Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer
by Nicholas Dupree,
How would you rate episode 6 of
Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer ?
Community score: 3.5
I knew this day was coming. Once the shock of how wonky this show looked had faded, an inescapable truth rang through my brain like a church bell: at some point, this anime team was going to have to draw a horse. Even well-produced anime made for more than pocket change struggle to make these horrific quadrupedal beasts look right, and now Biscuit Hammer's Beast Knight conceit meant these poor souls were tasked with animating one. And honestly, maybe I'd just braced myself enough, because Dance Dark's arrival wasn't that bad. It wasn't good, but I've seen objectively shittier horses in anime, so we cleared the bar that was sitting on the ground. Woo.
Granted, that horse also brings in a whole lot of other characters with him this week, as the show finally deigns to start building up its extended cast and actually dig into the bigger narrative. The result is an episode that feels like it never has a chance to breathe, even by this adaptation's brisk standards for pacing, cobbling together three separate character introductions with diminishing returns and investment.
For one there's Dance Dark's partner, Nagumo, who seemingly shows up because we need at least one adult in the room. There's some charming moments for him – like how he just books it rather than answering Mikazuki's initial challenge to a fight – but otherwise he's here to tell all these distracted and/or grieving neophytes to get their shit in order and prepare for a fight. There's certainly room for him to become more interesting, but as of this episode he's more function than actual character, and doesn't leave much of an impression. He's useful though, establishing exactly how many more Knights are left to be found (we're at five total by the end of the episode, with seven to go), and even bringing one with him to the fight so we can get the plot going in earnest.
That brings us to Yayoi, the Snake Knight. Like Nagumo, she doesn't get a ton of time to establish herself, but her all-white aesthetic is at least a memorable design – plus she's apparently a swordfighter, which is always neat in these kinds of shonen battle series. Oddly enough it's her familiar, Sia, who's more important to the emotional arc of this episode, as her connection with Neu gives the little lizard a more prominent role in the waning minutes. More directly she confirms what's been insinuated before: that this whole battle against the Biscuit Hammer has happened before, seemingly many times, with the various spirit beasts and their chosen knights falling in different orders throughout. In fact it's confirmed so matter-of-factly that I'd forgive anybody who thought they missed a scene or episode while watching it. You'd think that knowing they're on the latest edition of a repeating cycle that hinges on the world being destroyed would shake Yuuhi, but I suppose he's occupied with so much else that a potential time loop isn't very important to him.
For instance, dealing with the whirling chaos that is Shinonome's little brother, Mikazuki. He's the new arrival with the most screentime, and easily the most fleshed-out personality of the episode. If you recall, the older brother said Yuuhi reminded him of his sibling, which is hilarious in hindsight because these two couldn't seem more opposite. Yuuhi is, speaking affectionately, an antisocial dork who barely maintains relationships despite himself, and tries to keep as low a profile as possible. He's not exactly stoic or strictly logical, but he thinks fairly pragmatically and prefers to keep his thoughts to himself unless necessary. Mikazuki is a feral tasmanian devil in a shonen hero's skin, whose means of grieving is to challenge Yuuhi to a fight to prove his “fate” is more powerful than the one that inadvertently ended his older brother's life. He's pure chaos who acts first and thinks possibly never, prioritizing a chance to kick Nagumo's ass over the impending golem attack.
It's an interesting wrench to throw into the machinery of the Beast Knights' expected story. We already know Yuuhi and Sami plan to flip the table at the end, but if there are more knights like Mikazuki in the wings, they may not even make it that far. And it seems like Mikazuki's brazen, illogical temperament rubbed off on Yuuhi by the end of this, in a surprisingly positive way.
And really, it's Yuuhi's arc here that keeps the episode from buckling under its own weight. Watching him try to process his grief over Shinonome is really intriguing, and also very in character. When Hisame tries to comfort him, he deflects with a (very crummy) joke, then privately rationalizes that hey, this is technically going the way he was hoping it would since he's planning to betray the other knights, so what's the big deal? It's only once he's on the battlefield that he's forced to confront his damage head-on, and it absolutely paralyzes him, leaves him less than useless on the battlefield, and no amount of trying to logic his way out of it can fix things. It's only when he finds a reason outside himself to fight – this time, to help repay Neu's debt to the Snake Knight – that he's able to summon up enough courage (and recklessness) to charge forward and face danger again. It's shonen as all hell, but also a relatively grounded way to follow our protagonist as he works his way through a flurry of conflicting emotions and impulses.
It's just a shame it's crammed into a single episode alongside introducing half a dozen new characters and some especially ineffectual action scenes. In a sharper presentation that either cut some of these excess elements or rearranged things to better highlight the emotional throughline of it all, this could be a great episode. But like so much else in this adaptation, it can only marginally succeed in spite of itself.
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