & company, this pair encounters homunculus-like giants, though these ones manage to speak against the killing of any kind of animals before Chobe murders them in an egomaniacal rampage.
I actually find myself a tad disappointed that we aren’t speedrunning encounters as fast as the dude from episode two thought we would be. It seems like only four of the ten criminals are already dead, and we haven’t even seen one of them since the winnowing. The additional characterization for Gantetsusai and the brothers suggests that we’ll be seeing a lot more of them – I can only hope that the fights among rivals are well-interspersed with the journey of discovering what force controls this island and its bizarre inhabitants. Asaemon Senta comments upon the blend of Buddhist and Taoist imagery, and the generally disturbing forms they take point more towards deliberate design than to an underlying truth that is reflected by both traditions. With the previous episode’s news about the Iwagakure clan being contacted, though, and how much it talked up the patriarch, I would not be at all surprised if he ends up being the real final boss, so to speak (with his daughter in tow for maximum drama).
I’m also a bit disappointed with Sagiri’s performance thus far, which is only partially ameliorated by her own apparent dissatisfaction with the same. Perhaps this is simply setting the bar low so that her character growth seems more impressive, but it does feel a little like backpedaling from her introduction. While I’m complaining, Tobe’s devotion to his brother is… understandable, given their history of the younger hanging on the elder’s coattails for the majority of their childhood, but he could stand to cut down the number of times he says “Nii-san!”. It would be interesting to see him come into his own as a character, considering that his introduction involves his unusually rapid rise in the Asaemon’s ranks.
I worry that the show’s going to struggle keeping the character interactions compelling over the long term, but I’m hoping we at least get to see some cool fights and an interesting mystery.
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