“Place of Warmth”
Sundays at 10:00 am EST on Crunchyroll
The party forge onward searching for the Altar of Abyss, but soon Gus and his men are hot on their trail.
This episode is disappointing to me because there’s not a great deal of substance happening, and for the first time the show genuinely feels like its treading water. There’s no meaningful plot advancement, nor is there the kind of character development that last week’s episode chose to lay on in the absence of serious story. Instead, we just sort of have a ‘moving here to there’ sequence and that’s not a great sign for a show which doesn’t have the hugest number of episodes in the first place to wrap up a tale that is growing loose ends at an alarming rate.
That’s not to say that this episode is *bad* though, merely that it;’s a little directionless. By now the cast have been well established enough that merely spending time with them is a pleasure unto itself, and the addition of Roman and Otto to the travelling party beefs up both the comedic and dramatic dynamic considerably. Roman’s disastrous cooking is probably the most fun sequence in the episode and both he and Otoo prove their worth in the massive multi-mech battle which makes up the major meat of this episode.
Speaking of that battle, it’s a good ‘un, with 8bit continuing to show that they’ve got a real flair for effectively melding CGI with traditional animation and making it look smooth and slick. The storyboard team makes good use of the setting too, creating a battle and chase that feels claustrophobic and different from your standard open plain. I’m kind of surprised that they’ve let Moura be convincingly trashed so much over the course of the show so far, but it’s kind of nice that the super-magic robot isn’t automatically way more powerful than the guys fighting him. It ups the threat level of the bad guys, making them seem like genuine risks every time they appear, as well as accentuating their military credentials. The gigantic drill-sword that Gus whips out doesn’t hurt either, although it’s perhaps a touch too Super Robot Wars for the setting. Still, mustn’t complain.
As impressive as the fight is though, the major issue here is that it’s really sort of just padding. There’s no real reason for another confrontation here, especially since the outcome is about as close to completely neutral as you can get. The feeling of time-filling is only increased by another interminable cutaway, this time featuring a new wrinkle in the form of an omniscient anonymous council that’s so close to parody that it’s difficult not to laugh. I guess the idea they’re trying to convey is that mysterious observatory man and mysterious glasses woman are going rogue from the mysterious council, but we have so little context for any of this that it’s annoying rather than intriguing.
The one piece of this episode that really does feel substantial is Do Mon’s awesome reveal that he’s not as innocuous as he looks. The show does a really good job of blending what appears to be a casual, almost romantic situation with an interesting flashback, making it even more unexpected when the focus of the story suddenly gets pulled back to the here and now. Given his confirmed past with Gus, it’s going to be really interesting to see how his presence affects the balance between the two sides. Lucifer didn’t give us much to dig into this week but as i said, it was never less than enjoyable and there look to be some rich possibilities going forwards.
- It’s a subtle thing, but I love Otto’s enthusiastic nod after Roman describe’s the power of the car’s engine. It’s a good example of little animation details really bringing a character to life.
- What the hell is the legal driving age on Gift?
- The fact that Do Mon doesn’t actually hide his military past as some sort of shameful secret is a welcome break from the trend.
- We also get a first look at Sogo’s mother, which is nicely underplayed. IS Do Mon his real father? Wouldn’t rule it out yet.
- Another awesome Do Mon moment – hiking with his curry pot.
- Iro’s Note: That drill is right out of Valkyria Chronicles.