Anime Best in Show

Review: To the Abandoned Sacred Beasts Episode 05 – Best In Show

Quick Summary

In To the Abandoned Sacred Beasts Episode 05, "Gargoyle's Judgment," Hank Henriette and Nancy Schaal Bancroft rush to another town because Liza Renecastle has intelligence that Cain Madhouse  was the likely culprit in a string of recent murders. When Hank examines the latest victim, though, he sees massive claw marks quite unlike anything Cain was capable of inflicting. Does that mean the intelligence is wrong? Is there some other Incarnate on the rampage? And why does the little boy named Andy keep glaring at Hank?

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

Best Moment in the Show

Schaal's still trying to work through her feeling for Hank and what he's had to do. In the meantime, she didn't see any reason not to be neighborly. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream

If you've ready any of my previous Best in Show reviews of this series, then you know I'm fond of it. The concept's interesting and the characters are keeping my interest. The last two episodes in particulate delivered some emotionally powerful tragedy. 

But despite all that positivity, there's been one question that's bothered me since episode 2. No, it's not "Why can't Liza find a blouse with buttons," even though as Andy demonstrated in this episode (8:09), buttons would have come in handy. The question that's been bothering me is "Why doesn't Hank or even Liza tell Schaal what's going on?" She's a bright young woman. Surely she'd find the whole story useful!

In this episode, Hank not only answered the question, he helped give me my Best in Show moment.

Schaal came into Hank's room just after he had thrown his coat on the nightstand. She tried to ask him about an earlier conversation, but he just wrapped himself in a blanket and rolled away from her. She didn't seem to feel insulted. She seemed to be more disappointed. Then she saw the bullet hole in Hank's coat and remembered why it was the same size as her rifle's bullets. That's because she had shot him in the tavern a few episodes ago!

A little later, Hank woke up, a little confused (3:57). The oil lamp was burning, and he heard someone with musical talent humming nearby. He sat up, seeing Schaal seated and facing away from him. She was mending his coat. 

Even though she probably suspected some portion of the tale, Hank's full story had to strike her like a hammer-blow! But to her credit, she took it all in without interruption. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream

When he sat up, the blanket fell away, and he was shirtless. She didn't gawk or get embarrassed or react to the sight of him at all. For a few moments, they talked about how they had both grown up in an orphanage. It became clear that she was having a hard time keeping her hatred for him alive. For his part, he was remembering a time when Elaine would sew his clothes in the orphanage. It was a beautiful, emotionally intimate moment without eroticism or any kind of posturing. 

Her blue eyes were what did it. He remarked that he'd known someone with blue eyes like that, and suddenly he spilled the whole story. About how Cain had killed Elaine. About how he had to track down and kill the Incarnates -- and why. 

Even without Hank explaining himself, the moment would have been my favorite in this episode. Reading Schaal into the program was just dramatic icing on the cake!

What did you think of Schaal's development in this episode? What was your Best in Show moment? Let me know in the comments!

6 thoughts on “Review: To the Abandoned Sacred Beasts Episode 05 – Best In Show

  1. I did really like this scene, but Schaal? She’s a bit overshadowed by the cliché she’s based on. You know, women mend your clothes and then get abducted. They’re also naturally empathetic, so of course they’ll understand. It’s… just the template. I don’t see much of a character beyond that. The show’d be much more interesting if they’d play tug of war on a theme where they’re on opposite ends. All in all, this was probably the episode that drew me in the least.

    Doesn’t help that I have an instinctive dislike of justice fanatics like our gargoyle here.

    And finally, the more of the sacred beasts they bring down, the more I wonder why the first case seemed so different (like a sudden rage you’re powerless against; a divided personality). And the more I see, the more I feel like that difference might just be the set-up, so we’re feeling more justified in the killing. I wonder.

    In a way, this show is the photo-negative of Fairy Gone for me: I’m pessimistic about the big picture, but I can enjoy the single episodes as good pulp fiction. