Episode Thirty-Eight feels like a calm following the storm of revelation that battered us in the last episode. It is one that leads us gently through without feeling heavy-handed. Where the last episode was relentless with its details moving quickly through a variety of moments – Thirty-Eight is singular in its design. We are given another small look into the emotional black cloud that has been swirling around Jinsei since episode one, a path forward and a reaffirmation of Jinsei and co’s motive and goals. It is a quieter episode, but one that packs just enough to balance out the rabid nature of its predecessor.

Episode Thirty-Eight Reaction

Opening with a recap from when last we left Jinsei; Uncle Marius had proclaimed his support for Jinsei and why he thought his nephew was the rightful ruler of the Empire. I have to admit, I have some questions around why he is not as supportive of Sumire, as technically she too is an heir to the throne. I’d like to think it may simply be due to Jinsei being older and not because he is male. Time will tell on this one. It may also be something to do with the Katsurou Spirit Coin and how it is connected to the Empire. Either way, its a question I hope gets answered.

Jinsei’s reaction to his Uncles support, tells us a lot about his current state of mind. He is horrified at the notion and does not hold back in expressing this.

I love the use of pose in this panel. Jinsei’s fixation on the ground and the sad look that seems to radiate from Marius speaks a lot about their feelings, but the most telling aspect is the slight hunch to Jinsei’s shoulders, it evokes the visceral weight of his past.

Jinsei’s reasons sum up the events that have defined him up to now. These are the burdens that form that weight that constantly drags him down. The things he must either accept or forgive himself for. While we still do not know entirely what happened on the day his father died, what we have seen, seems to indicate that Jinsei wasn’t to blame, but rather was caught up in a tragedy – albeit one the Emperor deserved. Perhaps. It is difficult to lay the blame on Jinsei for Katsurou being trapped in the coin as both seemed genuinely shocked when it happened. So I think the guilt is more around him losing Katsurou to the Empire. Even so, that pales in comparison the final reason. The clear calm look in his eyes as he speaks of the people closest to him to me is melancholic. This is the true essence of his burden, and is the thing he must forgive himself for: the hurt and disappointed he has inflicted on Sumire and Saz. It is a call back to the duel he and Saz fought in Season one, and the confrontation they had in Season two’s premiere. This is the feud that weighs heavily on Jinsei, one he takes blame for and one he is ultimately going to have to tackle. I have a sinking suspicion that the price of its resolution will be Sumire’s total corruption at the hands of General Rhylus and the Apophis Gauntlet.

I think that the one who is preventing the bond is Jinsei himself. Blaming himself for Katsurou being trapped into the coin and still seeing Katsurou as human when he is a spirit is causing the bond to between them to be weak and thus shuts the door between them. I wonder if the issue is that in order of the bond and the contract to be made, Jinsei will need to undergo a trial similar to that of Kanae’s by Punarvasu. But even more important is for Jinsei to see Katsurou as what he is: a Spirit. There is also the added possibility that Jinsei’s fixation on “Forging a bond” with the Katsurou coin, is interfering with his ability to forge the contract.

I’ve been here the whole time…. It seems a “door” has been shut between us in the spirit world. You need to open it and find me, Jinsei. We need to form a real contract…. So we can protect our friends.

Katsurou Speaking to Jinsei: Episode 31

It is possible that the door that Katsurou speaks of is that in a literal sense – the door the empire shut between them when they took the Spirit Coins. But it could also be a figurative door that Jinsei himself has shut – one only he can perhaps reopen by changing his approach.

The Coin chooses its Wielder… or does it?

