Iris continues a long line of characters that I wish did not exist.
What They Say
Ryner and Ferris are sent back to the Nelpha forest, where they run into the devious duo, Sui and Kuu. In the confrontation, Sui forcefully triggers Ryner's deadly Alpha Stigma.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Ryner and Ferris find themselves, after a bit of silly and pointless back and forth with Iris, heading back to Nelpha Forest to investigate things that have happene recently. What they come across is strange in that there's a burned out husk of a section of forest with numerous bodies hanging from the trees with no blood coming from them. And in the midst of that there are two people, Sui and Kuu, who are also searching for hero relics, which Ferris has no issue in questioning them about and which naturally leads to fighting.
As much as Ryner and Ferris spar with each other, verbally and physically with how she beats up on him, the two are finding a good working relationship when it comes to fights. And with sui and Kuu, they definitely need one as Ferris even indicates that if it wasn't for some quick thinking by Ryner, she would have ended up dead. The first half of the episode that deals with the fight gives us a nice setup as the opponents showcase their potential nicely, but it's the second half where it gets elevated and we see them up the ante a bit with their powers and general approach since they have relics in their possession and aren't afraid to use them.
The use of the hero relics is a really nice plot point here since I don't think they've been actively used so far. Watching Sui and Kuu work over Ryner and Ferris with them is a very nice touch which adds a different level of malevolence to it and puts Ryner in a more difficult position when he's messed over mentally with one. The return of memories from his past pushes him over the edge, though he does try to hold it back, and he unleashes the Alpha Stigma. Though his voice doesn't quite register the drama of it, Ryner's doing what he can to try and stop it because he doesn't want to be seen as a monster from it, especially to Ferris, and seeing the transformation in personality reminds us again why Ryner is quite the interesting character if they let him shine a bit more.
From an action perspective, it takes a little bit to get rolling but it was really nicely done overall as the four fighters face off against each other with the added twist of the relics being used. The flashback to the past towards the end adds a bit more dramatic impact to it as we see a little more of Ryner's past and the Alpha Stigma as well, which is another shaping moment in his personality and why he views himself as a monster when it's unleashed. Tying that to the present, it's a nice hook that doesn't overstay its welcome while giving us reason to come back for more of the action next week. At times, it's still hard to see where this show really wants to go with all of its potential as it seems to wander too much. Having time spent with Ryner in this mode though is a really nice tease that makes me want to see more of it and to get to the heart of it.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Dell 10.1 Netbook via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.