100-Man 8‘s big question (to me) is why chief Cox want to grind his village into the ground like he’s doing? There are hardly any people left that we can see. It can’t be simply greed or desire to keep power; he should easily see that the place is in terrible shape and there’s no future for it the way it’s going. So I’m guessing he’s either a monster or is afflicted by them, maybe a variation of that parasite. Meanwhile, our heroes, apart from the usual introspective moments, act stupidly almost from the start. Everyone watching was surely shouting at Yuusuke and Glenda not to go into that room, but they do anyway. And the rest of them, well, Iu is suspicious and Kusue is reluctant, wind up following Cox and his goons to be trapped over a bottomless river. At least they have a fighting chance. Not sure what Yuusuke and Glenda can do. As for the tragic end of Jezby’s father and mother and the boy in shock, mixed with Yuusuke’s cold thinking and later regret–we’ve seen it before.
And it follows up with #9, a ham-fisted joke of an episode where people are confronted with grave danger and just stand around and talk. Cox tries to get Jezby captured and the heroes stand there, until, well, Keita recalls his own history of abuse and snaps. While it’s true that attacking humans lowers their levels, it doesn’t mean the heroes should be passive observers. Anyway, monsters attack, they stand around. A dragon’s acid breath kills most of the villagers, who cares, let’s talk a little more. There were a couple of good moments, like Kusue dropping into a well, claiming she might as well be a pawn, while Yuusuke wonders why she’s saying it to him of all people. And Keita putting Iris on his back was a nice, humanizing bit for both characters. And finally the concept of Cox and Iris more or less being the village they’ve come to protect. And the situation is actually quite interesting. Who IS controlling the monsters? What is elevating their stats? And how are they going to fight the goblins AND the monsters should they show up again? But the rest of it was so clumsy and poorly done that it’s hard to care.
Whereas in Peach Boy Riverside 10, a hell of a lot happens, some of very surprising, and it’s fairly-well put together. This time we jump back to the confrontations: Hawthorn and Todoroki, Frau and the big eagle, Carrot and Stretchy-Ogre, and Sally and Sumeragi. In many of the situations we get some knowledge. Todoroki and SO were ostracized by ogres and redeemed by Meki before she became carrot, making them sympathetic characters that you’d think would join the good guy team, but stuff happens. We also learn from Winnie the Witch that the super-sword she lends Hawthorn was once wielded by Frau, but that’s all we get about that. As for the fights, the good guys manage to win, the most satisfying would be Carrot’s. Unlike the others she didn’t get outside help, a sword or some leftover power, she did it with guile. As for Sally, Sumeragi just lets her past after “testing her mettle.” After that, everyone talks it over. A nice bit where Sally doesn’t know what to do with Hawthorn’s explanation of what he wanted to do with Todoroki–he both wanted revenge but knew that Todoroki was being misled. But the big surprise comes at the end. Todoroki was all set up to be an ally, but that’s cut short by Sumeragi, completely out of the blue. Sumeragi is turning into quite a good villain, and cruel surprises like that are a good reason to keep watching, no matter where they jump in the plot next. I predict next week it will be Winnie-time.
In #11 … I called it! We finally meet Winnie the witch as we loop back a little ways. Trouble is, it’s been so long that I’ve forgotten why they’re visiting Winnie in the first place. Well anyway, Sally somehow thinks she’s weak and wants to learn magic, or swordsmanship, or both, anything to make her useful. Meanwhile, Winnie and Carrot use their magical skills to see that Sally has huge magical abilities, and maybe she’s a demon. Great, another race we gotta deal with now. Then an elf and a lizard guy come to ask Winnie to unlock the seal and let an ogre out so they can kill it, and so more species hatred comes up. The boss elf wants to use the battle to abandon the lizardfolk, and the latter aren’t too fond of the former, either. To make things more fun, Hatsuki the nun shows up and she and the ogre (huge tree) decide to kill everybody. “Kill ’em all, let God sort it out,” or maybe they just hate everyone. So everyone teams up against them until Sally decides on the ludicrous notion that everyone could actually be friends. This is going to be a real test for Sally’s negotiation skills …
Nothing much to Hamefura2 10. Everyone goes around looking for Keith, and all we know about his situation is that Thomas wants to drag him down to the dregs of society, dunno why except Keith is a noble person and Thomas is drawn like a caricature. So the crazy sister performs some dark magic on him. By the end Larna has figured out where Keith is and they’re going to infiltrate the next morning. So much for that. Oh, and we get some cute moments between Catarina and Keith, Cat and Maria, and Cat and Sora. Hugs are exchanged. But what I really want to know is why that magic teddy bear has it in for Catarina. It’s only a running gag, and one getting stale, but I really wonder if there’s some importance to it. As for the rest of the story, who cares? Oh, I know Keith is in danger, but they’re going to rescue him next episode or the one after that, and all it is is a plot to carry the important stuff (Catarina, the teddy bear, etc) along. Oh, I forgot about that ugly brooch Catarina got early on. How does that fit in?
And so we get the rescue. Catarina’s request to move in on the mansion (which is giving off really evil vibes) went on too long. The infiltration was not bad. The jealous guy’s spilling the beans and inadvertently showing them the hidden door was ludicrous, and how did he wind up on the floor with bloody fingers? Catarina’s weeping and holding the unconscious Keith (who’s surrounded by vibes so powerful that even Sora can see it) was tiresome–we were waiting for the plot to move again, basically. But things picked up when the show exhibited Catarina’s strengths. It’s not only her compassion, but her anger and determination when someone she loves is in danger along with it that makes her fun to watch, well, also her epic density, but there was no room for that here, save it for later. That and the brooch (its purpose completely unexplained) allows her to break through the evil barrier and tear the black snakes off of Keith. Meanwhile Geordo merely gapes (and has the show forgotten that he’s frightened of snakes?), in awe of our hero. To add to the confusing bits the evil black muck turns into a happy little dog, who, just like everyone else in the show, adores Catarina. So that wraps up another routine story arc. In the REAL news, Keith kisses Catarina and declares his love! Cat’s reaction can be summed up as “huh?”. And things get back to normal. I hope, if the show goes another season, we’ll get more of the spooky girl responsible for all this. Interesting character.