“In which our hero thinks slavery is a good idea.”
Welp, here we are at the halfway point of the cour and we finally have our big battle scene—which, while welcome, is more than a little anticlimactic.
On one hand, this is a good thing. The battle, despite being predictable, shows just how good of a leader Benimaru is. Instead of meeting the enemy on an open field, he uses his superior intelligence gathering and knowledge of the terrain to set up an ambush for the enemy army. Then, he basically uses the Orcs’ earth magic to trap the majority of the enemy combatants in what is essentially a giant pitfall trap. All that’s left is to mop up the stragglers and the enemy commanders. Of course, the downside to this is a meta one for us viewers: instead of being able to feast on an exciting battle scene, we are treated to the most one-sided curb-stomping of the entire series so far.
That said, the fights against the enemy elites do a lot to mitigate this. The episode does a good job at pairing up fighters who seem to be of similar strength to one another—i.e., Albis and Gobta versus Yamza, Phobio and Geld versus the clowns, and Suphia and Gabiru versus Milim’s priests. Moreover, these tense battles fit naturally within the context of the story. Not only do the beastmen have a personal stake in each of their fights, the more powerful individuals of Rimuru’s entourage—i.e., the Oni—have an even more dangerous mission to accomplish that leaves them absent from the battlefield: the rescue of Carrion from Clayman’s stronghold.
However, as always, looming in the background is the fact that Rimuru could have handled the majority of this battle by himself, with the exception of luring in the enemy army and the assault on Clayman’s castle (which has to happen at the same time as Walpurgis to assure Clayman will be absent). Opening up a giant pit and then exterminating the enemy generals—similarly to how he did it against Falmuth—would only take him minutes and leave his people completely out of danger, though they would likely be a bit annoyed at missing out on getting some well-deserved vengeance. Luckily, leaving his subordinates to fight the war without him doesn’t seem as irresponsible as it once did thanks to Benimaru’s overwhelming battlefield competence this episode.
What is a bit more troubling is Rimuru’s plans for what comes after the dust settles. At first, it seems like our mass-murdering hero is being lenient in his fight against Clayman’s forces: those who survive the pit traps and surrender will be captured instead of killed. Of course, moments later we learn what “surrender” means in this case: slavery. All POWs will be forced to rebuild the Beast Kingdom, presumably through hard, backbreaking labor.
While they are no doubt an invading army, there is a very real possibility that these people are merely Clayman’s puppets—magical slaves bound to his will like Mjurran was. If this is the case, they bear no responsibility for their actions, and being freed from one master only to be forced to serve another seems unspeakably cruel.
On top of this is the fact that these soldiers have killed no one—all the civilians were evacuated beforehand. Likewise, they are not the ones who destroyed the Beast Kingdom’s capital: that was Milim. If she was mind-controlled to do it, the blame rests on Clayman. If, however, she was only pretending to be mind-controlled, then the blame rests completely with her (and she should rebuild the damn thing herself). Either way, the soldiers are not responsible for what happened there. And honestly, assuming things continue on as they have been, I’d be shocked if by the end of the day Clayman wasn’t overthrown with Rimuru gaining his territory.
Enslaving a sizable population of your newly conquered lands probably isn’t the precedent you want to be setting as a supposedly peaceful dictator.
• Anyone else worried that cutting out so much wood for Treyni’s body could be bad for the sacred tree?
• Given her excited fluttering, Ramiris seems just as happy as Treyni at the new doll body.
• So Oni are strong against mental attacks? Good to know. I also get the feeling that Shuna is completely immune to them (and can make others immune as well) based on how she is acting.
• Um… was it ever established that tiger girls can fly? …cuz if so, I clearly missed that part.