Well, I’ve been doing my best, but it’s time to acknowledge that covering this adaptation as someone very familiar with the source material is not the easiest or even the most fun of tasks, especially with episodes that skip as much content as this one. And it’s not just what was cut in this episode, all the stuff that’s already been skipped in the past is obviously still having an impact. For example, Makie returned in this episode, but with virtually her entire backstory having been omitted earlier on, the pathos of her character is just not there, and her actions verge on being entirely incomprehensible here, a sentiment which I’ve already seen echoed by multiple anime-only viewers who weren’t even sure what the deal was with her hand.
Basically, the deal was that she sewed it so as to mutilate and cripple herself to the point that she wouldn’t be able to wield a sword anymore, because her talent with it has only brought her unhappiness and misfortune in a world where women aren’t supposed to be warriors. She was born in a traditional samurai family and her brother committed seppuku after losing to her and realizing her talent far exceeded his. This led to Makie and her mother being disowned and becoming prostitutes.
Furthermore, the reason she went to Shirakawa, the (similarly gorgeous in real life) village shown in this episode, was to get revenge on her father for the suffering he inflicted on her mother and her. But when she found him, he was just a broken down old man, so she couldn’t go through with killing him and the whole incident just made her even more miserable. It’s why she tells Anotsu that she fails at everything — killing, hating, forgiving, etc. Their relationship is also far more complicated than is apparent here. She’s deeply in love with him, but thinks he only cares about her due to her talent, so crippling herself was another way of trying to cut herself off from him. But clearly he won’t let her go that easily.
Without knowing any of that, though, how is anyone supposed to truly care about Makie’s character and her relationship with Anotsu? It’s a tough sell. She mostly comes off as mere action eye candy here. Way to get me excited about her having one of my favourite seiyuu for nothing! Oh well, at least, even with the action scenes’ limited animation, her overwhelming battle prowess and mixture of grace and brutality are still somewhat of a spectacle to behold.
Don’t get me wrong, there were still things to like about this episode. Rin and Anotsu’s travels still had some charm to them, especially the very atmospheric scene in the cave with the raindrops echoing in the background. And the anime did a good job conveying Anotsu’s increasingly worse condition and Rin’s conundrum about whether or not to take advantage of it. One would think that after this ordeal where the two almost seemed like friends, our heroine might finally give up on her revenge altogether, but at the end of the episode she only reaffirms her desire to kill him one day.
This moment definitely felt like a halfway point even in the manga, so I can understand why they would want to close episode 12 out of 24 with it, and I think I’ll go ahead and take this opportunity to conclude these reviews. I’ll continue to watch the show to the end, and I’m still moderately enjoying it for what it is (a highlight reel of a great manga with none of its depth but with some beautiful direction), but I imagine reviews of a manga reader like me can only hamper the genuine excitement and enjoyment many anime-only viewers might still be feeling. And that’s the last thing I want to do. I’m glad there are still people enjoying this show and that this adaptation is still capable of some great episodes in spite of all its handicaps. And for those that come to like this version of the story despite it containing less than half of its original volume of content and dialogue, I hope they consider checking out the manga once the anime is done, because it will really feel like a director’s cut version of the story. 😉