Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer
by Nicholas Dupree,
How would you rate episode 9 of
Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer ?
Community score: 3.3
How would you rate episode 10 of
Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer ?
Community score: 3.2
While we've met all of the living Beast Knights, and gotten to know several of them in quick succession, there was still one we never met: the mysterious Swordfish Knight who purportedly took Subaru and Yukimachi under his wing (fin?) before dying entirely off screen. My first guess when we found that out was that it was a feint, and their master would suddenly appear at just the right moment for some big twist or reveal. After all, this is Shonen – no death counts unless you see the body, and sometimes not even then. But nope, turns out he really did bite it before meeting the rest of our ragtag group of superheroes, yet not before leaving a letter that raises a whole lot of questions.
It's almost comical how casually the show just throws the 500-year-old telepathic grandpa at us, like he's a candy bar it picked up for us while it was buying smokes at the gas station. Like yes, we've had supernatural elements established already, but they'd all seemingly been contained to this war against Animus, so it's a bit of a leap that this new character – who's already dead – just happened to have been born with clairvoyance and near-eternal life, and then just so happened to convene with an omniscient universal presence. It's even more jarring when the man himself describes it in the way I'd describe seeing a pretty tree while on a walk. Maybe that's serving the eventual thematic purpose of Akitani's story – for as extraordinary as his circumstances were, they ultimately were meaningless compared to his mundane human relationships and experiences – but that's still a lot to ask of your audience. It's something you need a pitch-perfect sense of atmosphere to pull off, and we've long known this isn't a production capable of that.
Still, Akitani himself is a pretty likable character in spite of his awkward introduction. Mostly that's because of how Mizukami stacks up damn near every Old Man Mentor cliché into a literal trenchcoat and gives the chimera a palindromic name. He teaches children to wield a sword. He trains students with questionable metaphorical tales. He poses with his fedora and mustache as often as possible. He dies tragically while protecting them and instills an important lesson that will motivate them moving forward. About the only box he doesn't tick is being a weird pervert, but that's definitely to his – and the show's – benefit. Along with all that, there's some solid tragedy to his inevitable demise: after being a mentor for centuries, raising his wards and inevitably outliving them, Akitani both fears and relishes the chance to finally be on the other end of all that. For how little time we actually have to learn about him, hearing him emotionally recall all his unseen, unknown apprentices as he's passing on is genuinely sweet. This whole story may have come out of the left field and be delivered with less grace than it deserves, but there's a strong core idea there that shines through regardless.
My biggest complaint is that we spend so much time on Akitani's story that we don't get much from his surviving wards. Like sure, their gimmick of combining their holding fields is cool, and it's fun to see the powerhouse of our team be comprised of nearly its youngest members. And I suppose it's sort of interesting that the spiky redhead is the nervous and sensitive one between Subaru and Yukimachi, but a small subversion of typical character design doesn't give that much texture to either of them. There's still time to remedy that – lord knows we've got a lot of other characters waiting for a chance to really introduce themselves – but it leaves the pair's relationship with their master feeling lopsided right now. Plus I have serious questions about the authorities and adults of this town if a strange old man can approach a pair of unaccompanied children, order them to hold hands, and nobody thinks to question it or maybe call the girls' parents.
Overall though, this is much more in line with the previous character episodes we've gotten – interesting on paper, with some choice lines of dialogue to make it resonate, all held back by the breakneck pace it's delivered with.
If nothing else, episode nine certainly fairs better than its successor in the looks department. I'd kind of been dreading the show getting to this stage of the story, as the golem battles start becoming actually important events in the narrative that necessitate significant focus. And there's no getting around that the fight that makes up the back half of episode 10 is garbo. It's limp as a dead fish and is just as appealing to stare at for extended minutes, turning what should be a tense test of our newly formed crew's teamwork into a second-hand embarrassment generator. I've tried not to focus solely on the production, if only so I don't write the same paragraph every week, but this is a visual medium and these fights are now significant storytelling moments. The fact that most people will have no clue what's happening for most of this battle and how weaksauce every attack feels is an undeniable failure, and there's no getting around that with some funny character moments or sudden reveals.
Because those moments are here, as Biscuit Hammer briefly indulges in a beach (half-)episode seemingly just for a change of scenery. The show's soundtrack hasn't exactly been stellar, but I did love the use of it when Yuuhi was waxing poetic about the deep, miserable fate of not being able to swim. Taking the show's singular piece of Sad Piano music and using it to dunk on your emo protagonist is a great way to make the most of what little you have. Sami admitting she included the balloon as part of their training just cuz she thought it would be cool is another understated joke that fits perfectly with the story's overall approach to shonen storytelling. Heck, I also liked seeing Tarou use his psychic powers to perfectly portion out a chocolate bar – it's the kind of mundane stuff I think actual people would do if they suddenly had magic powers, and gives him just a bit of texture where there was none before.
Then there's all the reveals Animus is so kind as to throw at our heroes – chiefly that this entire time-looping battle is some kind of competition he and his sister have set up for reasons unknown. There's been a few scant mentions of Anima (they had real creative parents, huh) but other than the fact that she exists, the difference between her and Sami has been nebulous at best. I'd been assuming that “Anima” was the different personality Yuuhi keeps meeting in dreamland, but it seems that's not quite the case, and something unusual has gunked up the works and left our little Lucifer in the driver's seat. That's actually pretty cool, since the big question with any sort of cyclical premise like this is always what, exactly, made our particular group of heroes succeed where others failed. If it turns out the answer was this gremlin hijacking her supernatural sponsor's powers and getting her own fists bloody to tip the scales, that would be a pretty fun turn. For right now, it maintains some level of tension so the battle with Animus doesn't feel like a foregone conclusion.
Granted, my enthusiasm to see that all playout is tempered by just how amateur hour the actual fights have been and will most certainly continue to be. Actually amateur isn't accurate – there's amateur artists working with nothing but a Cintiq and a pirated copy of Adobe Character Animation who can put together something far more cohesive and coherent than what we're getting here. In truth only the strictly professional world of a cheap, cashgrab productions with negative amounts of resources for its animators produces something like this.
That probably comes off as harsh, but what can I say? Some episodes make glazing over the obvious faults of this adaptation easier than others, and this one put all of this anime's biggest issues front and center.
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