“The Fool” (ばか)
This was a semi-interesting episode because it was more informative than some of the previous action-based episodes, but it wasn’t exactly boring either. What I liked best about this episode was the insight into the relationship between Nobu and Ichihime, which is a relationship that I’ve been interested in for a while now. Sibling relationships, when written well (the best one of all being in Fullmetal Alchemist and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood) are a real winner in my books. So many series focus on romance or friendship with a passing mention of kyoudai but when we really get an inside look at the sibling dynamics, there can be something really heartwarming about it, so I enjoy it a great deal. This was one of those episodes.
Ichihime has been an underrated character so far, to the point where her kindness and all-knowing personality falls flat, forced and oftentimes insincere with me. There’s been an air of perfection about her, that doesn’t quite lend itself to her as a very relatable or enjoyable character. Despite this, however, I’ve been dancing around the obvious romantic tension between her and Mitsuhide, which I enjoy because she seems to make him just a little bit reckless and throws him off balance and I can really appreciate a female character who can do just that. I suppose I’ve just been waiting for Ichihime to be given screentime so that I can decide for myself what kind of a character she is. This episode didn’t do much to alter my impression of her as, unfortunately, a Mary Sue, Miss Practically Perfect in Every Way type of girl. For one thing there’s Caesar’s obvious infatuation with her, which leads to an ultimatum between Caesar calling a truce and protecting Oda land, in exchange for taking Ichihime for himself. I’d go into the commodification of women but I’d rant for too long. Despite the outcry, Ichihime ‘gladly accepts’ but promises that if he goes back on his word, she’ll kill him herself. There’s an unintentional self-righteousness in her response, which again, doesn’t make for a very interesting character, at least in my opinion. There’s too much perfection and too much goodness that, well, it’s just flat and uninteresting.
Having said that, I was very much moved by her interaction with Nobu. I wish this entire show was full of sibling moments because that made this episode that much more tender. Nobu’s fiercely protective of her but not in an expressive, or vocal manner. He’s his usual cavalier self, but there’s a perpetual implication of his love for his little sister that I think is very sweet to watch. Ichihime’s treatment of her older brother is also something heartwarming as she’s a perfect mixture of encouraging and admonishing whenever he does silly things. The fact that she’s defended him not only to others but to their father speaks of her love for him and I just thought it was adorable.
Nevertheless, her decision to marry Caesar has brought about some unforeseen consequences, namely that strange and ominous crack on the surface of the Western Star. More importantly for Nobu’s friends, though, is Mitsuhide’s clear opposition and pain to the idea of Ichihime marrying Caesar, and he made a pretty darned ugly face in response to it. But seriously, this man needs to get his act together because he’s been falling short of my expectations of him lately.
I feel that now that we’ve reached the halfway point, the rest of the series is going to be much more action-packed and possibly darker. I foresee a lot of interesting developments, particularly with the characters themselves and with tensions on the rise I’m quite looking forward to seeing where the second half takes us.