Episode 6: Scroll II

“Scroll II” is remarkable for containing some of the most exceptional violence I’ve seen in anime. It doesn’t involve the silly head-exploding of Fist of the North Star or other more histrionic anime, but it has a singular brutality and viciousness, made all the stronger since Key tends to character driven. The fight between Wakagi and “D” is paced slowly so that each blow (and there aren’t too many) has impact, and so we can see what’s happening – it isn’t fast nor random, but tough. I like it.

There is a lot of violence in the typical anime, and most of it is of a rather random, impersonal nature – great big robots duking it out with each other or cops and robbers gun fights. One side wins the fight not through any clear advantage that the audience can see, but because they are declared the winner by fiat. Consequently, I find most fighting in anime boring since the victors are largely predetermined, thus the contest becomes mere padding.1 It’s another feather in Sato’s cap that he can direct a fight in this medium, and keep the blows keenly felt.

Key’s Idolatry is the main subject of this episode: she is called on by Prince Snake Eye to use her powers to save a young boy from a cancer. What’s astounding isn’t that she’s asked – it’s that it works. Key, like a sin-eater, takes the cancer upon herself and vomits it out.2 Again, we see the shrine in the woods, and Key there with her mother – meaning Key had a mother (or is she invented from Key’s imagination?). So it’s clear there’s some sort of magic in Key, and that she can use it on people as well as robots.

Something in all of this has to connect to the “gel” that powers the robots – in this episode we learn that this powering substance has to be extracted from living people. Thus the spark of life required to make robot’s go is really human juice. Which drives further the point that Ajo is one sick mammajamma, whose concern for his little puppets so outstrips his humanity that he murders to power them. Ajo isn’t creating life, he is transferring it from a warm body to a cold, unfeeling, mechanical one that is no less fragile.

1This is a real problem with a great deal of anime – the incessant combat that goes on until, for no good reason, somebody wins.

2One could argue it is blood or motor oil that she vomits, since I don’t think it’s explained explicitly. But people have a tendency to expectorate strange things in this anime – remember “D” and his ball-bearings, or marbles.
Rating :B+

About Kent Conrad

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