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Darth Walrus
Feb 13, 2012




I think Iíll just repost what I said near the end of the old thread:

quote:

I think it helps if you see the show's four Sword Guys as a process, each representing a single step on the path to enlightenment (according to the show's philosophy) and failing in order to reveal the next step. First, we have Sha Wu Sheng, a great swordsman and tackily showy serial killer constantly hungering to demonstrate and improve his incredible skill. He fails, and we get Mie Ten Hai, a quietly ruthless overlord who's so skilled that he's gained the confidence to no longer feel the need to prove himself, but simply kills and collects trophies for pleasure. He fails, and we get Lin Xue Ya, who has developed his swordsmanship to the point where he has exhausted his interest in it, no longer deriving pleasure from killing and instead seeking less monstrously evil pursuits, but still addicted to the pleasure of destroying others. He fails, and we finally get Shang Bu Huan, the most enlightened member of the cast, who has abandoned swords altogether, and makes a specific point of not deriving pleasure from hurting people. His only goal is to help and protect others, causing injury, humiliation, and death only out of necessity.

It kind of reminds me of Meti's Sword Manual from the webcomic Kill Six Billion Demons, where the highest mastery of the art is to ditch it altogether and pick a better lifestyle like being a farmer.

This is also why Lin obliterated that tournament in the movie - to him, swordsmanship is romanticised murder, and so a tournament of swordsmen was nothing but a band of killers with delusions of grandeur. Sha, to him, was trying to whitewash himself without meaningfully changing his ways - a swordsman who shows mercy is kind of ridiculous when you could just not stab people with bits of pointy metal for fun in the first place. Of course, the irony is that heís still just as addicted to destroying people, even if he does it in more indirect and abstract ways, which is why we get the second half of the movie where weíre reminded why Shang is the actual hero of the story.

Darth Walrus fucked around with this message at 23:16 on Oct 7, 2018

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Darth Walrus
Feb 13, 2012




You know, Iím kind of curious whether anyoneís done decent art of the characters in a different artstyle. I ainít slamming the visual presentation, because itís cool and unique, but itíd be kind of fun to see these sword-obsessed weirdos with actual varied expressions.

Darth Walrus
Feb 13, 2012




7c Nickel posted:



YOU ASKED FOR IT. YOU CAN'T UNASK FOR IT!

I asked for decent art.

Darth Walrus
Feb 13, 2012




I think it's perfectly reasonable to assume that there are multiple, opposing villainous factions after Shang. Literally everyone of any significance wanting to do terrible things with the Index would explain a lot about why he fled the country rather than staying and fighting alongside some virtuous faction. Plus, this show does love having a rich, creamy soup of conflicting interests scheming against and backstabbing each other, so a diversity of murderous assholes is usually a safe bet.

Darth Walrus
Feb 13, 2012




Lemon-Lime posted:

He wasn't knocked down enough pegs.

After Sword of Life and Death, he needs to be knocked down more pegs, hopefully all the way into the ground.

The thing about Sword of Life and Death is that while Lin's methods were extremely cruel, he also had something of a point. That tournament didn't serve a higher purpose than allowing people to feel good about sticking sharp objects in each other for fun, and Sha's failure to grasp that made his quest for redemption selfish sophistry. That's why I think the narrative will be somewhat kind to him, even if he suffers humiliations and setbacks - he's not got all the answers, but he's the stick to Shang's carrot, leading the country away from destructive and idiotic traditions. He's an rear end in a top hat, but a useful rear end in a top hat - if nothing else, his habit of dumping problem kids on Shang forces our actual hero to step up and be a good dad to his new homeland.

Darth Walrus
Feb 13, 2012




Elephant Ambush posted:

That's a good point and another reason she's my favorite villain from the first season. I hope we see again this season. She should be probably trying to figure out a way to remove the space portal sword in Tan Hi's new monastery or whatever.

I think she merged with that super-demon (it speaks with multiple voices at once, and hers is one of them), so I'm afraid she likely won't be coming back any time soon.

