Episode 37 is a heavy dose of some much-needed exposition, balanced with some character moments that shine. Opening with a beautiful shot of Mapulehu, as our protagonists take their first tentative steps through the village. This is an episode that gives us a look at the world away from the Empire and its colonial mindset. We see the direct ramifications of the Empire’s actions and a glimpse at what the empire is desperately searching for.

Episode 37 Reaction: Mapulehu

The first thing I noticed about this shot was the ground. It seems so barren and dry. In the last episode, I had thought that the village was in a jungle, yet now I am not so sure. Looking closely it is apparent that the village is in decline, possibly suffering a drought. Wherever this place is, it does not seem as technologically advanced as the areas we have seen in the empire.

Indeed, between the clothing of its denizens and the structures, it would seem it is more tribal. Based on my research, I believe the outfit professor Hu is wearing is Polynesian or traditional Hawaiian in origin or at least inspired by it. I really like his outfit and the juxtaposition of colours. I think it stands out against the more western flavour outfits our protagonists wear. Thinking on it, Professor Hu’s outfit could be said to be symbolic of a different approach and given the nomenclature we have encounters makes me wonder if he represents a different narrative from those we have encountered thus far. I wonder if he represents the “Old World” that has been mentioned a few times. It would make sense as the connotations that arise from the duel terms of the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ world are usually colonial.

The next few panels focus on Jinsei as he walks through Mapulehu. The villagers seem aghast at his presence, not surprising considering their reaction at the gates.

This place….

Jinsei’s thoughts

The only way that they could survive is if they integrated with the Empire..

The new world.

Of course, there were some that opposed the movement, but…

Jinsei

There can be no denying the hatred in the eyes of the villages but what is interesting is Jinsei’s reaction as he looks around. He seems to be genuinely shocked at the dilapidation of the village. There is an irony in that the very thing the empire supposedly wanted to avoid, it ended up causing. Though I think their motivation was little more than an excuse to make it more palatable for the empire’s forces.

What happened to Mapulehu?

The scene blends perfectly into a flashback from when Jinsei was still a crown prince and his first visit to Mapulehu. General Pisca and General Davis offer to handle the affair.

You can just station us here for the time being. We’ll be sure to maintain order and habve the natives safely migrated.

General Davies.

Jinsei agreed to this, without much hesitation which is not surprising given his position and the mission I assume he had been given. It would seem that as far as he was concerned it was a humanitarian mission, to help the people of the Old World. The next panel shows us General Pisca and Davis.

What is interesting about this panel is how it showcases the face these Generals give to Jinsei and perhaps showcase his naivety. At first glance, there does not seem to be anything amiss but on closer inspection. General Davis’ eyes seem narrowed, and a slight smile of satisfaction is written on Pisca’s face. Their uniforms are also curious, up until this point, every General has donned a uniform of white and gold. Yet here we see that their uniforms are slightly different in design. Seeming to opt for a zip in place of the buttons we have seen on their current white uniform. The colour scheme is the same as the clothing Jinsei wears. T me this suggests two possibilities. First, the Empires military dress was changed following Jinsei’s father’s death and Sumire’s subsequent ascension to the throne. Or Second, that the uniform worn here was linked directly to Jinsei and therefore abandoned when he was labelled traitor. Alternatively, they simply could be a uniform denoting a different branch of the empire’s forces. The next panels show Jinsei leaving and a satisfied Pisca.

This panel really showcases the true cost of the Generals actions in Mapulehu. The verdant green showcases a vibrant thriving world. It is a far cry from the Village Jinsei returned to. It is not unsurprising the villagers reacted the way they did. Though we do not have an exact time frame, given that Jinsei wore the same uniform as he did prior to his exile, I would assume this flashback takes place at the most a year prior to his return. In that time, the land has literally been transformed into a dry, dilapidated shell of what we see here. Which raises the question – exactly what did the General’s do here?

Back to the present, the first shot we see is looking over Jinsei’s shoulders at the village. The juxtaposition of the verdant and vibrant village seen in the past really showcases the cost and its effect on Jinsei is palpable. He is unable to respond to Professor Hu’s question, instead, hesitating and trailing off. Professor Hu explains that the village went through harsh conditions under the General’s watch, especially since their relics were taken from them. Again we get another panel that shows us the brown withered earth, this time a with a shocked Kanae who responds with “Relics.”

