Episode 33: Future Metropolis Heartland
Wow. That was truly an exciting ride.
This episode starts off as per normal, with the host Nico Smiley announcing the entrance of the two duelists, Kurosaki Shun and Shiunin Sora, both of whom are perhaps the most mysterious characters by far in the series. Kurosaki trumps into the dueling arena stealthily and solemnly, whereas Sora waggles, accompanied by the cheers of Yuya and his gang, as well as most of the audience, who are probably mesmerized by his cuteness.
Both of them begins what appears to be the most plot-related duel in the entirety of the first round in the Maiami Championship, and oh boy, the next twenty minutes of this first part is definitely going to put you at the edge of your seat.
Unlike last episode which I personally felt disappointing, somehow in this episode the duel choreographer seems to have found his inspiration back. The duel flows well and the pacing is also great. By “pacing”, this episode’s duel is what all two-part duels of the anime series should feel like: each duelist starts off small, playing their cards close to their chest, before moving on to larger, faster plays during the climax of the episode, ultimately building up to a cliffhanger end. It reflects excellent planning on the part of the duel writer, and it also provides a sense of excitement to the viewers, craving to know what is each duelist’s next move going to be. Numerous Spells and Traps are being utilized in this duel, but they complement well with the duelists’ playing style, and therefore do not seem as situational.
Penned by the series composer Kamishiro Tsutomu, the script is nothing short of great as well. I personally like how there is a balance between the comical and more serious moments in this episode. While we can all agree the recurrent “Shiver!” jokes by Futoshi seems a little too overboard and should probably retire now, the other comedic scenes are still rather funny. For instance, there is one moment in this episode where the writer is apparently making fun of the stoic of Kurosaki Shun by having him being reluctant to chant at the beginning of the Action Duel.
Moving on to the more serious parts of the episode, the writer definitely does a great job at conveying each of the two duelists’ emotions and personalities during the duel. Through subtle foreshadowings and changes in facial expressions, one could see the slow transformation in Sora during the duel, from his more fun self to him ultimately deciding to reveal his true colors. Shun being “shaken” as he sees the selected Action Field is well-executed too, and some of his later monologues regarding his “battle” are beautifully written. The two duelists do not exchange too much during this episode, but it is very interesting seeing their interactions and revealing the plot bit by bit.
Sora and Shun’s VAs are the two stars of this episode, lending their great voices to these characters. In particular, Sora’s VA is remarkable for providing the vocal range required to reflect Sora’s slow change in personality throughout the episode, as mentioned above. From a cute, innocent boy, to someone who ultimately seems cold-hearted and dark, kudos to Sora’s VA Mie Sonozaki for providing such an excellent performance this episode.
The animation is just the icing on this episode’s cake (no pun intended with regards to Sora’s favorite sweet treat). The episode mainly consists of close or half-body shots of the two duelists, and these frames are drawn with top-notch quality. There are a few fast-paced action sequences in this episode, and while they don’t look as beautiful as those in say Episode 24 or 30, they are still great in my opinion.
Personally, I find this episode to be one of the top episodes of the series, with its excellent script, duel writing and sound. Together with the next episode which seems to be even better with the same writer and the top animator of the series working on it, this two-part duel is shaping up to be the best duel of the series.
Duel Choreography: 9/10
Episode 34: Chimeric Beasts VS The Evolving Falcon! Until then!