Episode 13: Night Gave Way To A Brand New Day

Jubei-Chan‘s end is a lie. A particularly stupid one, too. It finishes with a wholly maudlin, entirely manufactured emotionalism that is not justifiable by what has gone before. While some good things precede it, the ending of the show feels so forced that it’s hard to give it any good marks at all.

We start with a sword fight, always good, I suppose – between Shiro and Jubei, and later between Jubei and Sai, who lets the evil Ryujoji spirit into himself so he can rescue his daughter. This leads to some confusion as to the purpose of the Jubei’s spirit: Yagyu exists in order to defeat the Ryujoji school. And the Ryujoji school, who wants to take over the world, cannot do it until Jubei is defeated. Is this for practical reasons, or pride? That’s not clear. What is also unclear is Jubei’s attitude toward Jiyu. Up until the previous episode, the spirit seemed beneficial. But now it is on a fast track to destroying Jiyu, and the spirit doesn’t care. But in earlier visual we saw the older “Jubei”-Jiyu cradling the spirit of Jiyu, like it were a maternal figure.

The point of all this speculating is that I don’t think Daichi and the other makers of this show have the slightest idea what they’re doing. They’re cobbling together disparate elements and hoping that if they throw anything in our face we will take it. There’s very little external logic to be applied here – what happens at the end of the big fight may make some sense inside the story, but it feels very insular and disconnected from the real world. Since the show has also been working hard to distance itself emotionally from us(which I’ve gone on about ad nauseum in previous entries) I can only assume they had run out of ideas, and decided if they have enough pregnant pauses, we’ll pretend we know what’s going on so as to not look stupid.

But compare the feeling you get from when Sai rescues his daughter with Shiro breaking free of the spirit on his own. He does so right before he plunges his sword into Jubei’s breast – because he looks at her breasts and remembers how much he liked them. Of course, he’s too embarrassed to tell about that later. Going nuts over a girl’s chest is something that we can all relate to (I’m talking to the guys right now, ladies) much more closely than the metaphysical soul battle that comes later.

That’s not the lie, though. The lie is how weepy everyone gets when Koinosuke rises to his great reward. Jiyu cries about it, Sai is upset, everybody wants him to stay. Bull, I say. Nobody except for Jiyu liked him until that moment. But Daichi wants you to feel something at the end of the show, so he tries to force the moment.

Not only does that make this episode one of the weakest of the series, since it tries to undo all the emotional distancing that went on before, it is also one of the worst last episodes I’ve seen. Except for maybe the very end of the last Tenchi Universe episode, I haven’t seen any anime show so willfully clueless about why we’ve liked the show. They could have used a little of the satiric edge the show has kept buried under the surface, but instead they chicken out.
Rating :C-

About Kent Conrad

To contact Kent Conrad, email kentc@explodedgoat.com