Episode 11: But The Path Curves Ahead

It finally struck me, why I’ve been having problems engaging Jubei-chan is a more thorough analysis and maintaining a positive opinion of the show – the show creates a great deal of distance between us in the audience and the protagonist. In this episode’s flashbacks, we see time and again Jiyu giving sage, life-changing advice to her friends. Is this wisdom new-found, or a result of her ordeal?

We can’t know, we can only assume, because we never get inside of her head. It is a weird narrative choice, leaving the central figure as so relatively distant. Though it makes a degree of sense for the narrative, since others reactions to Jiyu and Jubei is what the show is about1.

There are some funny things here – with Hajime being such a happy go-lucky character since leaving the Ryujoji dojo. Wacky things happen, but really, at this point the show’s humor is wearing thin on me, and since there aren’t any cool fight scenes in this episode (there is a fight scene, it isn’t very cool) it felt a bit boring. Again, the endless exposition sinks all of Koinosuke’s scenes. A little tip for people in all media – just because you acknowledge something to the audience, in this case Koinosuke essentially apologizing for the exposition, doesn’t mean you haven’t screwed up by doing it in the first place. There is a difference between satire and acknowledging laziness.

By the end of the episode, Jiyu’s dad is finally sussed to the fact that weird crap is going down, and there’s a setup for a final showdown, et. al. Here’s another tip, writers/animators/hangers-on: if you’re going to do a show about a girl coping with not only the stress of being girl, but with being the world’s greatest swordsman, let us know the girl a little more, because when the text completely takes over the subtext (as is often the case with concluding episodes, like these) and we aren’t personally involved with the text, well, you haven’t done your job.

1But isn’t it about a rift between two different schools of fighting and a girl becoming the greatest swordsman in history? I shake my head. No, no more than Cowboy Bebop is just about bounty hunters or is about big robots or Notorious is about uranium. Some crap is only about what it’s about (Chance Pop Session gave every indication that it was only about making it in the music business, though I only saw the first 5 episodes, before it entered its inevitable Russo-serious phase) but Jubei-chan actually has a smidgen of ambition. It doesn’t follow through in any enlightening way, but it is there.
Rating :B-

About Kent Conrad

To contact Kent Conrad, email kentc@explodedgoat.com