When it comes down to it, this episode is about two people, the first of which is Iris. Iris is the big fish in her little pond. She’s never faced anyone who could match her, much less surpass her. This has made her believe she is one of the best fighters, only to be surpassed by nearly legendary figures like Beatrix. But she has failed to realize that the powerful people in her world don’t participate in fighting tournaments—they fight in a secret war amongst the shadows.
Iris got a hint of this back when he saw Alpha defeat the mutated girl with a single strike—something Iris herself couldn’t do. Then she saw Cid’s “I am Atomic” spell in all its glory—and decided it had to be from an artifact rather than a person (despite her sister having seen Cid cast it with her own eyes). But now, there’s no way for Iris to hide from the truth. She is so far below Cid that he can use her experience and training against her to make micro gestures that show he will attack her, yet he never does so. This, in turn, provokes her into a reckless attack—without her even realizing he hadn’t drawn his sword until it was too late. It wasn’t a fight—she wasn’t even a contender. There are much bigger fish in the sea. All that’s left now is to see how she deals with this realization. Will it motivate her to become a stronger fighter and wiser future queen, or will it break her entirely?
The other person this episode is about is Rose, and there’s a lot unspoken going on with her. She has realized that the Oriana Kingdom is currently in the hands of Perv Asshat and the Cult. With her father drugged, he is under their control. More than that, he can be used as a hostage to control her. Yet, Perv Asshat has one major weakness: he doesn’t have legitimacy. That is why he needs Rose. Through their marriage, he would be in line to be king. Without both the King and Rose under his thumb, however, he loses most of his political power. Thus, Rose’s path is clear as a princess who loves her kingdom.
While the ideal option would be to kill Perv Asshat and save her father, that’s obviously unrealistic. After the last time she tried to do so, she likely understands she isn’t skilled enough to do the deed. Thus, the best she can do is kill her father and then herself—assuring that Prev Asshat can’t take the throne. That’s why she doesn’t hesitate when Perv Asshat uses her father as a human shield—she was never aiming for Perv Asshat in the first place.
Of course, a lot is going into her subsequent attempted suicide, besides the logical reason. She feels killing her father is unforgivable and knows that once she has done so, there is no going back—she has lost her place in the world. Death is the easy way out.
Yet, her father forgives her before she strikes—likely knowing what she’s about to do and approving of it. He even ensures his last words are not condemnation but love. Then (unintentionally on his part) Cid reminds Rose that she does have a place in this world—though far different from what it was before. She has been unknowingly following his example most of her young life (not realizing Shadow and the Stylish Thief Slayer were the same person until this pivotal moment). Now all she needs to do is continue doing so. If she wants to avenge her father and save her kingdom, she needs to follow his example and fight on—so she runs away to fight again another day.
And with that, we’re all set for our climatic final episode as Perv Asshat tries to salvage his evil plan, and Cid faces off against the greatest warrior of the age: the Goddess of War Beatrix.
• I love that Cid beating Iris A) distracted Perv Asshat and B) disgusted King Midgar so much that he left—meaning Perv missed the chance to use his backup plan and have Rose’s dad kill Iris’. His continued presence in the arena also distracts Beatrix, allowing Rose to kill her father.
• I would have liked to hear Cid’s reason for saving Rose. Something tells me it’s not because he cares for her or anything so noble.
• I wonder if Rose recognized Beta’s voice.
• It’s a minor detail, but I love that Beatrix’s coat remains floating where she was standing when she and Shadow dash into the air at super speed.
• Beatrix is the second person Cid faces that’s caused him to smile—the first being Aurora.
• I wonder if Claire and Alexia are also in the arena.
• In this week’s Kage Jitsu, we learn that Beta pads her bust while acting in her Natsume roll—purposely using her sex appeal as a weapon.
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Richard is an anime and video game journalist with over a decade of experience living and working in Japan. For more of his writings, check out his Twitter and blog.
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