Their Spirit Coins, Lono and Pell

Professor Hu

Given the Empires preoccupation with spirit coins, learning that they stole them from a community and then all but abandoned them comes as no surprise. Looking back at the flashback their mission was to facilitate the migration process of the Mapulehu people and yet we see no indication that this was even started. it is easy to argue that the people were against the policy as Jinsei confirmed earlier, but even so, if any widescale migration process was enacted, you would expect to see some evidence of it. That said, we have only seen a few panels depicting Mapulehu, but even if a number of villagers decided to stay behind, there wouldn’t necessarily be enough to man the wall and be present in the village. Instead for all purposes, it seems that none were migrated at all. The final panel depicting Jinsei speaks volumes te expression on his face is a mix of shock tinged with anger. That he was unaware of what the General’s did in Mapulehu is incontrovertible and his confirmation is bitter. Worse still, as Jinsei was the commanding officer upon arrival, the blame rests squarely on his shoulders. The glaring of guard stalking behind him and the villagers he passed earlier makes it abundantly clear who the villagers deem responsible. Worse still is Professor Hu’s reaction to the details being missing from the report given to Jinsei. He responds with a flat “…of course. But enough on that for now.” before welcoming them to his hut and bidding them to “make yourselves at home.” before promptly sending the scowling guard away with a promise to “explain everything later.”

Once inside, Professor Hu’s demeanour changes, the stoic seriousness that seemed to hang around him in the previous panels is replaced by a more carefree laid back persona. For some reason he decides it is a good time to use a back scratcher… or maybe his shoulder cloak was itchy – either way, it gives us a look at his profile with this glorious image.

First impressions looking at this panel is that Professor Hu is one of those people who are irritatingly joyful. The kind of person who can walk into a crowded room and effortlessly cause laughter to ring.

Jinsei, uh… That’s “Uncle” Marius?

Flayvus to Jinsei

I love the awkward looks on Flayvus and Jinsei’s faces. You can tell they are really out of their comfort zones. Which is made even more apparent when Professor Hu pinches Jinsei’s cheek

Jinsei, You’ve grown up so well in only the last several years!

Professor Hu to Jinsei.

Kanae sums up my reaction to this entire sequence. Watching Jinsei squirm awkwardly is really amusing.

I’m beginning to really like this goofball and Seven’s “I’m so done with this” attitude makes it all the better. This sequence may be one of the most important in the episode simply because it takes the tension that has been building and for a time makes it dissipate. It allows the characters space to breathe. Professor Hu’s light-hearted nature brings us some much-needed humour at a time when Flayvus being a goofball wouldn’t work. The sequence works because it is just long enough to hit the strokes it needs to, but without taking too long or causing the episode to drag.

Yes…
anyway.
*Ahem*

That is my alias here. I teach the villagers how to use the Artificial Coins to their fullest potential; it’s partially why the place is still surviving.

Professor Hu / Marius

There’s still so much to learn about them, and–

Jinsei’s interruption here of Marius is good because it shows his state of mind. His clenched fist and the thrown question “… Why did you disappear?” suggests he is angry, and perhaps feeling deceived by his uncle. It is a great call back to the previous episode where he notes how close he was to his uncle. Marius represents the only adult, besides his father who has supported Jinsei, who Jinsei has trusted for most of his life. Given that Nina was his maid, it suggests that for much of his childhood, Jinsei and Sumire were left alone. (Though there may also be others who were present.) Even if there were, Marius was shown to being one who brings himself down to the child’s level, he wasn’t a looming giant. With his goofy side, it is not unsurprising that he would have meant a lot to Jinsei. So his disappearance and assumed death would have had a profound impact on Jinsei.

The look on his face, the gritting of his teeth all speak of the pain he felt at Marius’ absence. The close up of Marius shows a slight frown and possibly guilt in his eyes.

I’m so sorry, Jinsei… I wish I had a better reason to tell you. But I think you deserve a thorough Explanation.

Marius

Marius’ Resolve

This panel is the first of a sequence that is truly a beauty to behold. Starting with the guilty poised Marius as seen above, it shows him looking at his hands as it transitions, his hands are falling away as red intercepts into the image, the debris form a cobra with a spirit coin in its mouth. It symbolises that what is to come was wrought by his hand. The red that outlines the serpent initially give an impression of blood. The blood that is on Marius’ hands. When it meets the Serpent’s head the red has transitioned from defining the Serpent to being it. We learn that Marius was researching Spirit coins in a desert and discovered the ancient Spirit Coin Apophis. Named after the Ancient Egyptian serpent of the same name. In the myth, Ra would battle Apophis – the ancient spirit and embodiment of evil, darkness and Destruction – and its horde as he travelled through the underworld.

Apophis’ discovery in a desert gives the impression that like the myth, it is associated with death and the underworld. A desert right or wrongly is often seen as lifeless a place where the sands consume history, where ancient civilisations are consumed by the dunes and life is both harsh and scarce. Given that the Spirit Coins we have seen thus far have generally been associated with living places the inclusion of Apophis gives us an interesting peek into the nature of the Spirit Coins and the gods associated with them.

Artificial Coin Technology was still in early development stages, but I believed if we tapped inot the Spirit Coin’ source of power, it would help provide energy for the Artificial Coins.

The Goal was to be able to make Artificial Coins strong enough to support our declining world.

We tested this process of Withdrawing Energy from other Spirt Coins…

And successfully did not damage them.

After that, We decided to move onto using Apophis with new gauntlets manufactured by the empire.

