Shadows of the past.
Oh Zen….poor, young prince.
I guess I could be a little hard on you by saying that many of the problems you’re dealing with are those “first world problems” or in your case, “first class/nobility problems”, but I won’t be that mean. I’m just happy that we are continuing to get a good look at our characters, and this time we get a chance to get a closer look at our main male lead.
I have practically had my fill of princes this season. For those who read my Heroic Legend of Arslan posts, you know that that show has no less than two to three princes on screen every single episode, sometimes more. So, I’ve seen quite a lot about the problems that royals get into and the challenges that they have with such responsibility thrust upon their shoulders.
Zen’s story many not be as dangerous or action-filled as Arslan’s, but honestly despite their different time periods, cultures, and storylines, their stories regarding their challenges are similar.
There’s been a change in me. A kind of moving on.
Flashback to the past
Much of the story is told in flashback, as we see a younger adolescent Zen, who one can tell is pretty lonely and awkward as he begins to adjust to encroaching puberty. He’s between that age of boyhood and his later teenage years, where he’s got a lot more responsibility on his shoulders that he’s not really sure what to do with yet. And being a prince, he doesn’t have many of the things that other kids can depend on to try to get them through this period. Something as simple as real friendship is out of his reach.
You know the moment that you see him with young Atri (another admirable job done by Romi Paku), that it will end it tragedy. And indeed, the betrayal does come, and it’s a very harsh blow for the young prince. I felt for him, knowing that this was his only friend and he really, truly wanted this work, so much that he knowingly ignored all the signs of what Atri really was. When haven’t we done something like that? Wanted something so badly, that we ignored the alarm bells that come along with it?
Yes, the poor little rich kid/royal is one that we’ve seen before. I can count off several stories just from recent memory that have a similar plotline. Yet, no matter how much we’ve seen it before, it never seems to lose it’s relevancy for people from all class levels. No matter how poor or rich, how red or blue your blood is, it’s the relationships in our lives that help to shape who we are and who we become. Our relationships with others are extremely important. Not having them can be damaging to the psyche, as we can see from Zen’s obvious loneliness and his acting out that comes from a result of both that and him being at that awkward stage of his life, but also forming a relationship with the wrong person can be just as damaging, as we also see here.
For a boy with little to no parental supervision and an older brother who is both trying to grow up himself and is just as busy as his parents, Zen is basically raising himself. Maids, guards, and attendants can’t take the place of parental guidance, and I have to admit that it shows in Zen’s reckless nature even now. However, I have to admit that he’s a good kid, and he’s becoming a good man with a good head on his shoulders.
For in my dark despair, I finally understood…
Zen and Atri’s relationship ends with a bittersweet aftertaste, but it is one that teaches Zen an important lesson. He learns that he wants to surround himself with the right people, people that he can trust and lean on, ones that can make him better. While I highly doubt that many who are reading this are of royal blood, even us common folk can understand this kind of lesson. If an apple is surrounded by apples that are rosy and perfect on the outside but rotten on the inside, they will all eventually become rotten and you will have to discard the whole bunch, but if you surround it with apples that have a little bit of dirt on them, but inside are sweet and crisp, you can make a pie.
I’m where and who I want to be.
Whether you be prince or pauper, you want to surround yourself with people that will support you and push you to be the best you can be. They can help you to become a better “you”, especially when you’re like Zen, and you’re caught at that stage of knowing what is expected of you, but actively revolting against it because of fear or insecurity. I really liked how Izana knew exactly what Zen was going through (more than likely because he had gone through a similar stage in his own life), and yet he also knew his brother well enough to know that it wasn’t himself that could provide what he needed, and so provided Mitsuhide to become both Zen’s guard, and hopefully a trusted companion. And so the emerald-haired bodyguard became the more intimate big brother that Izana couldn’t be, and it was a friendship that would shape the future ones in Zen’s life, including Kiki, Obi, and Shirayuki herself.
Speaking of Shirayuki, she’s a bit of a side character this time, but I’m glad that they are continuing the storyline regarding the trouble Raji made for her in regards to him calling her Zen’s fiancee. It’s a rumor that will not go away, to the point that Zen has decided to make Obi her unofficial bodyguard. I would like a threat a little more threatening than the paparazzi to appear, this is at least a step in the right direction. Also, I do wonder how long they’ll try to deny that she’s his fiancee, especially since I think all the other side characters and the audience know that that “rumor” will become fact eventually.
And will people stop being surprised at her red hair! I mean, we’re more than halfway into this, you’ve seen it already. It’s red! So what? I would be more understanding if the area this was based on was medieval Japan or something, but when you decide to set it in an area that’s as European storybook as you can get? You can no longer have people be amazed by red hair, it’s just weird at this point.
For now I love the world I see.
This small arc was slow but enjoyable and I liked that we got to see the background of Zen and Mitsuhide’s relationship. I’m just hoping his name isn’t going to eventually be a bad omen, though the connotations would be fascinating. However, even more than that, I loved the moments between Shira and Obi, and that he’s a cute and playful little trickster that has a heart of gold. It will be good to have him around when Zen can’t be there. Also, if I were Shirayuki, I would be plenty pissed if my boss played that kind of trick on me, as I am not that heavy of a drinker either. Yet, her drunk rambling was adorable to see (her Richard III “anything for a horse” line was especially hilarious)….it’s almost worth the morning after. 😛
No change of heart, a change in me…