by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 11 of
With episode 11 the story returns to the fantasy world (which has never been given a formal name?). Despite a complete dearth of action or intensity, quite a lot is still going on, including the introduction of the hook for a presumed upcoming storyline.
That hook is the introduction of the dark elf Yao Ha Ducy, who has come to the town that the Alnus refugee camp is turning into to seek out the “Green People.” She is, of course, a sexy-looking woman but not hostile, except to Itami, who she mistakes as forcing a “child” (Rory) to drink. Rory, who is both the initiator of the drinking and trying to maneuver Itami into finishing what they started at the hot springs, plays otherwise, but as the conversation of other tavern patrons reveals, she was getting back at Yao (for disrupting the mood and insulting her by calling her a child) and not Itami, on the presumption that her being hostile to Itami will make her entreaties to the JSDF more difficult. Yao has come with a plea: that the JSDF hunt down and finish off the wounded Fire Dragon from earlier episodes, which has also ravaged her people's dwellings. And she is offering both a chunk of adamantite and, if necessary, herself as payment. She does not get to formally meet and put in her request to the JSDF in this episode, as her actions chase Itami off, but given the amount of screen time she gets, she can probably be expected to be a significant regular character going forward.
On the other major front, Pina is working diligently to set up peace negotiations. That (naturally!) includes providing viewers some bathing-related fan service, but on a more serious note, it means introducing the Japanese government rep from a couple of episodes back to a prominent noble/Senator to win him over, with promise of his nephew's release in an initial prisoner exchange as a bargaining chip. (For all that she's made herself out to be a knight, Pina also clearly understands quite well how to play politics.) On lesser fronts, Itami and crew fret over Tuka's continuing delusion that her father is still alive. Once again Itami proves that, for all that he is kind-hearted and affable, he is also quite practical, as he insists that they should not be the ones to break her out of her delusion because they cannot guarantee that they will always be around to be her support. This has now been brought up enough times, though, that it is likely to be a major character development point at some point – which would be good, since the continued emphasis on Rory is leaving her distressingly underdeveloped.
Disappointingly, Yao and Tuka do not cross paths this episode, so we do not get to see how elf/dark elf relations are in this world. The snippets of Yao's life suggest that her people live very similarly to normal elves, though; they are not painted as inherently evil or underground-dwellers, Yao is shown as having as much of an affinity with nature as any regular elf, and those in the tavern do not react as if she is anything all that unusual or to be feared. Seeing how quickly the refugee camp is turning into a town is interesting but also plausible, as historically speaking, it was common for towns to grow around a castle (and that's basically what the JSDF installation is) and the JSDF is doubtless helping with that; after all, it furthers their own motives for establishing themselves in this world. And didn't we all know that the Fire Dragon was going to have to come back into the picture sooner or later? Lelei's only appearance is an opening scene where she is drowsily going about her morning ablutions, but that is also fan service in a sense; if you were not a fan of her already, it could help win you over. Military fan service this time comes in the form of jets performing practice duels, which seems to have no point other than to show off and, perhaps, make an unwitting impression on Yao.
I am still bugged a bit by how inconsistently the series is handling the need for translation (or the lack thereof), but overall this is a solid set-up episode for future storylines. With Itami and some others apparently headed to the Imperial capital for next episode, things should soon get a lot livelier again.
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