Darth Walrus
Feb 13, 2012




Am I alone in kind of rooting for the Princess of Cruelty a little? She may be a ruthless killer, but she's so massively out of her depth and so painfully aware of it that it's oddly endearing. Like when she stole that ludicrously powerful sword that brainwashes its owner and immediately went 'whoa, holy poo poo, I don't want any of that'. I mean, she's probably going to get steamrolled by someone, and it'll probably be her fault, but it'd be kind of fun if her talk-therapy with the creepy priest dude pays off and she takes a more constructive course in life.

Darth Walrus
Feb 13, 2012




I'm also looking forward to it being Xiao rather than Xie who gets his brain eaten by Not-Soul Edge. He's got the colour-coordinated outfit, his name means 'Roaring Maniac', and he's gone on suspiciously long about how the Sword Index doesn't matter to him, honest.

Darth Walrus
Feb 13, 2012




The episode title gave me a chuckle, too. They are really not being subtle about this whole thing Lin and Shang have going on.

Darth Walrus
Feb 13, 2012




Elephant Ambush posted:

This is one of my favorite aspects of his character.

Any smart person would have kept quiet when Gale was describing how all that stuff went down in the Wasteland but Shou Fu Kan is honest to a fault and I was laughing so hard at his stammering about "uhhhh yeah I didn't want to kill that dragon I just wanted it to leave me alone so I cut off a wing and uhhh yeah I didn't want to wipe out an entire village of cannibals I just tried to scare them but they all tried to kill me soooooo..."

It is absolutely hilarious that he single-handedly carved a path for others through the Wasteland just because he was in a hurry and needed to get away from Seiyuu quickly. Urobuchi is such an awesome writer.

Even better is how Gale is going out of his way to make Shou Fu Kan owes him a favor. This is going to be brutal.

Oh and yes Princess of Cruelty is totally being set up for a sympathetic tragedy death. She's going to get so mad that she can't beat anyone and will succumb to the Seven Blasphemous Deaths out of frustration and it will ruin her.

I mean, I'd normally think that, but she's being set up alongside a dumber, cockier, and less sympathetic villain with a suspiciously fitting colour scheme and name. It would be kind of hilarious if she exits the series by chucking the Seven Blasphemous Deaths handle-first at Xiao and running for the hills. Especially because Lin would then get mad that he didn't get to own the dude.

Darth Walrus
Feb 13, 2012




K Prime posted:

Lŗng Wū YŠo seeing right through Lin is the best. Too straightforward to fool.

Probably should have waited until after Shang was cured to backstab him, though. That little 'urk' at the end seemed kind of ominous.

Darth Walrus
Feb 13, 2012




It says a lot about Shang as a character that two of his best moments this episode consisted of immediately figuring out the situation and deciding to do absolutely nothing about it. That little wave he gave to Di was fantastic.

Darth Walrus
Feb 13, 2012




a cartoon duck posted:

It's kinda amazing how the show frames a merciless poison user in such a way I can't help but root for her. Even the lyrics to the theme song kicked in at her declaration of pride against Shang.

It feels like she's pretty much destined to get possessed by that sword and ultimately die, but then again I figured she'd have suffered the fate of a mid-level minion and died by episode 3 already, so who knows how things pan out. Either way I can't help but hope she makes it out of the season alive and well.

That, or Not-Soul-Edge gives Di Kong his purpose in life, and she either narrowly escapes or somehow plays a key role in talking him down.

Darth Walrus
Feb 13, 2012




The interesting thing about Xiao is that his name means Roaring Maniac. Names in Thunderbolt Fantasy are usually pretty straightforward descriptions of the character in question (Lang is Wandering Shaman Bard and Xie is Scorpion Necklace), so there's clearly going to be another shoe dropping there.

Darth Walrus
Feb 13, 2012




Can Of Worms posted:

Urobuchi's uncle told me Princess of Cruelty lives at the end and marries Di Kong to retire to a life of peace and quiet, where she atones for her sins by working as a wandering apothecary. And uh she adopts a cute dog, I guess

This but replace Di Kong with the Seven Blasphemous Deaths. Di, meanwhile, is taken under the wing of Lin, who instructs him in the deeper mysteries of the art of 'y u so mad tho?' when he's not thinking up ways to gatecrash Shang and Lang's honeymoon.