I don’t know how much you know about Spirit Coins, Jinsei, But from what i’ve researched so far…

I really love this image. The reaching hands of Jinsei and Katsurou seem to be grasping towards the Spirit coin suspended between them. Katsurou’s cloth is falling down from the direction of Jinsei’s arm. While at face value we can interpret this as them both reaching for the Coin. I think its more than that. Katsurou’s red cloth represents his deep desire to help Jinsei – his encouragement. The coin that hovers between them, that makes it first appear as a struggle to gain it from the other, is instead a representation of the contract they both desire. Where this scene to fully play out, I suspect that it would not end with one grasping the coin over the other, but rather a unifying handshake with the spirit coin at the centre. Alternatively, it could be seen as Katsurious flicking his coin to Jinsei – indicated by the two folded and unfolder fingers. Either way, it is a representation of the trust and faith that Katsurou has in Jinsei.

And you, Miss Kanae… Were you able to successfuly acquire Punarvasu’s Spirit Coin?

I really like how these call back sequences are used. Season one’s finale feels so far away now and given the battle and capture by the empire, we were never really given time to dwell on Kanae’s acquisition of the Punavarsu coin. Since they were separated, we know that Jinsei has been in contact with Katsurou, but can the same be said of Kanae and Punavarsu? Looking back it is interesting that the Spirit Coin becomes a weapon. We can see from the end of Season one that Punavrsu itself did not become the weapon. This I think is a major clue in how the Spirit Coins work. To me, it would seem that they are a focal point for the connection between the wielder and the spirit – a physical representation of the power the Spirits provide. That the spirit chooses its wielder comes as no surprise to me. It seems the wielder has no mean of forcing the spirit coins to do anything unless of course, the Apophis Gauntlet does this.

The next panel is and interjection by Flayvus who accuses Marius of spying on them through Nina.

Of course, I had to make sure my nephew was okay. I didn’t know he’s pick up so many friends though!

Marius’ response.

This is another of those panels that just made me laugh. Jinsei’s deadpan face matched with the nervous grins of Flayvus and Kanae are prefect. The awkwardness is palpable. Chibi Marius is surprisingly cute too.

Katsurou’s Choice and his Dream

So are you saying….

Kanae

The shifting focus from Spirit coins choosing their wielders to why Katsurou choose Jinsei is a good move. It is one of the mysteries that has been poking about since season one. Katurou has a deep amount of faith in Jinsei, which is odd considering their background. In the events prior to the Emporer’s death, they appeared to be in opposition and yet, even then, Katsurou believed that Jinsei was the one who could build a better world. I think part of this is related to his reappearance in episode thirty-one. The elephant-sized question in the room, at least for me, is why choose Jinsei over his friends? Once his Spirit Coin came into contact with Kanae, he could have easily reached out and made a contract with her. But he didn’t and that speaks volumes.

Tell me… Kanae, Flayvys.

What does this Katsurou fella mean to you?

It’s a long story but–

Kanae

–He’s our friend.

Flayvus

I… Just want Katsurou’s dream realized.

He wanted to recover the old world… bring balance and peace between the Old and New.

Kanae, Episode 38

Given what we know, there is a lot to unpack in this sequence. Katsurou wanting to restore the Old world and bring balance between the old and new I think refers not only to the Empire’s colonialistic expansion but also to the theft of their spirit coins. If we look at an example of Colonial expansion: The British Empire. It is easy to see how the new World could be seen as culturally erasing the Old World by absorbing it. One of the lies that the British Empire told itself was that it was “civilising” the indigenous places it conquered. It would impose the Britsh culture on the places it took and while claiming to be a “benevolent” saviour, performed some of the worst atrocities. I can see this being true of Jinsei’s new world. The glimpses we saw of his past, shows his arrogance but also his naivety. He was shielded from the darker actions the Empire did, thinking his mission in Mapulehu was humanitarian in nature. That it was better for the native inhabitants to migrate to the empire. The true mission, as is of any empirical occupation was to migrate the resources of the subjugated area to the homelands. In the Old World, this seems to be the Spirit Coins. Katsurou’s dream is a worthwhile endeavour, but one that can only be achieved if the new world decides to change the path it is on.

Jinsei’s answer to Marius is to look away, eliciting a reserved, yet seeming satisfied look on Marius’s face.

