We get around to seeing the girl and her Honda Motocompo featured in the opening, the inner picture featuring her origins as a slave. We watch as she perseveres through the Test of Life presented to her in the mountains. A quick cameo by Kino and Hermes, but the focus is on the raven-haired slave girl who finds salvation and a reason to live in the form of her warden and a humble herb that laid waste to man’s hubris.
I’m going to say, the little blond brat really annoyed me here. I understand that Photo was a slave, but it was still quite hard for me to stomach. I consider this similar to the slaver episode from the 2003 series and if anything, these might be connected to them. Photo was used as part of payment of goods and service purchased from the merchant caravan, and considering the slavers in the first series had all sorts of trinkets and goods, it’s not really a stretch for me.
The episode was done mostly in the point of view of Photo, and the merchant caravan making camp alongside a mountain spring high above the clouds. It is clear that most of them are willingly spiteful of Photo, whom they abuse and chain up, though only one, the guard, shows some inkling of compassion. One of the more hotheaded merchants explain the background through his mockery. He laments the nation that Photo came from, the fact they were willing to rid of an orphan to remove a burden to themselves, that they are willing to lie about her usefulness, and also that Photo still believes in the tenets of her nation’s faith.
This is central to the episode, as Photo was willingly taking all the abuse because of her faith. She has an idealistic view of the world, extremely bruised really. When the caravan members died from their own hubris, the guard remembered what she had said and committed an assisted suicide to ensure she manages to find her worth and purpose in life. That the priest that had sold her wanted to see the vast world, or that she would have a good future ahead of her. It was her test that would determine the future.
When that came about, I was reminded of one of the basic central teachings of the fictional Judeo-Christian sect from David Weber’s Honorverse universe, the Church of Humanity Unchained. It is the concept of the ‘Test of Life’. Copying from the Honorverse wiki, the Test of Life is the belief of the fictional world of Grayson’s inhabitants, that God (whom they refer to as the ‘Tester’), is constantly testing His children. He is forcing them to face challenges to find their worth, and in going through the great Test of Life, prove themselves worthy of eternal life.
It didn’t click initially but a second watch made that connection for me. I’m pretty sure that the guard saw she was not an ideal fit to join them in the afterlife. Photo was innocent of the circumstances that she found herself in, and had just broken down from simply thinking of letting them die. Of all the people in the group, he was clearly the most redeemable person there.
Now don’t get me wrong, he still deserved the death he got for not outright freeing the girl, or at least purchasing her from the patriarch of the group, but he showed some remorse, pity, and compassion to the girl. In the end, he left the world of his own volition, while also ensuring that Photo would be able to be free, having removed her shackles before his death.
Sou had nothing nice to say about them, no doubt echoing the sentiments of the audience at this point. It seems that he has observed and seen all that has happened before, and would be the one to help fulfil what Photo had thought the priest had meant when he offered her up as payment to the merchants. The ending was sweet, and I do share Sou’s thoughts that Photo rarely thinks of her beginnings now that she had managed to wander around, find wealth, and a home she can grow successful from.
Even having Kino and Hermes only in the episode to verify the death of the haughty caravan merchants was enough for me, there was no need for the pair to meet with a newly freed Photo, though an established Photo would be nice to have them visit, and for Kino and Hermes to realize who she was when she recounts her story.
Now that we’ve finished with Shizu, Riku, Ti, Photo, and Sou; I can only imagine the next members of Kino’s life would be the woman and man featured in the sides of the Cannon and Woodsman, who I still insist is the younger versions of Shishou and her travelling companion. The title for the next episode might mean there is a narrative in which Kino recounts her past and the past of her master, but I am still unsure right now. There isn’t much to go on for someone like me who has no access to the original source material for any sort of reference, but I think I prefer it this way.
It allows a wonderful story like this week’s episode to be told.
This was rather short, only doing my thoughts due to the next two weeks being busy. An early congratulation to my younger sister and her fiancée for more happy days ahead of them, even though their wedding is going to be held next week. And for more opportunities for me, my future brother-in-law, and my dad to roast aforementioned younger sister.