It’s been a while. Holidays and whatnot, plus the darn image loading problem on this site. I’m hoping to have that issue resolved soon and return to regular updates, but well, we’ll see. In the meantime, here’s the first of some backlogged reviews! (Of which these will be a little more condensed than usual as I try to play catch-up for the upcoming Winter season.)
Episode 7 of Juni Taisen grants insight into the lives of Snake and Dragon. Since Snake is already dead, this episode is a shared focus episode. And that does not do the show any favors.
On one hand, we have a present-time encounter between Tiger, zombie Snake, and Ox, which is much more interesting than the cobbled together story of two brothers engaging in some sort of thieving mission, the point of which is never really expanded upon. Honestly, that aspect of the flashback could have been done away with entirely to leave us with the two more meaty, but still dissatisfying snippets. First, there’s the brothers getting told they will represent the Snake and Dragon families at the Juni Taisen, which they are honored to do. But then the bombshell is dropped on them that there can only be one winner, meaning only one of them will survive, and the may be forced to kill one another. Now, that’s some serious foundation for engaging character narratives. But this show doesn’t care about that. This show just wants to show vignettes that help hammer home different ideologies of war. So it’s really no surprise when the brothers really don’t harp on this detail much, nor is it a gut-wrenching emotional scene during the second ‘meaty’ nugget of the flashback when the brothers arrive to the Juni Taisen only for Rabbit to prematurely take out Snake (inadvertently thanks to Monkey’s scheming). We’d expect Dragon to be shaken up, to get mad, to be torn apart by the loss of his brother. But he just accepts the loss without blinking an eye. As usual, Juni Taisen is its own worst enemy – shooting itself in the foot by ignoring the more engaging aspects of its story to focus on grand, and often hollow, philosophical puzzlers.
Back in the present, there’s the showdown between Tiger and zombie Snake, as well as Ox, who arrives a little late to the party. Judging by Tiger’s reaction to Ox, there’s some sort of history between them, apparently sour, so there’s some chance for character arcs yet, I suppose. Anyway, the last five minutes or so of this episode almost make up for the rest of it. We get a truly amazing scene at the very end, but a few WOW moments here and there are not enough to hold this series up in the long run. With characters dying left and right, it seems Tiger and Ox are the only remaining lifelines for this show, as they seem to be the only characters with anything interesting about them. The two of them are really going to have to knock it out of the park in order to save this show, which is just miring itself in its own fancies.
Also, if it wasn’t obvious before, this episode really drives one point home; Rabbit is absolutely, undeniably, freaking ripped. No one should be that muscular.