Is it me or has this show gotten very, very weird?
Nah, it’s not just me. If I were to try and describe my reaction to this season of Fumetsu in one word, it’d be “bemused”. And that’s n0t a reaction I commonly have. I don’t know quite what to make of it, to be honest. Is it brilliant? Is it terrible, or (almost surely) somewhere in-between? I think it’s probably pretty fearless, which broadly speaking is a good thing. But these wild swings both tonal and plot are hard to keep up with. I don’t think this sort of thing can work for twenty episodes, but at five we’re still at the interesting stage.
Fushi’s deeper exploration of mortality, love, and his place in the world is very much a positive. That said, it stands in pretty stark contrast to Bon’s utter ludicrousness. Bon is interesting too, in his way. He obviously represents someone very important to the progression of the story. Yet, he feels like he fell out of a different series (maybe Ousama Ranking) and landed in this one. Why did Ooima-sensei choose to draw him this way, I wonder? Was it was an indulgence, or was this stark tonal disconnect something she created on purpose?
Fushi’s miracle tour continues, and it has the ring of a PR campaign (or maybe a run for the office of savior). He makes artificial legs (a robber came and… sawed off the son’s leg?). He makes weapons, and helps defend a village from an invading Nokker. I don’t think any of this is really helping Fushi get closer to the answers he’s seeking, but it is helping Bonchien’s image. And that of course is exactly the point. For his entire existence – indeed from the literal moment of his creation – Fushi has been used by others. Some (like Bonchien) do care about him, but that doesn’t change the fact that they’re using him.
The big matzoh ball here for sure is the introduction of Anna (Shimoji Shino), the dying daughter of a noble whose castle Team Bon visits on the tour. Through her the big themes of love and death are advanced substantially, through a whopper of a plot twist. The lord asks Fushi to save Anna; he can see where she’s broken, but lacks the ability to fix her. All he can do – reluctantly, after the father begs him – is reproduce a “shell” of her and depart. Except that shell comes back to life, fundamentally shifting the ground on which this story treads.
Just what is Anna, first of all? Even if the body is a copy, is the soul inhabiting it the “original”? Not only is she alive, she’s healthy. And if Fushi can make shells of Gugu, March, et al, they can presumably come back to life too. It goes without saying (though Bon says it) that the Man in Black knew Fushi could do this is neglected to tell him. And now Bon neglects to tell him too – because he knows he’ll lose Fushi to those he truly loves if he does, and Fushi is far too useful to him to let that happen. If you want to give Bon points for feeling guilty about that go ahead, but that doesn’t mitigate the fact that he’s doing it in the first place.
Then we have the “love” side of the ledger. Todo’s true identity is revealed, thanks to a chance meeting with her father. Her name is Iris, and she doesn’t seem to be the handkerchief girl from Bonchien’s flashback. Thanks to Fushi blurting out the truth she gets demoted from chair duty, too. Then we have Fushi seemingly falling in love with a doll he sees in a shop window, one that looks conspicuously like Anna. Are we to take from this that Fushi has finally fallen in love with someone, and it’s a dead (or so he believes) girl? Or is he literally having romantic feelings for a doll?
All of this is of course very confusing for Kahaku, whose creepy obsession with Fushi-Parona continues unabated? He gives Fushi a very weird-sounding romance novel to try and nudge “her” feelings along – with the doll thing seemingly the result. I can only assume Fushi is going to reject Kahaku’s proposal out of hand, for any of a dozen compelling reasons. But Fushi even showing some awareness of this sort of thing represents a step forward for his character. The big question is how long his “friend” is going to keep Fushi in the dark about something that could seemingly end his eternal state of loneliness.