by Paul Jensen,
How would you rate episode 12 of
If the Inquisition hunts sorcerers and sorcerers hunt the Nemesis, do the Nemesis hunt the Inquisition? With all the competing factions in Rumble Town, perhaps we'll find out. Now that word of Seth's battle with Grimm has reached the Inquisition, Konrad is determined to track the sorcerers down. Unfortunately for him, Dragunov has arrived in Rumble Town, and the higher-ups have given him authority over the situation. Meanwhile, Seth and company meet the family who initially requested their help, and in doing so they learn that a boy named Taj may have been infected by the Nemesis. Taj leads them to where the monsters have been hiding out, but Grimm swoops in and destroys a group of Nemesis that Seth and Melie were hoping to capture alive. The good (and bad) news is that there are plenty more where those came from.
This episode brings us some new information on Rumble Town, with a focus on the people who live there. The meeting with Taj's family reveals that there are some social tensions simmering under the surface, and immigrants in particular have it rough. That's a small bit of world-building at the moment, but the next episode preview suggests this theme will play a bigger role as the story unfolds. If so, it would certainly fit into Radiant's recurring theme of individuals dealing with prejudice. Taj himself is tolerable, if not particularly interesting at the moment, and his role for the moment is simply to point Seth in the right direction. We also learn that the ground beneath Rumble Town is unstable to the point where the population has to be moved from one part of the island to another just to keep everything balanced. I'm not convinced the science behind that premise would hold up under close scrutiny, but it does set up the possibility of serious collateral damage if the various factions all get drawn into one big battle.
While this story arc's antagonists get plenty of screen time, most of them don't actually have an awful lot to do. Konrad huffs and puffs about hunting sorcerers before getting into an argument with Dragunov, but he stops short of actually leaving his headquarters. Grimm is a little more active, and his new hobby of throwing nameless extras into a coffin full of zombie hands pushes him away from his somewhat amoral role last week and towards full-on villain territory. As for the would-be pied piper who's apparently controlling the Nemesis, we don't get much apart from another wordless appearance. I do enjoy the way Dragunov is able to wind Konrad up during their conversation, but it's probably not a great sign that the most notable thing about the bad guys this week is their comedic chemistry.
Thankfully, the protagonists are able to pick up some of the slack left by their rivals. For the first time in recent memory, it feels like Seth, Melie, and Doc are acting like professional Nemesis hunters instead of just chasing monsters at random. As they go through the process of tracking and trapping the rats, we're given some fresh details on how the Nemesis actually function. Between the idea of “Source” and “Echo” Nemesis and the striking image of the feathered tree, Radiant is finally starting to expand on its basic concept of nasty creatures falling out of the sky. The way Melie traps the Nemesis is also kind of clever, and it lends some fresh credibility to the notion that she's been doing this sort of thing since before she met Seth. Doc's job is apparently still limited to flying the airship and complaining, but I suppose he'll find something useful to do sooner or later.
It looks like this story arc's big conflicts won't kick off for at least another week, so it's perhaps inevitable that this episode is heavy on setup and light on payoff. On the upside, at least Radiant is setting up some potentially compelling material: we've got a powder keg of social tension, a swarm of reasonably well-organized Nemesis, and a sky island that's poised to fall apart if things get too rowdy. Oh, and let's not forget the guy who throws people into a magical murder coffin. Whether or not this all adds up to something worthwhile remains to be seen, but I'll give Radiant points for continuing its rise back up into competent shonen action territory.
Radiant is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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