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Kaina of the Great Snow Sea
Episode 10

by Steve Jones,

How would you rate episode 10 of
Kaina of the Great Snow Sea ?
Community score: 3.4

This week, Kaina of the Great Snow Sea solves the age-old debate of which would win in a fight: a giant mech excavated from the bowels of an ancient civilization or one tall blobby boy. The battle between Atland and Valghia introduces a few new twists. Otherwise, this is a straightforward continuation of the previous episode that, once again, didn't move the needle as much as I'd liked. The lumbering movements of the Builder (translated as the Architect last week) provide an apt symbol for the series as a whole; it looks neat, but it takes forever to get anywhere.

The relationship between mankind and technology is a thematic concern that runs down the spine of every Tsutomu Nihei's works. This episode clarifies two opposing approaches in Kaina: Valghia, who have risen to power thanks to the military applications of the tech they uncovered. The most prominent is the Builder, which ironically proves to be the most destructive weapon in their arsenal. I guess the name stems from how it was originally used—perhaps as a construction robot that aided in the creation of the spire trees—but the unforgiving environment of the present world has repurposed it for war. Then there's Amelothée's armor, which suggests that past civilizations were no strangers to war either. The world didn't get this way overnight, after all. There was likely a period of struggle before the Snow Sea washed away everything.

Meanwhile, we have Kaina's little laser doodad on the other end of the spectrum. I assume this has a similar origin to the Builder, i.e. it was a high-tech tool used in construction ages past. Given the power of the laser, it seems like it could make a formidable weapon. However, we've only seen Kaina repurpose it constructively, not destructively. He climbed down his spire tree, freed Ririha, and saved an Atland citizen from a collapsing house. It's easy to read the show's commentary through the presence of the tapestry. Kaina uses it to find the probable site of the planet's salvation. The Admiral nearly destroys it without a second thought.

On the other hand, the fight between Amelothée and Orinoga doesn't develop with the complexity I'd hoped for, but we do see shades of the general behind her mask. She's afraid of The Builder, which likely destroyed her nation. Fear and self-preservation spurred her to don that armor as part of Valghia's military because she could see no other path forward. Now that we know the armor is also a relic, we can also read into the symbolism of her action, becoming another “toy” of the Admiral. Presumably, Orinoga's devotion to Atland reminded her of her past self that drew her to fight him. The fight itself looks pretty darn good. I just wished we had some resolution already.

For a moment, it looked like we might have arrived at the sea change I'd been hoping for. The enigmatic little green guy, Light, appears and tries to throw a deus Ex Machina at Valghia in the form of the Ascender. It's a cool scene due to how sudden it is. It might have hit harder if we'd had some foreshadowing because it is funny to hear everyone talking about the Ascender like it's this storied protector of Atland when this is the first time we're hearing about it. Nonetheless, the element of surprise works too. It also makes the link between Light and the spire trees more conspicuous, although the exact nature of Light is still a mystery. It doesn't do too good a job fending off the Builder, so I have to wonder about its true purpose.

Overall, it feels like the episode ended in about the same place it began. Much of the runtime is spent watching Kaina and Ririha run around Atland, while the Admiral takes his sweet time lobbing bigger and bigger bits of flotsam at them. The battle itself isn't that interesting or kinetic. I'd rather get to the resolution where a truce between the two nations is the only path forward to the great spire tree, which has the highest chance of being interesting. Kaina can't afford to keep treading water.


Kaina of the Great Snow Sea is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Steve is on Twitter while it lasts. While he enjoys writing about cartoons, he is currently looking into becoming a post-apocalyptic bug hunter. You can also catch him chatting about trash and treasure alike on This Week in Anime.

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