Thursday, April 29, 2021

Episode 5 Joran: The Princess of Snow and Blood


"Private File #620: Divine Right" sees Joran in a condition of change, with every one of its heroes at an individual intersection following the attack on Janome's refuge. Sawa's brother sacrificed himself to save her from the inferno, and her bloodlust has completely abated — she no longer wishes to be an instrument of vengeance, but Nue demands her skills and her devotion all the same. Makoto is down one arm and on the run from Nue, having formally been identified as Janome's successor, though his motives are as inscrutable as ever. Elena is pregnant, as it turns out, and even though her partner and ghost-writer knows he can't be certain of the baby's parentage, he is more than happy to accept the role of her baby's father, and now she is considering the possibility of a life beyond Nue for the very first time.

Seeing as Sawa, Elena, and the ghost-writer all end up dead by the end of the episode, we can deduce that Nue's severance package is…lacking, to say the least.

We'll begin with Elena's demise first, since it seems like the one that is well on the way to stick. In Joran's brief however fantastic custom, the effect of Elena's unexpected death pivots completely on plot components and character improvement that is presented and settled altogether in one scene.The presence of the kid at the end of Episode 4 hinted at her evolving stance on the value of children's lives, but to suddenly find out that she is pregnant and in a loving relationship, only for it all to be used as emotional fodder when Nue reneges on their deal to relocate her family so they can burn the couple to death instead? That's a big ask, on Joran's part.

As far as I might be concerned, in any event, I think it functions admirably enough. Joran has consistently had the rhythms of a bloody dramatic acting, instead of an intelligently serialized dramatization.If you imagine all of the characters performing their lines on an exceedingly pretty stage, twists like Elena's death work better. I didn't exactly feel sad to see her (probably) get killed off, but I recognized the dramatic function of her death, and I can accept it. Besides, the show goes out of its way to cover up the bodies when Sawa encounters them, and given that Nue and Makoto are prone to elaborate acts of subterfuge, I wouldn't be surprised to see Elena return to claim the spotlight, someday.

That carries us to Sawa's destiny, which feels considerably less real and perpetual.For one, her characterization leading up to her “death” is a bit all over the place — all of a sudden, during the episode's singular action scene, she's straight-up trembling at the very thought of taking someone's life — but sure, whatever, I'll go with it. The trauma of losing a brother (again), on top of realizing there has nothing to give your life meaning, is enough to make anyone act a little kooky. Still, I can't believe that the show would kill her off like this, not just halfway through the season, but halfway through a character-arc-already-in-progress. Admittedly, I can totally envision a scenario wherein we flash-forward to an older Asahi that is taking on the mantle of Lady Vengeance, but the story can't justify that turn just yet.

Plus, Asahi got those pills from Makoto, and we definitely know he's a tricksy bastard.All this time, the show's made out like his grand plan to “free” her from her “cage” was to give her the head of Janome on a platter, and then…watch her burn to death, I guess? Poetic, maybe, but pretty silly. Perhaps his scheme to free her is a bit more metaphorical, wherein she will find a way to join him and exact and even vengeance-ier wrath upon Nue themselves, since, c'mon, we all know that the Shogun is totally going to be the Big Bad of the series, right?

Or then again perhaps I'm brimming with poop, and Joran truly will murder Sawa off with an entire seven scenes left to go! More odd things have occurred, I assume, and this arrangement is betting on its interminable torrential slide of turns to keep its crowd snared.This might not have been the most thrilling episode ever, but it did its job in piquing my curiosity. We'll just have to see if the next act of this story will be able to deliver the goods.
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