by Paul Jensen,
How would you rate episode 15 of
I've heard of ringing a bell to get people's attention, but dropping one out of a clock tower seems a bit excessive, even for a Domitor leading a pack of rampaging Nemesis. After dropping the big bell on Konrad's headquarters, Hameline reveals the truth behind what happened in the previous incident in Rumble Town and how she ended up working with the Nemesis. The citizens are less than thrilled to hear that Konrad has no regard for their lives, and Seth is furious over how Hameline was treated. Grimm shows up to stop Hameline from carrying out the next step in her plan, while the battle between Seth and Konrad grows even more intense.
From a moral standpoint, Hameline's backstory is a pretty black and white affair. Konrad and the citizens of Rumble Town are bad, Oxumare and the infected kids are good, and there's little room for nuance in between. The reason for this may be that we're hearing the story from Hameline's perspective, and she's already made up her mind about how and why everything happened. I would have preferred a little more context here, especially regarding the origins of the Defense Force plan, but this flashback is still effective at establishing Hameline's point of view and explaining her motivations. It also raises some interesting questions about the Nemesis, since their interest in Hameline's music suggests a greater level of intelligence than what we've seen in previous story arcs.
Perhaps most importantly, the flashback allows the audience to see Hameline as a person instead of just a two-dimensional antagonist. Her plan to kill everyone in Rumble Town still places her squarely in villain territory, but at least we have a plausible understanding of how she got to this point. That stands her in stark contrast to Konrad, who continues to be written as a generic bad guy with no redeeming or humanizing qualities. All the flashback does for him is confirm that he's always been a total scumbag, and he has yet to do much to contradict that impression. Even his obsession with being the town's “protective wall” has more to do with personal ambition than noble intent. That lack of depth takes away some of the potential drama of the episode's final moments when Konrad realizes that he might not be able to beat Seth. Since the audience doesn't have any reason to empathize with Konrad, the emotional impact of his impending defeat is pretty minimal.
Even with an uninteresting villain, this episode's big fight scene is still pretty good. The animation quality seems to have stabilized a little compared to last week, with less noticeable low points and more frequent high points. There's also a tangible change in momentum from the previous episode, with Seth going into a bit of a rage after hearing Hameline's sob story. With our hero now sufficiently fired up, he's able to unleash the full extent of his abilities against Konrad, and the show does a nice job of lending some tangible weight to Seth's attacks. The only real issue here is one of pacing, and it's a pretty minor problem. Because Radiant is juggling so many simultaneous conflicts right now, it ends up making a very abrupt jump from Grimm confronting Hameline to Seth going berserk on Konrad. It makes some level of sense to wrap this fight up before starting a new one, but the transition between the two conflicts could've been smoother.
Apart from the fact that Konrad is still a boring antagonist, I'm reasonably happy with where Radiant is going right now. Hameline's backstory fits well with the show's central themes, and it adds an element of personal tragedy to her “kill all humans” plot. Couple that with a solid action scene and you end up with some positive momentum for the series, though there are still a lot of loose ends to deal with before this story arc comes to a close. If Radiant can deal with all those conflicts in a sensible order and provide some satisfying resolutions, it stands a good chance of ending this adventure in Rumble Town on a high note.
Radiant is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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