Darth Walrus fucked around with this message at 00:46 on Nov 20, 2018

Darth Walrus
Feb 13, 2012




Xarbala posted:

It doesn't help that she was the only character with an arc.

I mean, this was sort of the natural ending to that arc. She was more sympathetic for her situation than for who she was, and had killed a shitload of innocents, so while she was thrown the bone of breaking the SBD's hold on her and getting a satisfying duel with Shang Bu Huang, she'd gone too deep to escape death altogether. The general vibe seemed to be that while she'd irreparably screwed up this life, she finally had a chance of doing better in the next one. I also suspect that the fate of The Monk Formerly Known As Di Kong will be significantly less kind than a quick death followed by one of your mightiest enemies honouring you. He and Xie were in the same position, but he made the wrong choice for the wrong reasons, while she eventually made the right one.

Darth Walrus
Feb 13, 2012




Lemon-Lime posted:

It's pretty weird that in a show that does not shy away in the least from showing lots of blood whenever someone dies, Princess of Cruelty dies without ever being touched by a sword, with Di Kong's attack only cutting off her hair and cloak, with her body showing zero trace of any actual attack.

She might still be dead since Ling Ya explicitly points out a wound (that we never see), but it's odd.

I mean, it would be kind of funny if she dissolves into a pile of scorpions with a quiet 'heh, suckers', but I'm not putting money on it.

Darth Walrus
Feb 13, 2012




Waffleman_ posted:

Yeah, I used to be kind of a fan of Urobuchi and I still enjoy TBF, but I've found myself getting a lot more annoyed by his poo poo in recent years. I couldn't even finish the first anime Godzilla movie he did because it's such boring wordy garbage.

To be fair, that was a Hobbit situation - he wrote a script for a single movie that then got stretched out into three.

Darth Walrus
Feb 13, 2012




Caphi posted:

My crack theory is that the OP is about Thirsty Not-Monk.

Nah. It's been Shang's theme since Season One. Tough, surly loner who's secretly a big old softie.

Darth Walrus
Feb 13, 2012




Potsticker posted:

The only things of Urobuchi I've seen are Madoka, Gaim, Psycho-Pass (didn't finish it, though), Gargantia and this show. And Chaos Dragon but I'm not sure that really counts and yeah, with the exception of Madoka women in his shows have no agency and are often basically just stock characters written straight. Even in Psycho-Pass where the main character was a woman. One of the reasons I dropped it was that she was presented mostly as vapid with no agency in what was going on in the plot. If that changed, I didn't find out.

Akane got a lot more agency in the second half of Psycho-Pass - she basically ends the season as one of the biggest human power-players in Japan, with a respectable amount of influence over the biggest non-human player. Plus, while the other two female members of the team are relatively minor characters, they get to remain cool, competent, reliable, and alive all the way through, while keeping up a stable, healthy relationship with each other.

That said, yeah, if you roll the dice on an Urobuchi show, you do have relatively low odds on getting cool, competent female characters with agency who make it out in one piece. He's capable of writing them, he just doesn't do it all that often.

Darth Walrus
Feb 13, 2012




Waffleman_ posted:

The secret to this is that Urobuchi didn't write the second season of Psycho-Pass.

That was a typo - I meant the first season. The second season is much uglier in how its female cast is treated, which isn't surprising when you consider Ubukata's personal life.

Darth Walrus
Feb 13, 2012




a cartoon duck posted:

Sha Wu Sheng was a heartless serial killer and he got die on his own terms, in a way that left him feeling complete and satisfied with his life. Xie Yingluo declares she'd die on her own terms, but then the show just goes nah bitch, get hosed.

It feels a bit uneven.

Xie's on-screen crimes were a little more serious, though. Like, Sha's big thing was always fighting duels to the death, while she wiped out entire villages of helpless civilians because her girlfriend was thirsty. Even so, she got to have a satisfying duel with Shang on her own terms, before dying relatively quickly and painlessly and receiving an honourable warrior's burial from her enemies. Compared to her nastier counterpart, Xiao, who ended up on the receiving end of maximum Urobuchi sadism, she got off relatively lightly.

