by Paul Jensen,
How would you rate episode 11 of
With Seth's debt rising higher and higher, the group's only option is to start looking for work. In this case, that means hunting for a mysterious Nemesis that's been causing trouble on the industrial island of Rumble Town. Seth and Melie find a rat-like Nemesis soon after arriving, but it's not alone; there are swarms of them, apparently under the control of some unknown person. Before our heroes get a chance to investigate any further, Seth gets into a fight with a masked sorcerer named Grimm. Their battle draws the attention of the local Inquisition captain, which means things are about to get complicated and dangerous for everyone involved.
Radiant's habit of over-explaining new plot points works against it this week, as this episode ends up spending too much time on early exposition. We don't really need to see yet another instance of Doc volunteering for something dangerous just because Melba thinks it's a good idea, nor do we need multiple reminders that Rumble Town is a noisy, industrial place. Radiant could have easily saved a few minutes of screen time here by relying on its audience's ability to infer obvious information, and in doing so could have gotten to the good stuff faster. On a similar note, I have no idea why the series felt it was necessary to set up an elaborate excuse for Seth and Melie to split off from Doc before finding the Nemesis. Given Doc's severe aversion to danger, it seems like it would have been far simpler to just have him refuse to help chase the mouse monster while Seth and Melie continue with the scene as normal. Perhaps this choice will pay off later on, but at the moment it seems needlessly complicated and accomplishes nothing apart from giving Mister Boobrie extra screen time.
The good news is that this new story arc plays into one of Radiant's strong points: its setting. The streets and coffee shops of Artemis were starting to look overly familiar, so it's nice to have a story arc that takes the main characters somewhere else. Rumble Town is a slightly fanciful take on industrial London, albeit in the form of a sky island. Other shows have arguably done a better job with similar aesthetics (Princess Principal comes to mind), but it's still a cool style and a major change of pace from the immaculate appearance of Artemis. The establishing shots of the island are especially well-done, though the generic slums that the characters end up wandering around are somewhat less inspired. This episode also showcases a couple of characters who have either appeared briefly or been referenced before but haven't had a proper introduction until now. Grimm and Konrad fit neatly into the roles of amoral mystery man and angry military leader respectively, and they make up for their current lack of depth by playing their basic parts reasonably well.
With these new guys in the mix alongside the Nemesis and their shadowy leader, it also finally feels like Radiant has set up a story arc with some genuine risk for the main characters. Grimm establishes his combat credentials nicely in his initial encounter with Seth, and both the Nemesis and the Inquisition have the advantage of sheer numbers if nothing else. This newfound sense of peril is certainly welcome, as it brings a level of dramatic intensity that the series has been lacking recently. My only gripe here is that while this feels more like a proper shonen action story, its relevance to the overall narrative is pretty limited at the moment. Unless Seth stumbles into some information that will help him in his long-term mission to eliminate the Nemesis, this rumble in Rumble Town looks like it will be a self-contained incident.
Despite its issues, this is still a major improvement on last week's underwhelming mix of recap scenes and bland side story. The main characters are finally traveling out into the world, they're up against some vaguely intimidating opponents, and they have a nifty new setting to fight in. Sure, Radiant still lacks the novelty or sheer quality needed to really stand out from the crowd, but at least it feels like the story is going somewhere again. If the next couple of episodes can capitalize on this premise and maybe even tie the storyline into the big-picture narrative, we might actually have something worth getting excited about.
Radiant is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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