Sorry. Couldn’t help it.
Katana Maidens: Toji no Miko
Studio: Studio Gokumi
Genre: Action, Supernatural
So these past few episodes created a lot to unpack from a plot standpoint. Episode 19 mostly consisted of the girls licking their wounds and being depressed about losing in that last big battle. It was actually really interesting seeing this more dejected side to Kanami. We all know, by now, that she’s just wearing her smile. She’s not as oblivious and boundlessly happy as she seems. Having her sort of beginning to buckle makes her seem more human. Which is something that works wonders, considering one of the many themes that the series appears to be working toward. More on that later.
That being said, the actual plot was something I found interesting. Much like a certain other school in this anime season, the bad guys are using recent events to discredit the heroes of the story. But in this case, the method is a lot more direct and underhanded. The villains of this series are actively manipulating the government. They have some kind of leverage and are painting a picture through media that very much casts the Toji schools not aligned with them in a negative light. It’s a completely different tactic from that other show. But that fits.
In that show, the villains are trying to make a statement. Their undermining of the heroes (even indirectly) is something they’re doing in the interest of proving a point. In this show, the villains are only using this tactic as a means to an end. Princess Tagitsu is trying to bait the public and get the government to basically give her what she wants. She neither believes nor cares about anything coming from her mouth. It’s a clever tactic, certainly. And not one without any thematic weight, given things that were brought up in earlier episodes. This makes Princess a very compelling villain in her own right. Because she’s actually using everything the heroes believe and their own doubts to her advantage.
I still have some noteworthy concerns regarding how she managed to dupe people into following her. It’s not exactly a secret that her ultimate goal is basically the extinction of mankind. She’s the “destroy” ending personified. Except unlike in Mass Effect 3, that isn’t the “good” option. Why would two Toji school presidents and Yomi follow her when that’s her clear goal? Did she lie to them? What possible reason could they have for believing a word she says?
Episode 20 begins the lead-in to the climax and it really feels like it. One of the biggest themes of this series is atonement and consequences of past actions. This is true of several characters who are doing what they think is the right thing, only to wind up regretting these decisions. Origami, Maki, President Sagara, it’s all wholly apparent. And this is the episode where it starts coming to a head. The action, what little of it there is, was sleek and didn’t have any of the jarring CG that plagued the earlier episodes.
I liked Origami’s dialogue with the last Princess. The way it makes her reflect on her existence is interesting. And I think it does a lot to both establish and further both of their characters. Prior to this episode, one was an enigma and the other was fairly stoic and also not acting under her own influence for most of her screentime. As brief as the interaction was, the bond they form with one another was a nice one. But it was naturally interrupted by Princess Tagitsu, herself, leading to a fight with a surprise ending. The last Princess fuses with Hiyori and shows up in time to save the day. Also: Apparently Princess Tagitsu can teleport… ‘kay.
But prior to all of that, Hiyori was having trouble coming to terms with the whole of the situation. Meanwhile, Maki and Suzuka were off having a final duel with Yomi, who I’m pretty sure is dead now. Kanami had another fight with her number one fan too. Except this time she absolutely stomped her. My point is that a lot of stuff happened. All packed into a single episode. This makes the episode feel more than a little bloated. Because we’re not really given the time with a number of these developments for them to have the impact they should. They’re a lot of really cool moments, sure. But they’re not given the time to really resonate.
The story has many many many themes in play. But all of them are more or less connected in a way that’s difficult to put into words. There’s a central theme and it seems to revolve around the idea of, for lack of a better term, “paths.” Characters have these goals in mind. Some are grand objectives, some are fairly modest or straightforward. But they choose the path that will get them to where they want to be. Some characters struggle with finding those paths, others struggle with trying to break away from the paths set for them. Some deal with the consequences of the paths they’ve taken. And some are determined to remain on the path they’ve chosen to the bitter end. It’s a very compelling narrative in that regard. So diluting it so much is a bit disappointing.
These episodes were Harmless as a result of this. Nothing really wrong with them. But the audience’s attention is directed to so many vaguely related things that it stretches the content thin and makes it a bit of a chore to follow at times. For a show with a little more focus, I’d recommend Cutie Honey Universe. It only took half a season, but it’s finally found its footing and direction.
Toji no Miko is Simulcast on Crunchyroll, Fridays at 10:00am EST. That’s all for me, here, folks. As always, thanks for reading. Keep up the awesome.
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