Episode 34: Chimeric Beast VS The Evolving Falcon
Note: Apologies in advance, but I find it not possible to discuss this episode without talking about some of its plot points. Although I would try to reduce spoilers to a minimum, there might still be one or two major ones in this review.
To use a perhaps cliche but definitely appropriate quote from my favorite movie, this episode is the episode that we deserve.
This episode continues from where the last one left off at the ending, with Shun successfully forcing Sora into a corner with his ace monster Raid Raptor Rise Falcon. As many would have imagined, a fierce, hot-blooded battle ensues between the two evenly-matched opponents in this latter part of the duel, and I dare say, this episode is the best that ARC-V has offered us so far.
One of the greatest strengths about this series so far is with characterization, and this episode proves just that exactly. As Sora’s strategies get overturned one by one by Kurosaki Shun this episode, he slowly begins to lose his mind, ultimately dropping his entire candy-coated facade and revealing his true sadistic personality during the climax of the episode. Accompanied with a new eerie leitmotif playing in the background and superb aesthetics by the chief animator of the episode, this transformation is hair-raising and spine-chilling, yet fantastic at the same time. As I’ve mentioned in my last review, the entire transformation had been foreshadowed in the previous episode, therefore his change is definitely well-written in my opinion.
On the other side of the dueling arena, we have Kurosaki Shun, who remains a stoic and serious character, but this episode reveals more of his background story. Having being portrayed as the antagonist for the past episodes, this episode cleverly turns that around and makes him a much more sympathetic character now, with his opponent ironically becoming more of a villain-like character.
The dialogue, oh the dialogue this episode! This is perhaps one of the episodes I’ve seen in the anime franchise with the best dialogue thus far. From Yuya’s comments on how the duel has become like a war, to Sora’s insane speech using “candy” and “toys” as analogies, every single line in this episode is intense, thought-provoking and is bound to keep one excited. While the focus is still on the duel, there is a great balance between promoting the card game and story-telling this episode and that should what a Yu-Gi-Oh episode should look like.
Speaking of the duel, the duel choreography this episode is nothing less than excellent. This is a very intense duel, with the two duelists being so evenly matched it is impossible to predict who would eventually emerge as the victor. Both Shun and Sora play beautifully this episode, each of them countering one another’s moves and summoning and battling with their ace monsters one by one. The action cards, while still a weak point of the show, don’t bother me as much this episode: in fact, I thought they are well-executed this episode, showing how each of the two duelists can make a comeback despite being forced into a corner. It is also pleasing to see duelists like Shun use his Raid Raptors to look for Action Cards while flying, giving more dynamics to the duel.
With the chief animator of the episode being Hidekazu Ebina (who is known for directing the animation for Episodes 1 and 24), is there any doubt that this episode would have superb animation? This episode showcases some of the most pleasant-looking action sequences so far. In particular, the sky battle sequence during the duel is just epic. The facial expressions of the characters are drawn excellently as well. Like I mentioned, the change in Sora’s personality would not have been so successful without the animation playing its part as well.
Mie Sonozaki, well done once again. Last episode, you’ve shown us some of your amazing voice-acting talents, but in this episode, you topped it with an even better voice range. Indeed, another factor that increases the shock value of this episode so much is Sora’s voice too. I love how there is a clear contrast between the voice when Sora is still pretending to be that candy-loving, innocent cute boy; as well as his more sinister, sadistic personality. It could not have been done better this episode and there isn’t a more talented voice actress than Ms. Sonozaki who could execute this so perfectly.
This is the best out of all 34 episodes in the series thus far, topping even the jaw-dropping Episode 24. The fact that I have to constantly refer to a thesaurus to look for synonyms of “awesome” while writing this review is one concrete proof that I’m at a loss of words as to how excellent this episode is. ARC-V has always surprised me with better and better episodes, and if this trend continues, this series could eventually become one of my favorite Yu-Gi-Oh series of all time.
Duel Choreography: 9/10
Script: 11/10 (I’m giving this a bonus mark this episode!)
Episode 35: The Academia and The Resistance! Until then!