Or, “The Episode Where Berkhart Goes Full Shane”.
Yay! We’ve got new allies (or were they old allies from the video game that we’ve just not seen in the anime?) and they’ve given our heroes a good chance to regroup, recoup, and reconsider a few things. The princess in the pink hair decides she’s gonna continue on home, but her trusty defender Berkhart? Well, you took a wound from the dark soldiers. You stick with Yuri. Teach that Aram kid how to fight, he could learn a lot from you. Hey, what is that Aram kid up to, anyways? Well, he’s rushing in to defend innocent hostages and having a hard time of it with his busted-up sword. He snags a new one from the weaponsmith’s booth and goes to town on the baddie. That’s not just any smith, either. That’s Dusty, official armorer of the Volunteer Army, and the sword is a gift for joining up. Really nice one, too. Forged by a legendary earth-sprite. He’s also given the advice that the weapon will start to take on its owner’s soul. Bushido aside, Aram names his new best friend Hirameki-maru. A brief lesson in Japanese, since the significance of this name would go over the heads of many. “Hirameki” can mean flair, or flashy, but it can also mean inspiration, and can also mean the waving of a flag. Hirameki is also a type of book full of ink-blot tests that encourages you to draw around those ink blots to make images that are unique to how you see them. This is, to him, something that seems like it’s all for show, but is really the symbol of his resolve in irresolute times. Resolve for what? We’ll get back to this.
Yuri is meeting with Gilbert, leader of the Vice-capitol. They discuss the whys and wherefores of the Black King Suppression Army (Yuri should not be allowed to name things). This discussion also crosses into some darker territory. The spread of the dark mana is infectious and malignant. Gilbert reveals that not only his flower garden, but his right arm have been infected. With each new infection, other infected victims have the darkness spread through them, making it even easier for them to spread it to others. Easiest way to get it is from a wound from one of the dark soldiers. Like Yuri got on his arm from the Black King. In fact, if I didn’t know better, I’d say that we’re all infected. Yuri begins having hallucinations of the darkness within himself, telling him to give up. He fights it with the power of hope and a chat with Aram. Why does Aram want to get stronger? To beat the Black Army, who have destroyed every home he’s ever made in the world. Whenever he would set down roots, they’d destroy that, too!
The knicker-twisted Berkhart goes to Aram and his nifty new blade to help teach him how to fight even better. But that blade, it’s way too nice for someone like Aram, a thief, to have. He confronts the boy, and is promptly shut down when Dusty arrives and confirms that it was, in fact, a gift. Berkhart apologizes, but starts really beating himself up over it. He joins Yuri and the others, including the representative from the mage guild, Aludra, and her friend… I missed his name… Hey, isn’t that Gatsu? Scar on his face, covered in dark armor, giant sword with no guard named Dragonslayer. That is Gatsu! Chain Chronicle ripped off Berserk! Good taste, Sega.
Our new Suppression Army makes camp on the road, but Berkhart is feeling extra depressed and abandoned and generally making me want to call the Waa-mbulance when the scantily-clad sorceress from the first episode shows up and starts pushing his buttons. And pushing her darkness-tainted hand into his wound. Tainted meat. The spread of his darkness only further amplifies his depression, and when the heroes arrive to his aid, he goes over to the side of evil. Why? Because when you don’t feel like there’s anywhere you belong, but the bad guys say they like you, you go with them? Evil Berkhart, complete with evil, tattered/spiky armor, has no time to play, though, as he has to go home to his evil daddy.
This episode did a great way of weaving together the threads of this dark mana infection that has been slowly built up throughout the series thus far. We get to see how it spreads and why it seems to be acting the way it does with the Chain Chronicle. I like watching Yuri’s development, as he was once like Aram. This is a nice twist that they brought in for this show. Rather than have Yuri be this shining light for everyone, as he was in the game, he is now a battle-hardened leader. Aram is introduced to fill that roll, which allows the main character of the game a chance to grow and be more. Kinda like how Glenn is gone and now we have Jesus to fill his role.
The animation continues to stun me. Other than a moment when the sultry evil sorceress looked a bit stiff mid-flight, all of the animation was smooth and dynamic. Right next to her stiffness, though, there is an extreme close-up of her lips as she’s talking. The animation on that, as well as the lip sync was phenomenal. I really am impressed with the art, animation, and dub in this series, and it is rapidly climbing the charts of anime in my mind. I give it nine hirameki ink -lots out of ten.
PS. I don’t have a good excuse for all The Walking Dead references I’ve done in this review. I apologize. Comment below as to how many you found here.