Darth Walrus fucked around with this message at 17:40 on Dec 24, 2018

Darth Walrus
Feb 13, 2012




I'm pretty sure that Xiao's death and the leadup to it was an explicit parallel to Xie's. They both get stomped by Shang and then shanked by Lou and the Seven Blasphemous Deaths, but the way they approach it and the way they end up treated by others are completely different. As for Lin, he's established as being really good, but not as good as Shang, both in the physical and the philosophical sides of swordsmanship. If Shang has difficulty blind-fighting someone, you can bet Lin will too.

Darth Walrus
Feb 13, 2012




Cao Ni Ma posted:

there is 0 chance that lin is worse than shang in sword fighting unless they forgot everything about s1. Screaming was on par with Shang and he got clowned by bones and then bones got clowned by Lin

Shang was holding back super hard throughout S1. I really doubt he was fighting Sha seriously.

Darth Walrus
Feb 13, 2012




I feel like Shang was probably getting more violent than usual because he was getting pushed so hard. If he'd been able to hold back, he and Mu wouldn't have needed Lang to rescue them.

Darth Walrus
Feb 13, 2012




Turin Turambar posted:

By the way, I had to roll my eyes when Shang calls the new bad guy as using shortcuts to gain true power (typical of bad guys, or something to that effect), when he sees he uses both magic and swordmanship. You would think learning and practicing both is HARDER, not easier.

BRB, going to watch Ep 2 now.

I think the idea is that it's automation. They're casting 'make my sword stab people' spells rather than learning how to stab people properly. Shang also has a whole thing about how the act of killing should be difficult and unpleasant - hence his blunt wooden sword.

Darth Walrus
Feb 13, 2012




Kind of interesting that Shang hasn't really got a ready counterargument to his old comrade. Man's been the rock-solid bastion of wisdom and morality for two whole seasons, but it looks like he may actually have to do some proper soul-searching here.

Darth Walrus
Feb 13, 2012




Yes, but that's an argument that has its limits, particularly when a worst-case scenario happens as a result of him not intervening. He also doesn't entirely seal himself off from worldly affairs - he spent the last two seasons fighting low-level evil, and this season raises the uncomfortable question of what he'd do if Mie Tian Hai or Di Kong managed to take charge of a country rather than simply being warlords or murderers - what, exactly, is the meaningful difference between them and Chao Feng? His stance is beginning to feel less like wisdom born of strong moral principles, and more like a refusal to engage with the really difficult questions, and his lack of his usual ready supply of snappy comebacks in the latest episode felt like an acknowledgement of that.

Darth Walrus
Feb 13, 2012




Lemon-Lime posted:

The swords are magical nukes and they've been used before to wipe out an entire country, something which is even mentioned again in this episode.

Shang's position is "hey, we shouldn't nuke people because nuking people is really bad." He isn't in this out of a generic sense of do-gooding; his mission is to make the swords disappear so no one can ever use them to glass a country again.

Wan's position is "sure, nuking people is bad, but when the alternatives are my men dying in ditches or the country I love being overrun by barbarians, I'll pick nuking our enemies as the morally-acceptable alternative."


No one is stupid in this show, the evil wizard absolutely has a plan he's presented to Wan as an explanation for why handing Xi You to the Divine Order and giving him the nukes is better than Wan trying to murder the emperor and princess on his own.

I mean, there are definitely degrees of power amongst the weapons in the Sorcerous Sword Index that we've seen, and using one absolutely does not guarantee long-lasting collateral damage like detonating a nuke would. They're dangerous and powerful, yes, but it's not axiomatically going to gently caress up everything if you draw one in extreme consequences, and even Shang is prepared to use them if he really feels he has to (see also, the S1 finale). That raises a lot of really thorny questions about when they should be used, given that everyone agrees that there are some circumstances in which they should.

Darth Walrus
Feb 13, 2012




Raenir Salazar posted:

There's the factual manner though that in many of the above he intervened because they attacked him. Or have been consistently been chasing him and so on.

I think also there's an element of its way easier for him to defend people who are within harms reach of him, while defending (ruling) a whole country involves moral compromises he's not willing to shoulder the burden of.

