After all the exposition and new information we got last week, I was obviously extremely hyped to see Ginti again and this time in his own bar, in his own element. The episode turned out to be rather disappointing, though. Now, I don’t have anything against light-hearted comedy moments but it feels like the show missed an opportunity here. This episode has a lot going for it, especially at the beginning – there are new characters, a new setting and a new ‘game’ of the week, but throughout the episode I felt as though I was waiting for the episode to really get going but just as things seemed ready to take off, the plot gets conveniently resolved and as a result, the episode never really rises above the light-hearted moments and the fanservice. Since we don’t get much information and nothing really noteworthy happens, I don’t have a great deal to talk about this week.
Ginti’s antics last week, alongside his permanently grumpy face and attitude, were enough to relegate him to the comic relief/lovable fool box for a while. Still, I was really hoping that there would be more depth to the character beyond just his irritability. What I really wanted from this episode was to see how Ginti reacts when he’s put in a tight spot – in fact, that’s something I’ve been hoping to see in this show right from its first episode. The opening episode probably featured the hardest choice the arbiters have had to make so far in terms of who goes to heaven/hell. Subsequent episodes have been pretty much open and shut cases, though this show does do a good job of playing with your expectations. Now, it might just be that I’m too familiar with the Quindecim, but it felt to me that the Viginti (Ginti’s bar for those who didn’t catch it) didn’t really mesh well with the other settings in the show. Still, now that I think about it, it does very much reflect its owner and his much more, shall we say, informal approach to his job. Unlike Decim, Ginti barely even pretends to care – he basically skips all the introductory explanations whereas Decim painstakingly explains it all in detail and is very proper about the whole thing. What I found interesting though was Ginti’s line pictured above; before I realized it was more for the sake of comedy than a serious representation of his point of view, I thought Ginti’s position on the arbitrating process was a natural consequence of doing his job for a long period of time. There are some personalities that are repulsed by the concept of humans being forced to fight for their lives, but the gladiatorial games in ancient Rome were popular for a reason – there is something intrinsically captivating about watching two human beings trying to outlast each other to survive. That is what this week’s episode lacked – neither contestant even really knew what the stakes were until the very end and by this stage in the show, the whole process of the two individuals having their emotional moment is kind of predictable and is becoming in a little stale. It was especially bad this week since the emotions sort of came out of nowhere – one minute it was fanservice and comedy and then all of a sudden, we’re supposed to be serious again. It doesn’t work that way, unfortunately and it made the episode weak and half-hearted.
We should also talk about the new setting. I really like the way the bars reflect their respective operators – the Quindecim is prim and proper, a classy place but also a somewhat emotionless one, just like Decim himself. The colour schemes line up too – the Quindecim is black and white (kind of like how Decim views the world sometimes) and generally full of darker, less exuberant colours. On contrast that with the Viginti – like Ginti’s hair, the bar is full of red and has a fiery aspect to it, which also lines up with his attitude. We should also note the similarities in the naming convention – I don’t think we’ve met Quin yet, and I’m not sure if Vi is a person but essentially it seems like each bar is run as a partnership between an arbiter and this other person, perhaps the person in charge of distilling the memories. I wonder if every arbiter has a bar of their own and if so, I want to know what Nona’s place looks like, assuming that we haven’t already seen it; I’m sure it’d be one hell of a place.
Let’s end today’s discussion with our couple of the week. I’ve criticized this format before, saying that it’s formulaic and not particularly interesting and I stand by that. This week we get a potentially interesting couple – a fan girl and her idol, basically. The trouble is that while they are somewhat interesting characters, nothing ever comes of the tension between them. On one hand, the girl doesn’t change at all throughout the game and though the idol guy does seem to become a little less of an asshole, I can’t really bring myself to care too much. Ginti seems to have let them both off the hook though so I guess that’s a sign that they’re both relatively ok people, though I do remember Nona saying that Ginti isn’t particularly good at his job, though she might have been referring to how he barely bothers with the rules (until it’s too late to even matter) and his attitude. I did love the surprise cameo from the Assistant and Decim at the very end – that was when I realized that the band C.H.A that was referred to throughout the episode was the episode’s title: Cross Heart Attack, which is a ridiculous name, but maybe it sounds better in Japanese.
So, to wrap things up, this week was a little bit of a letdown but the preview promises us more Decim, Assistant and Nona next week, as well as the old man with the glasses whose name I’ve forgotten. My main worry is that I’m not sure if the show has time to really get us invested in the characters and their conflicts – I’ve mentioned before that I suspect Decim will have to judge the Assistant by the show’s end but as things stand right now, I can’t myself really caring about the outcome since we know so little about her and Decim’s own dilemma hasn’t really been played up either. Hopefully, we’ll see some steps towards rectifying that next week.