by Paul Jensen,
How would you rate episode 16 of
Seth's fight with Konrad has had at least one beneficial side effect: it opened up a big gap for people to evacuate through. As the people of Rumble Town rush out through the freshly-made hole in the wall, Seth finds Doc looking just a little different than he usually does. The two of them meet back up with Melie, and Grimm arrives to join the party soon after. Seth and Melie decide to work with Grimm in order to stop Hameline, but Seth is pulled out of the fight by one of General Torque's lieutenants. As Melie and Grimm face off against the Domitor and her Nemesis, Seth finds himself face to face with a fellow horned sorcerer.
This episode raises a lot of questions, most of which go unanswered. The questions start small, with little details like what in the world happened to Doc. He describes his molting experience as a curse, which implies that his contact with the Nemesis has left him infected. If that's true, it means that Doc's role within the group could change as he becomes a sorcerer instead of just a researcher. Then there's the matter of Melie's backstory, which is hinted at a couple times this week. She clearly has some lingering regrets, which could explain her split personality, but we aren't given anything concrete to go on. Finally, we have General Torque's impending arrival, and the scene on his airship which raises questions about the General's intentions. His minions certainly don't seem like they're all on the same page, so perhaps there's a split within the Inquisition that runs deeper than a few rogue officers.
Of course, all of these details are overshadowed by Seth's encounter with Piodon, the horned sorcerer who hangs out with Torque but seems to be acting on his own initiative. In the short term, Piodon poses another moral question for Seth. Now that our hero has seen the dark sides of sorcerers, the Inquisition, and the general population, where exactly should his loyalties lie? Seth stops short of actually giving an answer, but it's a nice reminder that Radiant has left room for moral ambiguity within all of its various factions. In the long term, the big question is just who exactly Piodon is. He describes Seth as a part of his family, but is he talking about a blood relation or just the similarity between their horned appearances? There's certainly a resemblance between the two of them, but whatever the case may be, this encounter seems like it's just the start of something much bigger.
There's still room for a bit of action between all of the updates and new plot threads, with the main attraction being the showdown between Melie, Grimm, and Hameline. In terms of outright spectacle, this is more or less in line with what we've seen from Radiant in the past: serviceable animation, some neat magical techniques, and a lot of expository dialogue. Melie's Fantasia-blocking lamp is a clever idea, and it plays into her overall theme of using traps and other equipment instead of attacking her opponents directly. There's also a lot of scroll usage on display here, with Hameline using one to store her Echo Nemesis and Grimm using one to hold his gigantic sword. All of this feels like a warmup act ahead of the inevitable confrontation between Hameline and Seth, but it's a reasonably entertaining first round.
Even with the fight scene to keep things moving, this episode represents a slight lull in the action compared to last week. You can see the plot shifting gears as it moves from the battle against Konrad to the race to keep Hameline from destroying Rumble Town. The transition between those two plot points is relatively painless, but it lacks the emotional intensity of the previous episode. As intriguing as some of the new developments are, unanswered questions can only do so much to maintain an audience's interest.
This marks the end of my time reviewing Radiant, as the series didn't rank high enough in our reader poll to merit another season of coverage. All things considered, it hasn't been a bad little show; it seems pretty well-matched to its target audience, and it hasn't made any disastrously bad moves apart from one lousy recap episode. On the other hand, after sixteen episodes, Radiant still hasn't done anything to truly set itself apart from other entries in the genre. If you asked me to point to something it does better than the big-name shonen action shows, I'm not sure I could come up with anything concrete. Being a decent genre title is better than being a bad one, but it's not really enough to make a lasting impression.
Radiant is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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