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Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer
Episode 5

by Nicholas Dupree,

How would you rate episode 5 of
Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer ?
Community score: 3.7

Last week, both the audience and the animation team got to take a bit of a breather, what with the action taking a back seat. Not so much this time around, as the golem plot arrives with some much unexpected narrative gravitas this week, meaning we're capping off this episode with a fight. And yes, that fight looks like the animation equivalent of a deflated pool float abandoned on the side of the highway. Things move with the weight and speed of crate paper, and may very well have been drawn on it for how consistent any of the character art is. It looks bad, and it's going to continue to look bad, we know this.

But while these fights can't actually work as spectacle, we have at least reached the point where they can advance the plot and function as something besides a minor inconvenience solved in under a minute. This week, that function is to cap off the story of Hangetsu Shinonome. Which isn't exactly surprising, considering he's a friendly mentor character in a Shonen series. Dying in a fight to protect the next generation was practically etched into his soul the moment he was conceived. But what's surprising is how Biscuit Hammer manages to make that death feel genuinely important for both Shinonome's character and our heroes.

Though I'm getting a bit ahead of myself. The first part of the episode is more about fleshing out Sami and her father through the world's most awkward trip to anime Denny's since Scum's Wish aired. Though at least this is the fun awkward of having your crush's weird dad quiz you on your life choices while dressed like Sam Spade from The Maltese Falcon. Plus it's a charming way to establish that Mr. Asahina isn't entirely checked out of his daughters' lives. More importantly, it hammers on the idea of impending adulthood again, asking Yuuhi what he wants to do or be, and digging up his childhood desire to follow in his father's footsteps. It's debatable if doing so would be a good choice, and there's nothing saying he needs to stick to the uncomplicated aspiration of childhood imagination, but what's important is for there to be something that he wants to do with his life, and that he put his all into it.

Of course, what he wants to do right now is a murder-suicide pact with all of humanity – subtext that just becomes text with the reveal that Sami's living off borrowed time thanks to the whole magic princess powers she's harboring. As in she literally, amicably, asks Yuuhi to die with her, and he agrees without so much as a second thought. That is dark, and I'm glad at least Noi is present to share my reaction of looking extremely uncomfortable as it happened. What started as a riff on our heroes being the true villains of this story has quickly become something a lot more personal, and I find myself hoping very much for somebody to save these heroes from themselves, because they certainly aren't going to figure it out on their own.

Thus enters Shinonome, and while the guy doesn't fully understand what Yuuhi and Sami are planning, he does have some sense that they're hiding something, and seems to want to steer them away from their own self (and non-self) destructive impulses. Well, sort of. He at least tries to give Yuuhi a concrete goal and the emotional impetus to follow through on it, along with the objectively correct lesson that watching tokusatsu and magical girl shows helps make you a well-rounded person, but there's also a sense that Shinonome doesn't totally want to dissuade them from what they're doing. Sure, he's trying his best to be a responsible adult, but he doesn't stifle them. Perhaps because for as much as he talks about growing up and out of childhood, about not really being a superhero, he also can't quite let go of his own childish dreams.

That, more than anything, is what makes this death hit for me. It's not because it's unexpected – even without knowing how these stories go, Shinonome's sacrifice was telegraphed to hell and back by the opening moments of this episode – but for the gnarled mix of emotions that comes with it. Shinonome spent his life convinced he wasn't capable of being a hero, trying to accept and work on his own weaknesses rather than despise himself for them, and in the end was able to overcome them...and it led to his bloody, painful demise. To the audience, it's tragic because he was by and large a likable and positive figure in this story during his brief stint. To Yuuhi and Sami it's a muddled loss of both ally and enemy. But for the man himself it seems almost satisfying. He certainly didn't want to die, but knowing in doing so he managed to keep somebody else safe, to do what Saw did all those years ago when he was frozen with fear, seems to give him some comfort.

That mixture of emotions is ultimately what makes this relatively abrupt end to Shinonome's role in the story still work. Despite his relatively short time in the story, there's weight to his death that resounds across the narrative, and I'm interested to see how things cascade from here – especially as the next episode title promises we'll meet his elusive brother. It's imperfect in its delivery, as so much of this adaptation is, but there's enough care in the conception of it that it still manages to work.


Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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