Contains spoilers for Season One and Season 2 of Cape of Spirits. I highly recommend you read up to episode 32 to avoid spoilers. A spoiler limited review of Season one can be found here.
Episode 32 is an interesting affair. It does little to progress the current plight of our protagonists, but it does a lot to fill in the mysteries around them and further examine key relationships. Opening to another musical score by the immensely talented Sophism. The sad and reflective tune, different from those found within episodes 30 and 31 is a melody filled with the melancholy and regret. The first panel a clean slate of white, a remnant from the end of episode 31.
We see Saz glance over his shoulder and the widening eyes of a shocked Jinsei, who stands against the wall. For the first time, he looks almost afraid. Then we see the speaker, Jinsei’s sister, the empress herself. Up until now, we have only heard of her, the image that has been painted is of a ruthless almost tyrannical leader. This image is all but shattered by her entrance. Her design is an elegant combination of motifs that give us a great deal of information. Her most striking feature is her long, voluminous golden hair. A stark reminder of her connection to Jinsi. She wears a sleek blue gown embellished with a golden inverted crown-like sunburst on her chest. A semi-translucent cape embellished with a vinelike pattern that is reminiscent of the royal french lily pattern. She wears a matching mask across her face, that obscures her eyes. She is bathed in golden light from the doorway as she enters flanked by her guards. It is a striking image of power and uniform, one that is only lessened by her youthful countenance.
Saz. I would like to speak to my brother alone.
Her words are not those I would expect from an Empress facing a traitor. They are simple and seem much more akin to a request than a command of an Empress. That she refers to Jinsei as Brother is interesting. It suggests that she hasn’t quite come to believe that he has committed regicide, or perhaps it is simply she knows a plausible reason why he would. Saz’s response is to glance at an uneasy Jinsei before leaving with a “We’ll be right out the door.” A curious choice of words that I think obscures something. At this point, however, I cannot deduce what that might be. The proceeding shot is of Sumire’s resolute back, her gaze fixed on her bother.
Though Jinsei attempts to speak to Sumire he is abruptly cut off. There is an uneasiness in his countenance, a nervous drop of sweat that in comics and animation is usually used indicative of unease. For the first time since seeing his sister, Jinsei’s eyes are focussed.
Sumire’s direct words tell us much about her state of mind. She is not convinced her brother did kill the Emperor, or she wishes for any explanation other than that he did. The next panel shows Jinsei lower his eyes. Though whether this is an admission of guilt or merely protocol is unclear. We do not know enough to make this assertion.
The Sword coin that we found embedded in his body. It was Yours. Was it not?
There is a change to Sumire in this pannel, she has drawn the veil from her eyes and her face is set in grim determination, tinged with disgust. The fierce change in her countenance from moments before to me is a direct reaction to Jinsei averting his gaze. It has given her confirmation of something she did not want to admit.
The scene cuts abruptly away. We see Jinsei as he stabs his father. We see the shock and horror on his face, the blood-spattered blade of his sword held by his father and a closeup of his father’s face. There is a curious juxtaposition between the shocked look on Jinsei’s face and an almost satisfied smirk on his father’s. The closeup of the blade impaling his father is interesting also. First, it is unclear where the blade was impaled. It could be a leg, it could be his gut. But one thing that is clear, at this point, his father is very much alive and confident. His face betrays no sign of the pain he is enduring, bar the gritting of his teeth. I can’t quite decide whether his expression is satisfied or not. This makes me wonder if the scene is, in fact, showing the Emperor’s death at all. I can surmise from the shocked look on Jinsei’s face, the black shadowy smoke that seems to be encroaching on the Emperor and the way the Emporer is gripping the sword that perhaps Jinsei did not murder his father at all. We are yet to uncover what is truly happening in this scene but there are three certainties. First Jinsei is shocked by something, be this the strange transformation that seems to be happening to his father, second, the Emporer is either confident or satisfied, possibly both, but we do not know why, third the Emporer is gripping Jinsei’s sword. From a first glance standpoint, it would seem he is trying to prevent Jinsei from stabbing him. However, his gloves are not torn and the angle of his hands, the tension in his grip to me suggests that perhaps it is the emperor who drove Jinsei’s sword into himself. That would beget the question of why.