These are largely irreconcilable moral problems; defending people in front of you because its the right thing to do in the moment; protecting the innocent people of other nations who would be killed en mass if Xie You continued to use the Sword Index for their imperialistic aims. Versus well now Xie You is being attacked by its neighbours, its defences are compromised because its corrupt rulership is more concerned with chasing down the Swords then in managing the affairs of State.

I think up to a level he's is willing to be a criminal fugitive and run from the law; but is not willing to become the law with everything that entails. For better or less Yandere princess & her father is the rightful rulers of the nation; for better or less Xie You brought this fate down on themselves by using the Sword Index for evil ends.

Right, but this is where you start to run into problems with the legitimacy of the royal family. Xie You isn't a democracy, and its rulers' actions are hurting people who have no say in the matter. At some point, the border between 'rightful king' and 'bandit warlord' begins to disappear, and the government of Xie You has really not been demonstrating much interest in the public good lately.

Darth Walrus
Feb 13, 2012




Kwyndig posted:

The problem is at this point the Index is a package deal, he neither has the time nor the luxury of distance to take out the really awful swords and destroy them then hand the merely nation conquering swords back over to the rulers of Xi You. I mean how do you even sort the swords, what's merely a nuisance weapon in peasant hands (Seven Blasphemous Deaths) becomes a nation ender in the wrong hands.

Yeah, but as Wan points out, even Shang just rolling in and ousting the Xie You royal family like they're another one of the supervillain teams he regularly goes up against might well be an improvement - they wouldn't have sword-nukes, but they'd at least not have the country be actively sabotaged and its people abandoned and/or butchered by the people who are supposed to rule it. Even if he's unwilling to give them that power, there's a reasonable argument for him being a smidgeon more liberal with how he uses it, given that he does presently take an active role in fighting other forms of evil.

Darth Walrus
Feb 13, 2012




I do find it unlikely that the story as presented so far is going to come down on the side of 'the divine right of kings is good, actually', and while it seems quite plausible that Huo Sho Ming Huang is going to be a lot more responsible for the decline of Xie You than he's led Wan to believe, that still leaves Shang with the same moral dilemma about how he should use the power he's claimed.

Darth Walrus
Feb 13, 2012




Raenir Salazar posted:

So what exactly happened with that, my understanding was that his last target the guy from the place Shang is from decided to just turn to banditry which is... I presume underachieving? And Lin is upset at that instead of scheming to take over the world or something the guy decided to be okay with just robbing random people?

And also that he was happy coming up with a Plan B when Plan A didn't work out, precisely because he was too lacking in ambition to care much when Lin screwed him over.

The odds on him poking Wan into a genuine crisis of conscience seem pretty high, at least.

Darth Walrus
Feb 13, 2012




Lemon-Lime posted:

No, it isn't. Fiction does not work like a garbage roleplaying game.

This is an Urobuchi work, and he's an avid D&D player who's previously incorporated his experience into his writing.

Darth Walrus
Feb 13, 2012




Turin Turambar posted:

Episode 8 has been perhaps the weakest so far in this season. Which doesn't mean it was a bad episode, but it was mostly about character A telling characters B and C what we already know, and B and C plotting what to do, telling to D too. So, needed for the story, but not very gripping to watch.

It was at least a little bit interesting because what the characters were saying and what the audience knew didn't always track, and the new reveals cast a lot of what we already know into question. SBD possibly saving Lou's life was quite a twist.

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Darth Walrus
Feb 13, 2012




Turin Turambar posted:

It could be... but I'm a bit tired of Monk already, and he is a dead-end character wise. in between season 2 and 3 we had enough of him. I also thought your theory (he'll take the long way back) but it's 200 years. I guess in this genre, by mastering qi you can slow how your age, but it seems a bit too much for me, two hundred years.

What I don't understand is how the demon sisters, who explained before how careful you have to be when dealing with time traveling, go and leave a person there.

There's mileage in Lou if they decide to keep Zhao around in her corporeal form as a major antagonist. An almighty archdemon having to deal with her one admirer who's both powerful and unpredictable enough to be interesting/annoying will be a fun little subplot, especially if he ends up changing her attitude towards humanity (for better or for worse - or, most probably, both at once).

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