The series is back for its second half, and picking up right where it left off: arranging to deal with the Gran Chaos Empire as it arrives in Amidonia with a large army, all to advocate on behalf of Julius in his attempt to regain control of Amidonia and the capital city of Van in particular – something that he claims Kazuya unlawfully seized. That sets the stage for an episode which entirely involves characters talking but is hardly without conflict.
Saying that a battle is taking place here despite no blows being struck would hardly be an exaggeration. The first part of the episode involves Kazuya adjudicating infrastructure within Amidonia, though with goals that are not just purely practical; he’s choosing bridges and then having them named after Elfreiden officials, with the goal of goading Julius into destroying them upon a return to power and thus riling up the locals against him. This is just the long-term aspect of going on the (verbal) offensive in the upcoming meeting with Julius and the Empire, represented by Jeanne. There he pulls no punches in poking at Julius while also arguing, with documentation, that Amidonia did well more than just invade in trying to destabilize Elfreiden. Jeanne seems to realize what he’s doing, as she never loses her composure as Kazuya systematically maneuvers Julius out of the negotiating picture. In fact, the only times Kazuya seems out of his element is when he briefly has to make small talk and does not correctly understand the full extent of a summoned maid’s inclination to mess with Julius while keeping him occupied.
The more I see of her, the more I like Jeanne as a character. She’s caught in the middle of the situation here but doesn’t flinch or hesitate in keeping Julius on a short leash and never loses her composure. (She also looks more convincing than most in her heavy armor.) Empress Maria is well-represented by Jeanne. Kazuya isn’t going to be able to manipulate her with practicalities as he has so many others, so I look forward to seeing the conclusion of their negotiations next episode. Juna also looks good in her navy uniform (with pants!), too.
On another note, who or what exactly is Albert and his queen talking about at the beginning of the episode? They’re certainly suggesting that something like this has happened before, only this time it’s more successful? More seems to be going on here than was originally apparent. . .