During season one’s finale (episode 30) we saw this scene play out, all be it differently. Jinsei and Katsurou were facing the emperor together. While they had their weapons drawn they are shocked by the state he is in. The black smokey liquid is consuming his body and dripping to the floor. The Emporer is down on one knee, his Regalia driven into the ground and his hand still on the hilt. The black liquid-smoke seems to emanate from his glove. Curiously he tells Jinsei and Katsurou to “Stay back,” given his confident countenance and the condition he was in, this would suggest he did not see Jinsei or Katsurou as an enemy and while the “right” from Jinsei and subsequent panels suggest that Jinsei did commit regicide, when considered alongside the subsequent scene in episode 32 the clarity is muddied. But I think there is enough to give credence to the theory that the Emperor drove Jinsei’s sword into himself. The reason why is connected to what was happening to him. One thought is perhaps if the idea that Coins are made from people, he was being transformed into one, only it went wrong, or perhaps he was found unworthy of holding his regalia. I will look forward to seeing how this mystery unravels.
I had no choice.Jinsei.
The pose Jinsei adopts in this panel is interesting. His gaze is lowered, his shoulders braced. The pose is interesting as it highlights very well his emotive state. His lowered gaze suggests guilt and shame while his braced shoulders suggest frustration and anger, the latter being emphasised further by the following panel showing him digging his nails into the palms of his hand.
Whether you believe my reasoning or not doesn’t matter anymore. I bear full responsibility. But now that you are Empress, Sumire… I fear for your safety. Don’t trust anyone, for now.Jinsei.
Jinsei’s words and his appearance in the panels indicate, as I have suspected, that there is more to this than meets the eye. Most striking is that not only is he taking full responsibility for what has happened but his first instinct is not to lash out at his sister but to counsel her. His posture strikes me as genuine and knowing what we do of his character, it is clear he is not the type of person to use honeyed words to manipulate people. Jinsei is usually direct in his meaning or he refuses to fully explain his position. From this, we can surmise that the care and concern for Sumire’s wellbeing is genuine. Which then raises the question, given that he is accepting being accused of flagrant Regicide, what exactly is motivating him to be so obtuse. Why won’t he tell her what happened? What does he gain from alienating her further? What can he be trying to protect her from?
If ever there was an indicator that more is going on than Jinsei has revealed, his final words in this panel are telling. He is searching for the truth. The truth of what I assume happened to his father, what was causing the transformation we have partially seen. Given what we know, there is the added complication that someone, beyond Jinsei (assuming he did), has betrayed the Empire.
Even if Jinsei has a genuine concern for his sister. The subsequent panels make it clear it has fallen on deaf ears. His sister’s outburst brings the bubbling anger, the disbelief and all the feelings she has harboured to the surface. Ironically in trying to counsel his sister, Jinsei has instead alienated her further. Or perhaps that was his intent all along?
You have no right to tell me what to do!….Have you any idea… The hell my mind has been through ever since we discovered Father’s Body?Sumire
The scenes that follow these words show the moment Sumire and Saz find the Emperor’s body. Jinsei’s sword protrudes from the Emporer’s corpse. A pale turquoise blade against a dark backdrop of red and black. It is bloodless and for some reason reminds me of The sword in the stone, this may be to do with the angle and design of the sword more than the events that are being shown. We are greeted by a close up of Saz holding a distraught Sumire back and then a close up of Saz looking at the what I assume is the Emperor’s body a grimace on his face. His purple eyes radiate an intense look.
“My Brother couldn’t have….” But you really betrayed us. so… what do I do now, brother? How do I… lead a nation …. with no family.
