Just from animated content, we know that Ryu once lost everything – her whole familia – and that one particular rival familia was responsible. In retribution, she did everything she could to wipe out that familia – here identified as Rudra* Familia, a part of Evilus (mentioned not in this series but in Sword Oratoria) – and by her own admission she was ruthless about it. But words spoken in calm, reflective moments do not adequately convey the sheer intensity of what drove – and, as apparent here, continues to drive – Ryu Lion. All it takes is one survivor from Rudra Familia for her to lose her composure, and evidence in this episode suggests that he’s either not the only one or else has some new allies.
Jura admits to having once been a part of Rudra Familia but claims he’s reformed. That’s so immaterial to Ryu that she’s even willing to strike down Bell – her acknowledged ally and the love interest of the person currently most dear to her (Syr) in order to get at him. That puts the good-hearted Bell in quite the fix. Hermes tried to have him shown the dark side of humanity back in episode 12 of the first season, but Bell was able to overcome that challenge without really learning the lesson Hermes intended. He saw some of that in season 2, but Apollo Familia was driven by their god and the business with Ishtar Familia was still mostly in the wheelhouse of heroic storytelling. And the animus of humanity towards monsters in season 3 was understandable with the general populace and just baseline evildoing in the case of Dix and Ikelos Familia. But this is where a dark heart that cannot just be played off as baseline evil or under a heroic umbrella must now be confronted. Whether her intent is morally right or not, Ryu can claim a certain amount of legitimacy in her actions. This isn’t the case with Wienne and Loki Familia; he doesn’t know what’s going on here, so does he, as a prospective hero, have any right or responsibility to intercede?
That’s not the only thing going on here, either. Some strange and powerful critter with six eyes and a bodyform like a snake is also lurking about, making new tunnels, and unsettling Marie, who pops up again to help Bell out. There’s also the strange rumbles and tremors to consider, which do not line up with the kind of magic that Ryu uses. Something more is happening, and it’s a safe bet that Jura and the werewolf Turk are at the core of it. Is Ryu involved, too, or did she just stumble into a bigger scheme?
The technical front this time has both big pluses and big minuses. On the good side, the musical score is fantastic throughout in working to set the tone, with selections reminiscent of the Lord of the Rings movies or famous classical music pieces like “In The Hall of the Mountain King.” On the bad side, this episode uses a lot of animation shortcuts in its action scenes, more than we’re used to seeing with this series. That could be concerning if it continues, or a sign that the production team is saving up for the more dramatic fight scenes to come. General quality control also drops off a bit in places. Those concerns are why I am not rating what is otherwise a fine episode a notch higher.
Other Series I Am Following – Non-Isekai Fantasy and Supernatural Round-Up:
Vermeil in Gold episodes 1-10 – Quite probable that I will give this one a full review when it wraps for the season, since it isn’t getting episode reviews over on ANN. So far it’s proving to be a competent but not exceptional Magical Girlfriend-styled series set in a fantasy “magic school” environment.
Made in Abyss: The Golden City of the Scorching Sun episodes 1-9: I feel like an entire book could be written delving into the subtexts, symbolic meanings, and general nastiness of this entry, and I’m not sure that I am the right one to do it. While not quite as compelling as the first series, it is nonetheless utterly fascinating even when being thoroughly gross.
Call of the Night episodes 1-9 (I have not yet seen episode 10 as I write this): Maybe the series this season most-suited to episode-to-episode analysis. Not really what I originally expected, as it has remained remarkably analytical about the actions and motivations of its core cast, but it has remained fascinating in a completely different way than Made in Abyss.
Engage Kiss episodes 1-9: This one I will almost certainly be doing a full write-up for when it finishes, so I will reserve most comment for then. It’s another Magical Girlfriend-style series, but with a nastier twist and some bigger structural issues.
* Rudra was a Vedic god associated with storms and hunting. Associating him with forces of evil here is definitely the author using dramatic license.