by Lynzee Loveridge,
How would you rate episode 9 of
Darwin's Game ?
Kaname's clan is going to have to beef up its numbers if it wants to do real damage to the marauding Eighth members terrorizing Shibuya. Fortunately, Kaname is well on his way to becoming a Darwin's Game overlord. The episode opens up with his one-vs-one match against the Dango Boxing Club head for allyship. Kaname has to prove that he's Dango's equal but the match is little more than a case of bringing a knife to a fistfight. Except replace "knife" with "semi-automatic machine gun."
Kaname's Sigil allows him to replicate items he's encountered before and up to this point it's been primarily used to summon firearms. I wish I could say that things get jazzed up; maybe Kaname tries to set traps or utilize his surroundings to overcome Dango's close combat abilities, but I can't. Instead he safely unloads round after round at Dango while he zips from pillars and stones for cover. Just when it looks like Kaname is done for, he throws a flashbang that disorients Dango and allows Kaname to get two barrels in his face. Snooze.
Before the two men can shake on it, Kaname is kidnapped by a fox-masked woman. We've seen her in the "gambling room" where the the hotshots place bets on the game but this is the first time we've seen her interact with the players. A multi-generational assassin, she reveals her name is Xuelan and she has a non-Sigil capability to make her foes experience death without killing them by slicing them with an "energy blade." She kidnaps Kaname with the intention of taking him for herself and training him to be an elite assassin that intervenes in large-scale battles. Xuelan wants to send Kaname to war and she's pretty sure that despite his protests, he'd enjoy it.
Also if they could make some babies in the meantime, that'd be great, the assassin succession line is starting to die out after all. Really, despite some cool powers and a thrown in by-the-books backstory, Xuelan is just another iteration of Shuka. They're the same character. They both want to "form clans" with Kaname, have an overt romantic interest in him, and handle all Darwin's Game related conflicts (and even normal conflicts) with killing people. Pick your fav, I guess.
Xuelan's Do-S routine doesn't last very long before the rest of Kaname's clan come barrelling down the highway in a military jeep to retrieve him. Kaname manages to strike a deal with Xuelan: he'll wife her up if she manages to escape with him without murdering any of his clan. She agrees without knowing how desperately Shuka also wants to be wifed up. The murder wife fight that ensues is some of the best action we've seen in the series to date and helped pull me back around after the lackluster display in the first half against Dango. Ultimately, Xuelan loses when the clan manages to destroy her vehicle's bulletproof tires. She agrees to ally up with Kaname while they do some weird eye-sexing each other in front of everyone (who are vehemently against trusting her for obvious reasons).
This episode mostly felt like a rush to beef up Kaname's numbers so they have enough skilled fighters to take on Eighth who have since kidnapped Kaname's school friend from the last episode and cut off all his fingers. Also they wear Lucha Libre masks now because Wang is trying to settle on a gang gimmick and pickling fingers just isn't getting him the clout he wants. Marketing a gang is hard work these days.
Darwin's Game is currently streaming on FUNimation.
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