Post Reply Episode 3 review - some SPOILERS
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Posted 10/17/09
This was better. Not that the previous episode was poor, but it raised more questions than it answered and I was pleased to see at least some of those questions being addressed so quickly.

For a start, we get to see more of Cigal and his plan for Toatt. That it ties in so dramatically with the snatches of background we've seen from the fragments of the book of the 'Laughing Witch' is all the more gratifying. With his long dark hair, elegant bearing and sardonic voice, Cigal verges on stereotypical. He's the kind of villain we've seen before in a number of anime and anime-influenced games. That the opening scene manages to be so disturbing despite that sense of familiarity is proof of just how well this show is directed and produced. The girl's vulnerability and desperation and Cigal's cool contempt for her combine to produce a profoundly unsettling opening. Of course, the fact that it doesn't follow directly on from last week's cliffhanger has the same effect. This is a show whose makers don't mind at all messing with their audience's expectations.

Speaking of that ending... well, they follow it up reasonably well, although it's quite a long way into the episode before they do. What we're given prior to Hamyuts' appearance is a large chunk of backstory that we coincidentally need to understand the full impact of the episode's second half. What saves this from being merely a functional info-dump is, firstly, the quality of the animation and character design and, secondly, the almost palpable sense of unfolding tragedy which reaches its high point with the image of Shiron Byacornise kneeling, a jagged piece of broken pottery poised at her throat. This is a girl who's made a deal whose implications she is only slowly beginning to understand trying to find a way out. How her fate ties into that of Colio and Hamyuts, we don't know, but it's powerful stuff all the same.

And speaking of Hamyuts... well, my opinion is being slowly revised upwards as far as she's concerned. In this episode, while still being frivolous and flirtatious, she manages to do a number of significant things, not least transforming Colio from a 'Meat' into a human again. (Not that he seems to know what to do with his newfound status.) Mind you, her roughing him up in order to get the fragment (and her subsequent dismissal of its contents) reminds us that, for all her heroics during the episode, this is still a very morally ambiguous character.

The episode comes into its own, however, with the drawing together of the various strands of Cigal's plot. Mirepoc and Mattalast's discovery, inter-cut with Hamyuts' finding of the infected girl, is particularly well done. Throw in a typhoon that renders Hamyuts' amazing location powers ineffective and you've got a very clever trap and a gripping cliffhanger ending.

I know we're only three episodes in, but I'm both thoroughly engaged and impressed with this show so far. Full marks for this episode, in particular.

dunsany
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Posted 10/19/09
Thank you for your reviews of the episodes. I've enjoyed The Book of Bantorra so far and look forward to the unfolding story (and thusly, your take on those stories).

~td99
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Posted 10/20/09
I'm glad you like the reviews and the series. As I mentioned above, this show has got me hooked. I think it's a very strong central concept and there's some great characters here. I'm intrigued as to where it's going.

All the best!

dunsany
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Posted 10/20/09
This is a great show, but the director still needs a lot of work.what I don't like about her is that she doesn't identify with any characters that support her and none of the supporting characters identify with her either. Matter-of-fact, I think her only purpose as one of the main characters is because she is the most powerful of the librarians that we know of. Besides that, we know nothing about her or why we should care whether Cigal pwns her or not in episode four.
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Posted 10/21/09
I think you're right up to a point. There's more to her character than we're seeing at the moment. Her behaviour up to now has appeared to be self-centred and amoral. The point made in the ep 2 thread about her not caring about the collateral damage when she starts killing off the meats is a fair one and, yes, her attitude towards the Armed Librarian killed in the blast in ep 2 and the fact that Volken (who we automatically like because he's so obviously meant to be our viewpoint character) doesn't like her either all reinforce that sense of her not being a traditional 'good guy'. (Or 'gal', I suppose.)

But there are contradictory signs here. If she was that ruthless, why did she save Colio instead of just killing him? Similarly, she's obviously trying to prevent the Church's plans and they're obviously the bad guys here so we're led to assume that her actions are for the greater good somehow. And I don't think it's fair to say that none of her colleagues in the library identify with her. There's a scene in this episode where it's explained that Armed Librarians need to be dispassionate in order to do their jobs correctly. Perhaps, Hamyuts' bizarre flippancy is a way of dealing with feelings she's not allowed to display and/or understands to be a hindrance to her job. Certainly, there's something admirable about the way she, Mirepoc and Mattalast deal with the revelation that they've been exposed to a lethal disease.

I'm not saying that I necessarily like the character all that more than I did at the end of episode 2, but I feel I am beginning to understand her a bit better. In any case, Hamyuts is a bold bit of character design on the part of the producers, but that outfit is just daft and the ludicrously over-sized chest does detract from what might turn out to be a satisfyingly complex character. We shall see.

In any case, at least it's got us talking about the show. There are other things that are worth considering as well. I hope they show us just how someone turns into a book, for example. And is that mine at Toatt just there for books or are the book fragments a by-product of mining for something else? This is quite a rich world they've introduced here. There are plenty of questions still unanswered.

dunsany
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