Posted on 19 October 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Juuni Taisen

I’m starting to worry about Juuni Taisen. Like what we all predicted last week, this week indeed follows a reverse zodiac order. We have Chicken served as our main POV and at the end she’s the one who get sendoff (with no small help from the episode title. What a huge spoiler). Judge by the quality of the episode alone this week it is a solid one, but for the show about a bunch of badass warriors fighting against each other, “predictable” is its worst nightmare, for when you know who would be the next to die then half of the fun is gone. It doesn’t help that the two most likely fighters to win this tournament are Bull and Rat, respectively, so we could very much follow that reverse pattern here. Knowing Nisio Isin, I would argue that this trend is going to break soon, but as the same time I am slightly disappointed that we got basically what we expected this week. Another worrying trend, is that I used to consider the cast of Juuni Taisen a well-balanced gender cast, but when we look into it, the female cast was only half of the size of the male, and now half of our girls already became the meat for those nasty crows. The male fighters have been overwhelming so far and I’m quite sad that Juuni Taisen doesn’t use this opportunity to power up their female cast. Out of other two female warriors, Tiger doesn’t pose much of a threat, at least not yet. We don’t know much about her apart from she has a grudge against the Bull and her inability to resist the alcohol urge (which is actually charming, by the way), and Monkey who should-be-dead if they still follow that formula. Not a promising sign at all.

Fortunate enough, even with all my complaints above, I still consider this episode a successful one. Our main character of this week, Niwatori the Chicken has a proper character arc and as the episode end, I was genuinely invested about her arc. The trick here is fleshing out her character just about enough.  The first half deals with her flashback, tell us the backstory of Chicken before she was even the Chicken. That flashback doesn’t necessary explain why she got the power, but more about her state of mind. Apparently killing her own parents by the egg topper (boy, do they take “Killing by Pecking” to a whole new level), she was raised by the Niwa family and became their soldier. I can’t help but laugh with the fact that this girl was actually in the battlefield with not a gun, but a spading fork and she still kicks ass. One thing to note that due to her dark past and the way she was raised by the Niwa family, deception is her game and as she becomes better at her job, she can’t tell friends or foes anymore. Guess I was giving the Boar to much credits, since this episode what remains of her was eaten away by the birds. It’s a cruel way to kill an already dead warrior, Chicken.

Back to this Battle Royale, it was her game all along to trick the Dog for an One-Man Army kick (which she herself curiously regards it as ‘doping’. Well, she’s right), and since her physical strength is boosted to the max, suddenly she has a good shot to win this race. What she doesn’t expect though, the doping making her emotionally affected as well. This is where she becomes interesting because the Chicken acts totally opposite to the way she’s supposed to do, “act against her type” so to speak, making her vulnerable but totally relatable. Meeting up with Rat and Monkey who trusted her and gave no caution towards her (although I bet both the Rat and the Monkey are strong enough to protect their owns), Chicken betrays her usual act and ends up not only parting ways with them (while the best course of action is just playing along), she winds up in the wrong place at the wrong time. I really like the way the actual fight is short and sweet, just by a mere seconds it’s clear who gets the short straw. Her “giving away her body for the birds” (maybe her only true friends) really hits the right note and I am sure the Chicken is gaining up fans as we speak now. Despite my issues with the on-going plot, Nisio always demonstrates that he cares for his characters and thus, willing gives time to develop them properly. I’m sad that Chicken is gone now and now with basically half of the cast is gone (counting the Horse, but again if I don’t see him dead I still have my doubts), I’m sure the race will take quite a turn next week as Monkey takes up the spotlight. Just one thing, don’t give any damn spoiler in the title, could you Juuni Taisen?

