Musashi’s Plot Impact Could Be Too Little, Too Late

The following contains spoilers for Episode 21 of Orient, “Clash of the Shimazu,” now streaming on Crunchyroll.

In Episode 21 of Orient, “Clash of the Shimazu,” Musashi finally has an impact on the plot after weeks of sitting in the background. During the last few weeks, fans have voiced their concern that the series is going in the wrong direction, as it hasn’t given its main character enough screen time or the ability to cope with the situations he’s placed in.

However, many were pleasantly surprised to find Musashi taking the action necessary to save his comrades by destroying the weaponry of Yataro Inuda’s terrifying new form. Hopefully, Orient will continue to allow Musashi to grow in power as the series progresses. Still, some fans have their doubts that this will be the case, and that it might just be a little too late to keep people interested in the show.

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How Does Musashi Impact Orient’s Plot?

The Shimazu brothers take it upon themselves to defeat Yataro Inuda and the Green Kishin’s amalgamated form in an effort to receive the recognition they all desperately seek. While their usual tactic of forming a powerful chain of energy to support their red-bladed sibling, Akihiro Shimazu, has typically enabled them to easily slice and dice any Oni in their path, the behemoth that lies in front of them proves to be more of a challenge.

Inuda’s Kishin has a swarm of swords that produce an array of powerful energy beams, preventing the Shimazu brothers from linking together and creating the power necessary to cut through its horn. The situation seems completely hopeless until Musashi realizes that in order to defeat the creature, each sword must be broken so that the brothers have a chance of coordinating their attacks once more. Musashi’s plan provides the Shimazu with the opening they desperately need (and even saves Natsuki Shimazu along the way) to reconnect and allow Akihiro the strength to defeat the Kishin.

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Is Musashi’s Progress Too Slow to Keep Fans Interested in the Series?

While some were pleased to see Musashi finally take charge and overcome a difficult situation, others have argued that this recent development has come too late to change the course that the series is going in. After 21 episodes, the show’s protagonist is still unable to use his Kitetsu properly or link with his fellow bushi to increase his strength. Although Musashi’s journey was the primary focus of the first half of the series, the second installment has diverted from his evolution to focus on other characters within the world of Hinomoto. This has led the show’s supposed protagonist to swiftly fall behind, both in regard to his impact on the plot and power level.

Instead of growing Musashi to be able to use the goddess’s powers, he is tiny in strength compared to everyone around him. He is essentially just written out of this journey we all started with him. Flashbacks MID combat is a crutch for terrible writing. Writers who can’t get people to feel emotional or emotionally attached to a character always force a flashback of their “terrible” past. Wish newer animes/manga would let that crutch go. – SK8Geek, Crunchyroll Comments, Orient, Episode 21.

It’s difficult to argue against the fact that Orient has taken its time to establish its characters and progress its overarching narrative. Compared to other MCs within the same genre, Musashi lacks the backstory or identifiable traits to make him a truly compelling protagonist. By episode 21 of Naruto, the series’ MC had already helped defeat Zabuza and Haku and was at the start of the Chunin Exams. At this stage, Naruto’s backstory, goals and power level were continuously developing, which showed viewers that he was someone worthy of following. Musashi, on the other hand, has often been pushed to the sidelines, creating a disconnect between him and those watching.

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However, others have contended that the slower pace of the show has been a positive change. Battle-style anime often resort to quickly buffing their MCs in order to make them more interesting or be able to contend with increasingly powerful opponents. While Orient has slowly introduced more capable villains, it has managed to maintain the weaker abilities of its cast of characters since each is not tackling a threat alone. Instead, bushi are forced to work together by connecting their Kitetsu energy or thinking outside the box to take each foe down.

I’m loving the pace of this show with the character and world development, it makes the power-ups so much more impactful IMO. – UndercoverSamurai, Crunchyroll Comments, Orient, Episode 21.

Although Orient may not have achieved this in the most entertaining way possible, it seems like it can only be a positive thing moving forward for the genre. The repetitive cycle of an MC training, becoming stronger and eventually defeating their enemy can only remain interesting for a certain amount of time. For new stories to develop and keep fans interested, things will undoubtedly have to change. Whether Orient has succeeded in this mission has yet to be seen; however, it might be the catalyst required to keep this type of anime fresh moving forward.

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