Anime Best in Show

Review: Midnight Occult Civil Servants Episode 10 – Best in Show

Quick Summary

In Midnight occult civil servants episode 10, "White Cocoon and Blue Flames," Satoru Kanoichi asks Arata Miyako to help them on one more case. They enter one of the incomplete Olympic venues to see hundreds or thousands of silken eggs. Miyako opens one to see a humanoid child-like being, and he recoils. Satoru pushes his ideas that Arata's Ears of Sand are useless -- after all, can talking to the creatures in the eggs bring them any closer to a solution? Arata has no answer. After Satoru dismisses him, Arata leaves, humiliated. It doesn't help that Kohaku mentions some feast of the gods and new clothes! Is Arata really wrong -- is talking to the Anothers worse than useless? 

Note: This post may include spoilers, so be cautious. 

Best Moment in the Show

I'm not sure I could trust any human who could gleefully burn thousands of creatures like this. Conscience is one of the things that defines a human as human. ​Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

In the previous episode, we saw Satoru brutally murder a defenseless Another. That should be an objective evil, right? Well, the writers for this show are more subtle than that. That's one of the things I'm really enjoying about this show! The characters and plot get an idea across without being preachy or obvious about it. There's a scene in this episode that was not only a perfect example, it was my favorite moment of the episode.

The heated conversation between Satoru and Arata at the end of the last episode left some room for debate. There's no doubt that some Anothers harm humans. We've seen it throughout this whole series! The open question is whether any reputable morality would condone Satoru's approach. The reason that was still under debate was because when it comes to humans, morality often comes down to intent. If you kill someone, did you intend to defend yourself? Or did you intend to eliminate a rival?

What is Satoru's motive? We got a critical insight in this episode when Satoru invited Arata to "help" him in the stadium. Arata was taken aback when he saw the stadium full of cocoons. Satoru said his team had tried to deal with it, but the sheer scale was beyond them. "But if you can use your Ears of Sand to talk to the Another, it would help us a lot," Satoru said (7:16).

But it soon became clear that Satoru had very different intentions. After looking inside the cocoons, Arata learned that he couldn't talk to the undeveloped creatures. Looking around, Arata realized that the bigger problem was the Another who was leaving the cocoons. But Satoru, seeing Arata's hesitation, pounced.

"Did you hear something? Did they say something?" His derision grew the more he spoke. When Arata confronted him, Satoru said, smiling, "Well, then, we have to eliminate them. If you can't do this, we'll have to burn them." 

If Satoru had dealt with Arata in good faith, we could conclude that he had good intentions and honestly wanted to protect humans from Anothers. But instead of even exploring that idea, Satoru used his time and effort to ridicule Arata. He even went so far as to tell Arata that he was in the way and not to come back to this assignment.

I appreciated that the writers invested in making Satoru's motives clear! Because with that question settled, I was able to watch karma strike Satoru right in the face with a clean conscience. 

6 thoughts on “Review: Midnight Occult Civil Servants Episode 10 – Best in Show

  1. Anime tends to operate on an in-group/out-group distinction on a more fundamental level than western media, so I doubt it’s a straightforward comment. It’s definitely a grudge, but I’m fairly sure that there’s a level of humans-first that the show doesn’t question and that should help us understand Kanoichi. The show isn’t on his side, obviously, and it’s definitely pro-communication. But there’s a whiff of he-has-a-point to it all, too, IMO.

    I’m reminded of the goblin-killing in Grimgar, where the goblins have been somewhat humanised, but they visual langauge still made the scene more palatable. Imagine if the party hadn’t killed a goblin, a low-level grunt of a group of brigands. What sort of people to send to fetch water? There you are. It’s the same here: the scene is easier to take because we burn cocoons with spiritual fire. Imagine the same scene but they’re pouring gasoline over cribs with babies in them to get what I mean. I have similar problems with many anime – the way Silver Spoon treats butadon, for example, falls into that lane, too.

    I’m really curious about the solution here, and it’s not so much about Kanoichi himself. I’m also curious about Arata’s boss. He appears very pragmatic, his problem being consequences rather than ethics (understandable in his position). So what sort of decision will Arata be forced to make next episode? Will his department support him? Will he be forced to go against official policy? The situation at hand is a potential in-world game changer, but I’m not yet convinced the show intends to use it as such. On the other hand, the way they brought up inter-department politics is definitely intentional. We’ll see.

    1. “But there’s a whiff of he-has-a-point to it all, too, IMO.”

      I can see that. I’m doubly glad we got to see how Kanoichi treated Arata in the stadium; that really did remove any doubt I had.

      “Imagine if the party hadn’t killed a goblin, a low-level grunt of a group of brigands. ”

      I think you’ve made this point before (maybe even in one of your Goblin Slayer comments), and the more I think about it, the more I tend to agree. The idea even surfaced in the collab review I’ll publish tomorrow about Demon Slayer — when we first see Inosuke Hashibira, I had to myself, if I hadn’t seen him in the OP/ED, would I have recognized him as a demon slayer, or would I have assumed he was a monster? Honestly, the answer’s a bit embarrassing.

      “The situation at hand is a potential in-world game changer”

      I’ve under estimated the show before, but I doubt they’ll go that big. I’m guessing it’ll be a personal victory for Arata and a related victory for his prefectural staff.

      But the show’s surprised me before!

    1. I can’t help but wonder if they’ve portrayed him the way they have to comment on some of the goings on in today’s world. I mean, beating the drum of “protect your tribe” (in this case, humans) has been used to justify an awful lot of, well awful!

      1. Agreed. Though I think Satoru’s reasons are even more petty than that. Based on the flashback, it seemed like he hates Anothers because a particularly nasty one drove his father insane. So it’s really just a grudge. That’s what I’m thinking.

        1. “So it’s really just a grudge. That’s what I’m thinking.”

          Sure looks that way!

          A grudge supported by narrow-mindedness!

          That’s an unhealthy combination!

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