As of now,

Deaths: Snake, Boar, Dog, Horse (maybe), Chicken

Favorites to win: Bull, Rat, Monkey, Rabbit, no-one

Posted on 14 October 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Juuni Taisen

A Battle Royale anime is something that have been done numerous times before: Mirai Nikki, Btoom!!, last year’s Magical Girl Raising Project… It’s such a delicious meal that it’s hard not to have fun when players try to outsmart the others or think of a creative way to kill each other. Juuni Taisen so far fulfill that concept successfully. Nothing deep yet but what this show excels is the memorable casts and the unpredictability of plots. Two episodes in, Juuni Taisen manages to catch us off guard twice, last week with the revealing that Rabbit – Usagi (for the sake of consistency I will use the animal name for characters – but will mention their Japanese name when I first introduce the characters) is a necromantist and this week with the Dog – Dotsuku suddenly gets his face smashed, in mere seconds. Now, many of you might think that the deaths have a pattern: a reversed Zodiac order: first the Boar, now the Dog. It certainly helps as well that the title of the next episode “Cutting a Chicken with a Beef Cleaver” might mean that this is the end of our Chicken – Niwatori. Well, knowing Nisio Isin I don’t think that will be the case. If there is anything that makes the writer stand out amongst the rest of LN authors, it’s that he can manage to pull the rug out of our feet with satisfying results (the episode 4 of Katanagatari springs to my mind). In fact, the first warrior who died wasn’t the Boar, it was the Snake  – Ani, so it pretty much breaks the pattern.

Second, I believe the reverse order could be served as a narrative order. That I think explains the focus on those characters and if that is the case, the next episode will be dedicated to our Chicken. Not to say that this episode she hasn’t already left her mark. Come to the first lesson in this Battle Royale: never underestimate your enemy. The Dog had his plan all figured out: the only warrior who already had an antidote to the poisonous gem, making him the safest bet if he can lay low. On top of that, he’s tricky because he let others think that he’s a mad dog, but instead he’s calculated and use his venomous fang as a weapon to kill enemy. Come Chicken, who not only spots him unguarded, but displays a wide array of inexperienceness that let his guard down. Her innocence is just too adorable. When it comes to the crucial point, as Dog using Chicken as a decoy by boosting up her power, she smashed his skull off in a flash. When you think about that, Dog and Chicken make quite a pair, consider that their mottos aren’t all that different (Killing by Biting and Killing by Pecking – you all have to use mouth here). Question is, is it an impulsive act from Chicken because of the non-lethal drug kicked in or does she plan it all along? After all, letting herself bitten by the Dog wasn’t a wise decision at all.

Meanwhile, Rabbit team keeps marching ahead and the other team: the peaceful one, consists of Monkey – Shuryuu and Rat – Nezumi lay real low down the underground. It was Monkey who brought down the floor, but the person needed to be taken seriously is the Rat. He has an eye for details and he leaves all the other players the vague sense of déjà vu. Whoever this guy be? Monkey with her ceasefire approach could be the main development point for this series, so I expect this team won’t be killed anytime soon. Speaking of the one who was killed, the flashback from the Boar – Inounoshishi last week had me puzzled: We didn’t see her sister’s death. Or more on point, we even didn’t see she stabbed herself. My point being there could be something more than meet the eyes here. Maybe she saves her sister at last minute? Thus I believe her act is far from over so there might be some twists that bring her back to the game? Boy, I’m sure excited.

Not that these first two episodes don’t have its hiccup. First, there is a convention that whenever a character displays their strategy, or they have some character’s development, they’d be the one killed. So far, Juuni Taisen embraces that convention neatly (the shock the show provided so far comes from the way they were killed, not from twisting about who would get killed). Second, unless they properly invest the relationship and tension between the twin brothers Snake and Dragon, I feel they wasted a spot for a powerful character here. They could have many interesting ways to create a memorable Dragon warrior, so I hope the older twin is badass enough for me to forget about this. The Dragon doesn’t seem to be emotionally affected by the death of his twin brother. But if the first episode is any indication, siblings killing each other is the norms around here. There certainly isn’t lots of fights consider the Battle-Royale concept, but it’s the kind of battle I’m looking for; and I’m sure glad they don’t shy on the body counts. Bring all you got here Juuni Taisen.

As of now,

Deaths: Snake, Boar, Dog

Favorites to win: Bull, Monkey, Rat, Rabbit, no-one.

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