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Kaina of the Great Snow Sea
Episode 11

by Steve Jones,

How would you rate episode 11 of
Kaina of the Great Snow Sea ?
Community score: 3.7

It's our last dip in the Snow Sea for now, and Kaina closes out the winter with a bang—and a giant laser cannon. The show defies my expectations and delivers a season finale that, at the moment at least, is pretty darn satisfying as it revives the mysterious appeal that drew me to the premiere. There's no getting around that it took its sweet time to get here, but I can't deny the importance of ending on a high note.

Last week, I highlighted the opposing ways in which Kaina and the Admiral used their relics from the past, and this week, that thematic confrontation turns literal as the bark cutter scoops out a chunk of the Builder's torso. I expected the full-power laser to possess enough potency to slice off one of the mech's limbs or something, but I underestimated the doohickey a tad. It's nice to be surprised by this series again! I wish the episode took time to explore how this fits into Kaina's character arc because we just saw a pacifist let rip with the strongest weapon we've seen so far. There's a quiet tragedy buried in that. On the other hand, the moment is both shocking and cool enough for me to excuse the anime for reveling in the sense of victory.

The Admiral, however, does a good job setting up his downfall without Kaina's help. It's very funny to see the entire Valghian military do the equivalent of an awkward chuckle and shuffle out of the battlefield as soon as he yeets one of their warships straight into Atland. One has to wonder how this is the straw that breaks their backs, not the laundry list of Saturday morning cartoon villain antics the Admiral had already demonstrated. Given the number of totalitarian weirdos sprinkled throughout human history, though, I can't fault this as bad writing. If anything, I have to respect Valghia's citizens and soldiers for cutting their losses when they do. There was a line, he crossed it, and they crossed him off their leadership roster (with Orinoga's help).

Side note: I totally called that the Builder was a piece of construction equipment. This guy became a fearsome dictator by weaponizing the equivalent of a boom truck. I love that.

I also begrudgingly respect some of the more puzzling plot developments in this episode. You have to admit, it's very funny for them to build up the importance of that tapestry for weeks, only for Ririha to throw it into a raging fire. She even has the gall to be shocked when it burns! I dig it, though, because it was a weak MacGuffin, and destroying it gave Ririha the chance to be proactive and save one of her people. Maybe that wasn't the most utilitarian decision at that moment, but it was a satisfying one. Honestly, Kaina would have benefited from more plot anarchy. With a couple more curveballs like that, the week-to-week momentum could have felt less anemic.

The series' weird pacing woes persist until the very final moments of the season. It seems like the story tries to make a last-minute correction for all the slowness in previous episodes by cramming in as many developments as possible; Valghia surrenders, Kaina identifies the location of the great spire tree, they start building the ship to go there, and Kaina reunites with the Canopy villagers. Everything happens in a two-minute montage, when this is the stuff I would have rather seen in more detail. The conflict between Valghia and Atland was too elementary and amateur-written to be interesting, and it should have been condensed to favor these moments after their alliance. We finally arrive at the point where our heroes are ready to interrogate the myriad mysteries of this world, and the season ends. I don't feel enticed as much as I feel let down.

It comes as no surprise that Kaina will return later this year with a sequel film, and despite what I just said about feeling let down, I'm genuinely happy about that. While there's no doubt the show had its flaws, I think a solid 6/10 fantasy anime deserves the chance to continue and close out its story. The movie format might iron out some of the pacing wrinkles. The next arc of the story will also, in all likelihood, focus on exploring the origins of the odd apocalypse that hit the planet. The weird world-building has always been the best thing about Kaina, so I'm optimistic about its future. I just wish the Snow Sea revealed a few more of its secrets with the time it had on air.


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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