Spirit Coins: The Risk of Corruption

Yes…. and no.

The corruption Process is complicated, so it’s unlikely they’re in danger of getting corrupted soon.

Marius

This sequence is important. It reaffirms what is at stake. Up until now, the focus was getting away from the Empire. Since then while they have learned a lot, the risk of the empire has diminished. At the same time, the need to divert the course of the Empire had grown, but it was very much framed as an “At some point.” this segment changes that. It makes tackling the empire much more important.

Seven’s Origin and Capability

The next panel shows a really cool hologram projected by Seven. It shows a map of a forest and the Lab building. Marius states that its hard to locate, but he will help navigate them through. I really love the detail in the hologram and the use of red to highlight the lab. It is fitting given that Spirit coins are red. We learn that General Rhylus is likely to be leading the Apophis Gauntlet project. I suspect this is not known by Sumire. Its also no coincidence that Rhylus was the one to convince Sumire that Jinsei was clearly a traitor – convinced her to not wait for an explanation. I look forward to seeing how this plays out.

One thing I am beginning to like about Marius is how forward-thinking he is. Given how little time he had from seeing Jinsei captured and Seven arriving to break him out, it makes me believe that Marius had planned for this eventuality. Given that he sent Nina to help Jinsei in the first place, suggests the additional programming Seven downloaded to Nina was a very recent creation.

Finally, we get some origin information on Seven and the androids. I like this segment because it really highlights the difference between Seven and Jinsei and serves as a reminder of their individual perspectives. As a former heir to the Empire, to Jinsei, the androids were objects that were used and then thrown aside. But to Seven, they are an individual a person. it is highlighted in Seven’s questioning on whether Jinsei is “always this ungrateful.” While it is true it can be seen as a mere reaction to Jinsei’s questioning and criticism of Seven’s reckless nature I think it very neatly shows the state of their relationship. To Jinsei, he likely meant nothing personal in calling out Seven’s methods, instead merely reporting on it as if Seven was defective. A habit from his time growing up highlighting the simple fact that he didn’t think to address his complaint to Seven directly, instead aiming them at Sevens percieved owner. He then muses on Seven being an older model, noting that he doesn’t remember seeing them while growing up with the other androids.

Good, because who’s want to take care of your whiny —

This is not the history I expected of Seven, but it explains their attitude. They were seen as defective, and then, thrown away. Given the diligence the over androids exhibit, to me, Seven’s attitude indicates the ramifications of what happened to them. Their trust in people was broken. It reminds me of how Seven referred to Flayvus when they encountered him in the cell.

It seems you’re useful. Come I’ll use you as my human shield

Seven to Flayvus, Episode 34

There is something really beautiful about these panels. Beautiful and haunting at the same time. Seeing the state Seven is in when Marius finds him, strewn atop a mountain of scrap. It is sad to me because it shows the path and the values of the empire. You are worth something as long as you can perform your function. Then you are mere scrap. As the panels move on we learn that Seven has still not fully recovered. that they still require some parts. The information is followed by a closeup of Seven’s cracked leg. Which given this leg was missing when Marius found Seven shows just how skilled Marius is. Though I do wonder where he manages to do his work, given that the village seems to lack the most basic facilities.

Absolutely love this bit and totally agree, you can’t just go asking someone is genderless. They are who they are and that’s all there is to it. (At least that’s how I see it) Seven’s blunt response made me laugh. Lucky Seven. Oh, how I love Flayvus’ character. The next panels give us some information around Seven’s capability, nothing that we haven’t already gleaned from the previous episodes – but its inclusion is important because it reaffirms what we know in a way that isn’t unnecessary info dumps. The final set of panels is an amusing look at serious Marius and his assessment of Jinsei’s and Co’s Fighting ability.

I absolutely adore the matrix vibe of this final panel. The way the light shines onto the wooden steps is really effective. It gives a sense of hope and mystery. Though I do wonder where Marius got all these coins from. It is a beautiful final panel though.

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