Post Reply Episode 09 Discussion
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50 / M / Within the Empire...
Posted 3/7/10 , edited 3/7/10
Since no one else has started a thread on this one, I figured I'd go ahead volunteer to go to bat on this one before the next episode comes out in a couple days.

Some of my friends find this series too slow going and seem to get bored by it too easily. But I think if you come to this series with all these high expectations of what you want it to be or what you expect from the plot, then you're missing out on the key charm of this series. Preconceived notions & expectations keep a person from enjoying the series for what it is. It's a back to basics form of storytelling as opposed to the over the top, in your face, "pull out all the stops and cram as much action and details in the first few episodes" kind of storytelling like you get in most Shounen style anime shows. Kind of the "less is more" approach to telling a story where the viewer is given just enough info at any given point in time to progress the story and not an iota more. Kind of like a good manga, the plot development is tight, with almost no waste. Even the previous episode #8 gives just a bit more background info to show that its building towards something bigger later in the series.

In the last episode we did get a small glimpse into more of Rio's past, as well as the identity of the blond woman with the pendant that we'd been seeing through all the earlier episodes. We also learned that there is apprehension among the populace about the peace talks not going so well.

In this episode we confirmed that it was Rio's father who called to test the phone line at the fort and that he is indeed someone who is of very high influence in the government/military. All signs point to him being the Archduke that Kureha mentions, who also happens to be the father of who we have now confirmed as the "Late Princess Arcadia". But given the fact that their last names are different, as well as some very prominent physical features such as hair color, we could deduce that even if Rio is also a daughter of the Archduke, she and Princess Iria may have had different mothers. Rio may be an illegitimate child of the Archduke, which would explain why in the flashback in episode 3, the appearance of her mother didn't exactly jibe with that of the appearance of someone of nobility, and the fact that her mother was a maker of apple brandy. In this episode when Felicia asks her if she regretted hanging up on her father, it is clear that they are not on the best speaking terms. Perhaps because she blames him for the death of her beloved sister. I'm thinking maybe he sacrificed his daughter by sending her on some suicide mission for some strategic or military gain. But we also know from previous episodes that Rio deeply respected her mother and sister for the sacrifices they had made for their country and how she herself wished she could do the same.

From a social science perspective, duty to one's community or tribe or country can be one of the strongest motivators. The idea that you need to find something bigger than yourself to believe in or dedicate yourself to. Knowing that her father's words to her on the phone in the last episode were "I want you to save this country" really gives this notion significance. Personally I suspect that Rio's Father (if he is indeed the Archduke) is the type of person who is so politically driven that he'd sacrifice anything, even his family, if it benefited his or his nations position in the world, and that he is not above manipulating them by use of national pride .He probably knows that Rio wants to be just like her mom and sister, and is using the current crisis involving the peace talks to manipulate her into doing something drastic.

When we see her wailing on her trumpet near the beginning of this episode, we get the impression she is feeling troubled and Kanata is one of the first to see through the facade and sense the despair that Rio feels. Rio is obviously confronted with this problem of on the one hand being given this chance to emulate the ones she most looked up to in life and to "do her part for her country", and on the other hand knowing deep down that her father more than likely has in mind for her to do something extremely dangerous that has a good chance of her having to make that ultimate sacrifice. And when Claus arrives with that special "A-1" top priority message,it seems to confirm this.

Later in the episode when we see them searching for the orphan brat Seiya, we see her go on a rant for a brief moment about how she hates kids and how those who don't behave should be locked up, it could lead one to suspect that maybe she herself did something bad or rebellious that could have had something to do with the death of her sister or someone else close to her either directly or indirectly. The flashback she had briefly as she worried about Kanata falling into the swollen river below seems to support this theory.

All of this info is given for us to speculate on in this episode, even though the majority of it seemed to focus more on Kureha and her past, and why she idolizes Claus so much. Here we see her as more of a tsundere type character than we have seen her in all the previous episodes. We learn that though she idolized her father and his military feats, she is no doubt dealing daily with what must be the thing most frustrating for orphans who lose one or both parents at a very early age: the not knowing for sure what is true about their parents and what is not. Claus's words at the end about how idolizing people tends to blur ones vision of them seem to be especially significant in this episode given the pretext of what's going on in Rio's life right now.

Again, this visually tight storytelling and how all these things tie together either on the surface or under the surface is what really amazes me about how this series unfolds and how enjoyable the storytelling is if given a chance. It can be a test of patience for some who are used to anime which use a more direct approach to storytelling, where in the first episode or two you know exactly right off the bat what the show is about and what direction it is going to be taking. Shows like this that require the viewer to follow along more closely and sometimes read between the lines to understand what's going on tend to engage the viewer more in the story. Suffice it to say I love these kinds of anime shows.
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