I’m not sure if Grimoire of Zero has any clue on what it’s trying to achieve. I enjoyed the latter half of Episode 6 more than the previous five and a half episodes, with Zero and Mercenary’s confrontation being the strongest moment of the series so far. The chemistry between the two was so good that the 12-minute info dump of the first part passed as a brief annoyance.
Japanese Title: 十三番
Thirteen was the most lukewarm of antagonists until the latter half of this episode. We learned a bit more about his connection to Zero and how the Grimoire was created. We also learned about the three different sorcerer groups and how the Empire is using witches against witches. I was certainly not expecting that an all-out magic battle would have turned so quickly into a boring info dump over dinner, hurt feelings, and maybe-not-so-poisoned desserts. Politics are great and the dynamics of the world are interesting, but if I wanted to hear a few characters talk story business, I would have preferred a podcast.
Talking about hurt feelings, Albus feels seriously betrayed. I have forgotten that Albus was following them because he was mistaken that both were his allies. His allegiance lies with the Sorcerers of Zero. The relationship he developed with the witch and the beast was weak but genuine. He even got to sleep next to our big tiger, and that kind of friendship is not easily forgotten. I am expecting a shift of allegiances in the near future. Especially, since Zero and Mercenary are going to save him from the stake. Probably.
Of course, it was in the second half that Episode 6 had a chance to really shine. Thirteen is not the lukewarm antagonist I mentioned at the beginning. He is a manipulative sorcerer of a bitch who will do anything to achieve his purpose. Like the little sneaky bastard he is, he takes advantage of Mercenary’s doubts about Zero to turn him against her. His arguments were compelling but I was a little surprised that Mercenary was so quick to believe them.
YOU FOOL: What an amazing moment. Zero is far from a little girl. She might act weird and lack social etiquette but her sincerity and adherence to her moral code is set to stone.
Thirteen found the seed of doubt and turned it into a flame of fear. That means you doubted me.
Themes & Trivia
Betrayal: The main theme of the episode was focused on matters of trust. So many betrayal scenes: Albus feels betrayed by Zero and Mercenary for being naïve enough to think that they were friends. Sorcerers of Zero betrayed by rogue witches and all together betrayed by Sorcerers of the State. Thirteen betrayed by Zero (in a way). Zero betrayed by Thirteen. Mercenary tricked my Zero in a way that made him betray Zero.
I was just naïve to think of you as my friend
War and Tea: That out-of-the-blue dinner reminded me of the popular war myth that British used to drink tea during war (always at 5 o-clock if you believe Asterix). There are, probably exaggerated, accounts of British soldiers ‘demanding’ their national beverage, but the truth is that the British army would not stop the flow of battle to have their sip of Earl Grey. It would have been comical, however, to have the British and the Scottish during the wars of Scottish independence stop for a tea break between the swords swashbuckling. Yet, that’s exactly what the break for dinner in this episode felt like.
Prometheus: The leader of the Sorcerers of Zero and his reasons for stealing the Grimoire reminded me of the mythos of Prometheus. In ancient Greek legends, Prometheus was the greatest benefactor of mankind, as he stole the fire from the Gods to give it to man. From the most ancient historical sources from Hesiod, Homer, Pindar, and Pythagoras to the modern interpretations that started post-Renaissance and have as their latest interpretation Ridley Scott’s Alien prequel of the same name.
Another episode saved by the close bond that has developed between the two protagonists. This standoff was by far my favorite scene in the series so far. Zero’s frustration to Mercenary’s betrayal was emotional and understandable. It only needs a small fracture for the glass of trust to come grumbling down and now I am really curious to see how Thirteen will conclude his scheming, how Mercenary will try to approach Zero, and if Albus will come back as an ally or a villain.
Half the Fun
Usually, the last thing I remember from each episode of Grimoire of Zero is the ending credits. The sweet voice of Chima along with the cute animation gives me enough reasons to return to the show. This time, the final scene was so intense that for the first time I am genuinely waiting for the next episode to see how Mercenary is going to redeem himself for betraying Zero’s trust.