I oddly enjoyed this episode. Not a whole lot, mind you. Let’s not get crazy. I’m just saying that overall the episode kinda came out on the positive end of things. Yes, I’m mildly surprised too. It still has the same ol’ Juuni Taisen issues we’ve been railing about all season, but Rat’s “Hundred Paths” power is kind of fun to see in action. But let’s get the problematic bits out of the way first. Big spoiler: Rat wins. His victory is not very climactic. To start at the beginning, Rabbit’s corpse manages to track Ox down. Quick question, though: if Rabbit only allowed himself to get killed in order to enslave his corpse afterward, then who’s in control anymore? A slave needs a master. The only answer that seemingly makes any sense is that he’s controlling himself, but… how? Eh, it’s too late now to really poke at the show’s logic. In any case, Ox loses because — surprise, surprise — he gets careless. This anime has a single trick, and it’s content to use it over and over. It turns out zombie Monkey is hiding inside Rabbit this entire time. In the middle of Ox’s duel with Rabbit, she comes bursting out and pins the former down. Since he couldn’t even free himself from one of Snake’s limbs, he’s pretty much doomed with all of Monkey on top of him.
Enter Rat. He even has Sheep’s super explodey bomb with him. Monkey is too busy keeping Ox down, and Rabbit has to put himself back together. Having someone burst out of your chest kinda puts you in a precarious position. Just ask Kane from Alien. Ox quickly realizes what awaits him. He doesn’t want to be turned into a zombie so he approves of Rat’s plan. For such a fearsome warrior, he kinda goes down easily in the end… but we’ve been saying that about EVERY. SINGLE. WARRIOR. Anyway, the bomb goes off and… well, that’s it. Rat wins. There’s no big fanfare or anything. Are the people watching this tournament even entertained? They have been busy betting their butts off, but do they even like what they just saw? Even Rat’s plan isn’t all that complex or suspenseful. He merely got lucky, a fact he even admits to later, but we’ll get to that soon enough. The only good part, I guess, is that the episode doesn’t get bogged down by a pointless backstory. I thought we would’ve gotten a glimpse into Ox’s past, but I guess that shared one with Tiger is all that he’s gonna get (I’m not counting that brief shot of him in civilian clothes in the ED). Hey, fine by me. None of the backstories have been any good, so if we can skip one, I’m all for it. Let’s skip both Rat and Rabbit while we’re at it. We haven’t learned a lick about those two either.
So Ox bores us with endless narration before going down like a chump. And now, the tournament is over. Not once in the entire series have we gotten a “brutal battle.” The animation is, of course, terrible. This episode features a lot of bloody zombie shenanigans, so naturally, the censors have decided to black out practically two-thirds of every scene Rabbit is featured in. What exactly is there to like about this episode? Well, the tournament’s organizer tries to engage Rat in a post-tournament interview, but our victor isn’t very accommodating. He begins to run through the myriad ways he could try to escape this situation. He sees, however, that every time he tries to refuse the interview, he gets killed. Hell, someone simply pushes Rat down a flight of stairs in one of them. As you can see, he is not very durable. In fact, he’s kind of pathetic if he can die from something like that. He just outlasts people. It’s like watching a shitty gamer abuse save states. Eventually, you’ll find the path of least resistance and come out on top. I kinda enjoyed this part of the episode though, because it’s at least unique. Nothing up until now has been remotely interesting. None of the other warriors’ powers are remotely creative.
(As a quick aside, I really hate the reference to Schrodinger’s cat. The point behind the thought experiment is that you can’t apply quantum theory on such a macro level, but whatever.)
But what now? Even though the tournament is technically over, we still have loose ends to tie up. Naturally, Juuni Taisen could always bore us to death with Rat’s backstory in the final episode. But hey, if we can skip Ox, then we can skip Rat too! What does Rat’s victory mean for the state of the world and its countries, though? Borders are going to be redrawn, right? Plus, what is Rat going to wish for? He’s not going to leave his buddy Monkey hanging, right? After all, he wouldn’t have won without her. He reveals that he found himself losing the tournament on almost every single path. His only chance of winning came from Monkey devising a contingency plan: if she was ever turned into a zombie, she wanted Rat to find Sheep’s bomb and kill her. But is Rat noble enough to save Monkey over, well, giving himself anything else his heart might desire? Plus, what is really the point of this entire show? If the only message is that, well, war sucks, I think we could’ve done a whole lot better. Oh well. One more week before Juuni Taisen can disappoint us for good.