So I'm a Spider, So What?
by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 9 of
So I'm a Spider, So What? ?
How do you turn a cliffhanger fight scene into practically an afterthought? By doing exactly what this series does: load up the next episode with so many important character introductions, pivotal plot developments, confirmations of earlier suspicions, and both legitimate clues and red herrings that the resolution of the fight becomes one of the least important events in the episode. In the process, the story also provides further evidence about how intrinsically linked the two sides of the plot are and raises further questions about the motive of one key character. So yeah, this episode is stacked, and this review will be my longest yet because of that.
The resolution of the fire dragon fight is one of the few places where I have been disappointed with the adaptation. While not the biggest fight that this series will cover, it's still an important stepping stone battle for Kumoko, as it showed her applying some of her more advanced abilities for the first time. The gimmick for how she didn't get roasted had to be something tricky like that, but the whole thing with using Abyss Magic for the first time to open Hell Gate just failed to impress, as does the appearance of the dragon in general. The power and drawback of the newly-acquired Rot Attack was a little more effective, and Kumoko gets in the joke for the episode with the behavior of Magic Brain #2. This leaves me a bit concerned about one key upcoming fight that could mark the season's climax.
The immediate consequence of that fight is the introduction of a new character who comes to investigate the dragon's defeat. An announcement on the series' website around the time the episode aired names the newcomer as Black, but his appearance here isn't as dark as what he's described in the novel. Still, he's clearly an upper-echelon figure in this world and somehow connected to dragons. His appearance leads to the introduction of a figure who has at least been mentioned before: administrator D, although she only appears via voice on a smartphone. It takes some moxy to cheerfully declare oneself to be “the most malevolent evil god in the world,” but I get the impression here (as I did when first reading this part in the third novel) that this statement by D is more akin to an amused portrayal of herself than a true moral declaration. Still, watching people struggle just for kicks does sound kind of evil. What's clear is that she has power on a level even above Black.
This scene also raises a lot of questions about D. This world has game-like features, a game-like aspect of which D is apparently an administrator, and D claims she's been watching Kumoko for entertainment purposes – but she doesn't claim that this is her game. That's interesting, because if she did create it, why not admit that when you're admitting to being an evil god? Or is this part of what she wants Kumoko to figure out? That D speaks fluent Japanese, is familiar with a smartphone, and claims to be an outsider all suggest that D is a modern Japanese as well. But how is that possible, and what does it mean in the grand scheme of things? Does it have something to do with why the classroom got destroyed and everyone reincarnated here? If so, did the classroom get destroyed because D was there? Questions, questions.
The assembly of the Demon Lord's generals is also an interesting scene for who it introduces and what it reveals. It shows that the young woman in white with the closed eyes, who first appeared in the Demon Lord's introductory scene back in episode 6 – let's call her White for now – is actually one of the Demon Lord's generals, in addition to being a close confidante. So, curiously, is Black; in fact, at the end of the scene, the Demon Lord mentions knowing him for a long time. The Demon Lord certainly seems to be using thread-based powers to control the unruly ones, too; methinks that they are woefully underestimating what the Demon Lord can do. But that also suggests spider-like powers, doesn't it? She also claims to know Abyss Magic, too, and seems to know who Schlain was back in Japan. Is that meant to imply that Kumoko eventually becomes the Demon Lord Ariel? (She did gain a Demon Lord title, after all.) That would explain the “known for a long time” comment, but Ariel's appearance is markedly different from Hiiro Wakaba's. Or is the implication that Kumoko was Hiiro a misdirection? Why she insists that the Hero must now be eliminated, when she seemed to call off the Nightmare of the Labyrinth back in episode 6, also raises questions, and who is she concerned about getting wiped out by with as powerful as she'd have to be?
That scene also has a couple of other introductions of characters who will not immediately be important but will factor in more down the line. One is Wrath, the oni-looking eighth general, whose name we also know from the website announcement about new casting choices. All of the other generals will have at least some minor role way down the line as well (and for the record, the sexy female one is a succubus), but the other important one here wasn't named, doesn't have a line, and only briefly appears at the fringes of a couple of shots: the one who's quite obviously a vampire and has ears suspiciously similar to Sophia's. Meaningful, or a red herring? Either way, remember him, anime-only viewers.
That, finally, brings us to Julius, who appears in the opening scene only to set off all sorts of glaring death flags. Aside from that, his comments about the connection between his scarf and Fei establish one critical bit of missing info: that the spider and human timelines are at least close to 15 years out of alignment at this point. Some disconnect has long been implied, but this is the first all-but-complete affirmation of it. (And thanks to this anime-original opening scene, it is coming well earlier than in the novels.) That Julius dies shouldn't be a big shocker, as Schlain is shown wailing over that scarf in one shot in the opener (and Hyrince is in that shot, so he, at least, must have survived), but the interesting question here is who took him out? That makes Schlain being declared as the new hero by The Voice the episode's big twist. I liked how this was handled in the novel, and the anime maybe even improves on it as the weight of gaining the Hero title sinks in for Schlain. This will obviously have major consequences.
As an adaptation, this now completely finishes novel 2 on the human side (except for two brief interludes that the next episode might open with) and leaves the spider side about a third of the way into novel 3. Once again, the adaptation crew is using the disparity in story advancement to align scenes which make sense to align; seeing Black at the Demon Lord's council has much more impact after he's been formally introduced on the spider side, for instance. I also very much like the visuals being used while D is speaking and the attention to detail on the Demon Lord's body language in the meeting; even if I didn't know her from the novels, I still think I would find her to be a very interesting character, especially since she seems to be putting on airs to make herself look less indomitable than she is.
This series has been a lot of fun so far, but the fun's far from over.
So I'm a Spider, So What? is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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