Infusing Apophis’ power into multiple gauntlets, we eequipped other Spirit Coins onto it to see if they could channel Apophis as a source of Energy.

The Power was indescribable

This sequence shows the true horror behind what happened to Jinsei’s father. The black consuming energy and the ominous red glow all point to the power of Apophis. Somehow it corrupts the user. It explains why the Emporer told Jinsei and Katsurou to get away from him. Why perhaps, he drove Jinsei’s sword into himself. He knew what his fate would be, he had witnessed it before, with these experiments and it is perhaps also why the Emperor suffering this fate is karma. The question to my mind though is exactly why they needed such power in the first place?

Looking at the experiments, the Emporer, General Rhylus and General Marius have two very different reactions. It is difficult to discern General Rhylus’ reaction, but the turn of his face would suggest disappointment. The Emporer is shocked, but he seems to hold little regard for the soldier who was obliterated. Both stand stark against the sheer horror of Marius. His face is twisted at what he has beheld. But beyond this, when looking at both, while the red Apophis aura is present around all three, it is much more prevalent with Rhylus and the Emperor. Marius, while is in contact with it, has a background of most blue. If the red is seen as corruption or seduction, it is easy to see how Rhylus and the Emporer have been seduced by the power of Apophis. Their reactions following this pannel further cement this notion. Marius wanted to cease the project, the Emporer and Rhylus wanted to continue believing the power could be contained. The panel that accompanies this is ominous. A red coin swamped in black energy and weakly flickering a red glow clatters to the floor near a boot. It is all that remains of the young soldier who had tried to use it.

If used right….

… one could control these gauntlets to their advantage.

If I ever had any doubt that I wouldn’t like Rhylus this is all the confirmation I need. I remember taking an immediate dislike to him early on in the season when he was persuading Sumire to believe Jinsei committed regicide. I’m certain we will see more of him in the future. I’ll not be happy if he corrupts Sumire, Katsurou or Saz.

But I refused.
My brother questioned my loyalty to him and the Empire.

I could only watch as the power he sought slowly corrupted him.

There is something really sad about this situation. Marius having to watch a brother he was close to slowly be corrupted. You can really feel the weight of these words. They balance well against the relationship that Jinsei revealed in the previous episode. It makes me realise how much forethought Kristina has put into the plot and character relations.

After mre resistence, he threatened to even imprison me, as i was getting too much in the way of this project.

Marius

So I fled

Marius

Back in the present, our first panel is of Marius back, Jinsei and Seven. There is a really nice lighting detail – showing the cracks in the hut roof – it’s a small detail but one that makes the panel really shine. The small shafts of light and the overt shadows give a sense of gloom around the group. But it also suggests that there is some hope.

The closeup of Jinsei and cos faces shows the uneasiness they feel at Marius revelations. Seven being the only one to not seem shocked by the story Marius has told, suggests they have heard it before. To Seven this is not a new revelation, but it is a reaffirmation of what is at stake.

As your father saw the Apophis coin as pure power, I saw something darker dwelling in that spirit.

I now believe that the Apophis Gauntlets… have the ability to corrupt Spirit Coins.

Kanaes hesitance to utter “corrupt” suggests either she does not believe Marius or she fears it is true. Given that the empire has both the Punavasu and Katsurou Coins in their possession her reaction is not unexpected.

… Yes

Father had it back then. And now, Sumire may also…

Jinsei

We Must retrieve the Katsurou Spirit Coin from the empire, Jinsei.
I belive that coins power is the lkey to overcoming those Corrupted Coins…. and you, Jinei, are the only one that can use that coin.

Marius

Marius

This gives me major chosen one vibes, which is not a bad thing. I love the detail in this image the swirling chains at first glance appear to be binding Jinsei until you realise they are breaking and the cause is the Katsurou Spirit Coin he is holding. It is symbolic of the chains that hold Jinsei back, of him overcoming the things that have held him back and perhaps accepting himself. I can’t help but think that Sumire may not survive her use of the Gauntlet or if she does, there will be deep, deep ramifications. I wonder the same of the other generals using regalia. If the gauntlets they use are also channelling Apophis’ power then there could come a time where they face a grisly fate. Episode 37 ends with Marius proclaiming his faith in Jinsei.

Because Jinsei, I know that you can lead the new world….

Once you take back your rightful place on the throne.

Marius

Episode 37 is a powerhouse of revelations balanced with some humour. It shows the dark path the empire has taken, the ramification of its actions and the shed some much-needed light on the death o Jinsei’s father. I find I am more than ever convinced that Jinsei did not murder his father, no I am certain that the Emporer impaled himself on Jinsei’s sword to spare himself from a fate he had inflicted on thousands of others. I am beginning to think that perhaps, Katsurou is a guardian of the empire, or at the least, a guardian of the royal line. One thing I can say is that this season is really heating up and I am really looking forward to seeing where it goes.

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