Wow this episode felt like a clunky mess pacing-wise. The cuts were just as bad as they were in the first half of the series. Though I suppose they were always pretty bad, but more noticeable in the first several episodes. Not to mention that the farther away shots looked a lot worse than usual. It was honestly driving me crazy. Especially when certain shots just didn’t feel like they portrayed what was happening very well. There was a point where I couldn’t even tell where characters were in relation to each other. But despite that, it was a decent episode. Mostly because Benimaru showed up again and it’s always a pleasure to see him.
It was nice to see the other teams that are allied to the 8th all come together and share information that they had gathered. It’s kind of exciting to see the 8th not be alone against this newfound threat. I honestly love it when different groups join forces to take down a common enemy. Like what happened in Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood. It was also fun to see the different characters that normally don’t interact, well, interact. Like Hibana and Karim. Poor guy’s joke landed him on the floor… lol. Shouldn’t have joked about that, my dude.
Karim is definitely one of my low key favs in this series so it was nice to see him after so long. It actually feels like we saw a bunch of characters we haven’t seen in a while this episode. Which was nice… but on the other hand, because we had been away from some of these characters for so long, they felt like strangers. One of my biggest problems with this series is that we never got the chance to feel particularly attached to most of the 8th, despite them being the central force. Maki and Hinawa are definitely my favorites out of everyone in the 8th… but when I saw them being their quirky selves, it didn’t feel as endearing as they once were. I care about them but I also lost my strong feelings towards them because they felt so irrelevant in the past several arcs. It felt like seeing relatives you don’t normally see except on holidays or special occasions. You care about them, sure, but you’re not particularly close to them. That’s how I feel about the 8th. We never got to see them develop as a group besides the first and second episodes. It’s always just been Shinra and sometimes Arthur.
Anyways, enough of my ranting. I was actually surprised to find that Giovanni had been taken into custody after what transpired with Vulcan. However, seems like he had a decoy take the fall instead as he’s probably working directly within the white clad now that his true alignment had been revealed. Which was also foreshadowed (or shown very explicitly) from the opening sequence.
Going back to Shinra and Arthur, they are heavily being favored by this series, it’s getting a tad ridiculous. I had already noticed that the series had been putting those two in the spotlight A LOT and often stating how powerful they were despite being newbies. Another thing I don’t like about this series: Having newbie characters built up to be super powerful without seeing their journey. Granted, everyone in this episode seemed to be gearing up for a powerup. Maybe I’m just tired of Shinra and Arthur hogging the spotlight all the time and I’m just disappointed that this series promised me a group powerhouse, only to go back on it and have Shinra take every problem head-on. So much for the end of my rantings.
Despite my gripes, I was happy to see Benimaru again as he’s one of the only characters I generally care about in this series. It also seemed very fitting for him to be the one to train Shinra and Arthur in hand-to-hand combat. Despite him constantly complaining about things, he proved to be a very competent teacher. While he was pretty brutal with them by constantly beating them up during his lessons, he definitely helped build their fighting sense. I also laughed a lot harder than I should have when he bashed Shinra and Arthur’s faces in. I’m sorry… it feels satisfying to have their butts whooped by someone more experienced. After this episode, I felt like my appreciation for him went up. He makes sure to give helpful tips when they do something wrong and also praise them for doing something right. Like when Arthur came up behind him to attack, only to be kicked in the face, Benimaru commented how he’d commend him for being quiet this time. That made me laugh so hard. I also really liked how he told Shinra to take care of his brother as he’s his only family left. What a good boy.
When Benimaru mentioned for them to learn “finishing moves,” my mind immediately went to My Hero Academia as all of them were learning “Signature Moves” during the second half of season 3. Anyways, through trying to teach them how to reach their finishing moves, I enjoyed seeing Benimaru actually give helpful hints on how to achieve them. He’s kind of like Aizawa in that aspect. He’ll give hints as to what to do, but won’t give you the full answer so their students can figure out the rest for themselves. Which is what a good teacher should do and it makes me appreciate Benimaru even more. I actually wasn’t expecting this side from him, making it even better when Konro mentions that he seems to be enjoying it. Though considering Benimaru has a scowl on his face 24-7, you wouldn’t be able to tell. But I guess considering he hadn’t walked away from them saying it’s a waste of time was also telling.
I also appreciate how both Konro and Hibana seem to be very suspicious of Victor. AS THEY SHOULD. And I couldn’t help but groan in frustration over Obi being so passive about the whole thing. Just because he hasn’t DONE anything yet, doesn’t mean he WON’T. Especially since he’s stated to the audience that he’s trying to figure out how to use the 8th to his benefit.
Seems like Benimaru was able to point Shinra in the right direction on how to control his flames better and finding how to boost his overall power. Basically giving him a boost in speed as well to maybe keep up with Sho in the inevitable rematch. While the animation was pretty clunky at times and the pacing… oh the pacing… was just downright terrible with the shot cuts, it was a nice cooldown episode. It was nice to see not only Shinra and Arthur get training, but everyone else seems to be getting some sort of powerup. And HOPEFULLY we’ll actually get to see some team action. Maybe… I’m not going to get my hopes up.