Rating: 4 (of 5)
Even for a series which is firmly focused on strategic thinking, devoting nearly an entire episode just to one long conversation is a bold move. It requires a special kind of dynamic to be able to pull that off without it getting boring, and few shows that have tried it in the past have been up to the challenge. (The one shining success story that I can think of is the second episode of Spice and Wolf, and even that may not work if you don’t find the interplay between Lawrence and Holo to be involving.) Episode 15 pulls this off better than most.
This happens primarily because nearly everything discussed is directly relevant to what’s going on in the series. The negotiation between Kazuta and Jeanne carefully lays out what’s at stake for both parties and how the resolution of the matter can affect not just the parties immediately involved but also the whole region. The Gran Chaos Empire cannot afford to ignore Elfreiden’s invasion of Amidonia (even if it is punitive) if it wants to maintain the greater treaty, while Elfreiden needs assurances that returning Julius to power won’t just result in him trying the same stunt as his father down the road. There’s also the matter of Elfreiden (who has yet to sign the treaty) working covertly rather than overtly with the Gran Chaos Empire in the future and how that can benefit both sides. How other surrounding countries might respond also has to be considered.
The resolution of the Amidonia matter does not require the full time, however, hence allowing some other points to be explored. Jeanne once again shows how remarkably practical she can be with the discussion about eating monsters, but that light-hearted moment leads to the more interesting discussion about how the relationship between monsters and demons may be thought of as akin to the relationship between people and animals, and further, how demons don’t seem to differ much from the other demi-human races. I have to respect how thoroughly the writing it thinking through the consequences of such an observation should it be disseminated to the public. This whole matter may not be the main point here, but it is an observation that I expect will be of great significance to the story down the line.
Ultimately, the resolution of the matter is the kind of thing that can only happen when all parties involved are sensible one. Jeanne continues to impress with her composure, only really losing it briefly with her wildly-reaching proposal about Kazuya joining the Gran Chaos Empire instead. The visual effort here also deserves at least some credit for preventing the main scene from ever feeling too static, despite the fact that all but the last couple of minutes of the episode take place in the same room. In fact, that may be the most impressive part of the episode.
As good as this was, I look forward to seeing the series move on to something else next episode. Perhaps exploring why the name “Divalroi” seems so familiar to Kazuya? (Actually, I’ve heard from novel readers that this is a detail which shouldn’t be expected to come up again anytime soon.)