The magnitude of Sumire’s distress is palpable. Her isolation clear. She places a gloved hand on her chest and for the first time since their reunion, Jinsei moves from the back of his cell. Curiously, it is not to comfort his sister. Whose words, to me make clear that they had a strong bond prior to the events that tore their family asunder.
Sumire… that glove… take it off! Now!… It’s the same that fatehr was using –when his spirit coin–
The scene flashes to another look at the emperor, the black liquid dripping from his body and then flashes back to the present. Jinsei’s warning seems to confuse the empress. He tries to forcibly take the glove from Sumire only for Saz to intervene. Saz intrusion is angry and accusatory, only for Sumire to wave it off “I…Its Okay, Saz.” He then leads Sumire from the cell. Jinsei calls after him to protect Sumire.
Of course. I am bound by my honor to do so. But that’s something you don’t have do you?Saz to Jinse
I’ll eagerly await your trial, Jinsei
Saz’s response is not only curt but laden with the same energy as was in the previous episode. The closing of Jinsei’s cell door is just as telling. It feels symbolic of a line being drawn, of old friends seizing battlegrounds, but all doors closed doors can be opened again. While he states he is eagerly looking forward to the trial, I should note that his face is the preceding panel was not one of joy but resignation and if the backwards glance is anything to go by there isn’t a trace of anger or hatred on his face. That he did not slam the cell door is interesting.
The next pannels show our silver boyo Flayvus waking up in what seems to be a medical laboratory. Nina is also present, though offline. There is no sign of Kanae however. The episode ends with Flayvus looking at Nina.
In a similar vein to episode 31, this episode is focused primarily on Jinsei and his tumultuous relationship with his sister and to a lesser extent Saz. Their relationship given the circumstances comes across as a lot better then one would suspect. Sumire it seems is not yet fully convinced that Jinsei murdered her father and committed regicide. If anything she is quietly probing for answers while being reticent. Without seeing her character prior to this event it is difficult to unravel but one thing is clear. She is not the ‘evil empress’ that season 1 seemed to suggest she was. If anything, her quiet intensity suggests she is a woman who will seek out the truth. While her behaviour seems at odds with the situation. I wonder if there was another reason for her visit. Perhaps she knew Jinsei would not commit patricide without absolute need. Her interaction is mellow and I cannot help but suspect there are hints in her mannerisms that are coded for Jinsei to read. Something beyond what we know is going on and this episode, to me at least is a foundation. Though Sumire had a couple of outbursts, there seems to be some choreography to her movements. The final question that springs to mind is why did Jinsei react as he did to the glove at the end when she raised the same glove to her face when she removed the veil? Is this a code between them? One that only close siblings would know? Or perhaps the most obvious answer is the shock at seeing her meant he did not initially recognise the glove. This answer feels highly unlikely given the reaction he had at the end of the episode. That reaction was not one from someone who only vaguely remembered what the glove looked like, but rather had every detail of it burned into his memory. It is difficult to decide whether she is an enemy or not. Time, of course, will tell.
The Saz sections of this episode pique my interest even more than the previous. While he too has had some outbreaks and accuses Jinsei of having no honour, I cannot help but wonder if this too is a code. I cannot help but feel his final glance at Jinsei was one of worry a contradiction to the words he had said moments before. The slow closing of the cell door is also a good indication of not only his mood but also his feelings towards Jinsei. On a final Saz note, I couldn’t help but notice that he is present in the pixel art at the bottom of the episode alongside Jinsei and our hero’s. I feel this is significant, somehow. Though I haven’t checked, I am pretty certain that I have only seen the heroes present in the pixel art. It may mean nothing, but there is a chance it is foreshadowing something. I will readily wait and see.
I am pleased to see cheeky boy Flayvus alive and well. There is not much to say about him for this episode, only that he seems to have made a miraculous recovery and I look forward to his shenanigans hopefully in the next episode!