– Spoilers Ahead –
If nothing else, this episode proves there’s really not a lot I can expect out of Juni Taisen in the long run. It’s entertaining enough to watch, but its writing is just too predictable and anticlimactic to really make me eager for it each week. I’ve been deluding myself for weeks now that it would actually turn around and be an amazing action thriller, but it just seems that is never going to happen.
So, as expected, Monkey and Sheep not dying in their respective episodes was simply a red herring. As this episode shows, Juni Taisen is almost certainly following reverse order of the zodiac, with the exception of Snake. Three warriors bite the dust this time: Monkey, Sheep, and Horse. And while I really can’t say chronologically that they follow the order of the zodiac, the episode structures it so that they do. And to be honest, I don’t have an issue with the deaths being predictable. What I do take issue with is how much wasted time there is because of these deaths.
Unless Sharyu (Monkey) pulls something wild, her entire scheme of saving many of the warriors amounted to nothing. Not that I expected it to accomplish anything, but it would have been nice to know exactly what she was planning before she took two blades through the tiddies. Then there’s Sheep, who took an entire episode to outline exactly how he planned to last longer in the game, only to get taken out in yet another OHKO (adding to Boar, Dog, and Rooster) by Tiger, the warrior he deemed weakest, before he could even try to enact said plan. Granted, it’s a nice looking attack, but it’s just over so quickly that it hardly leaves an impression. Why Sheep didn’t try to ally himself with her befuddles me, just like why he didn’t simply try to wait the game out like Horse and Dog. (While not detracting, the animal noises they make during their encounter are hilarious.)
Speaking of Horse, he walls himself up and ends up suffocating due to smoke produced by Snake’s flamethrower. His backstory is probably the weakest of any so far besides Dog’s, and his death, while creative, is yet another in a list of horribly anticlimactic deaths this show has produced. It’s one thing to off a few warriors in creative ways that don’t involve fighting, but it’s another to promise this grand violent battle and then either have characters die without engaging in actual fights or having the fights simply take up time, which is what the fight between Rabbit and Monkey does. All they do is trade blows for two episodes before Rabbit finally stabs her. Nothing’s gained in the process, and the fight is pretty lackluster itself. It’s simply there to kill time and mislead viewers into thinking there might be a chance Sharyu will survive. Yet another waste of time.
At least the animation is still fairly on-point. The fights, bland as they may be, still look nice, even if they are still lacking much in the way of creative choreography. And the lighting during Rat’s talk with Horse is well-done too, making Rat more and more mysterious.
Regarding Rat, it seems his ability may involve reading minds, as he answered Horse several times without Horse speaking. If so, it’s a wonder he did not learn of everyone’s intentions during the proposed peace pact initially. Or perhaps he did and was simply being shrewd. Whatever the case, his outlook on war and peace becomes a little more plausible in this episode, as he berates Horse for simply hiding out – deeming it the equivalent of being dead, just as a world at peace fails to move forward. It’s not a philosophy to agree with, but his arguments in this episode hold up more stronger than the ones during his debate with Monkey.
Juni Taisen is as unsurprising as a show can get, really. Even the twist with how Rabbit takes out Monkey, which was admittedly wise, fell flat due to the simple fact that we as viewers expected Monkey to die in some way (given the order of the zodiac). It’s the show’s overall premise working against it, as it has a limited time to show off these characters before sending them packing, resulting in rushed backstories and limited flexibility when it comes to storytelling. I’m still totally going to watch the show, if only because it’s decent enough mindless entertainment, but it’s not something I look forward to anymore like I did at the start of its run, which is a real shame because the show had a lot of potential that’s just being flushed down the toilet.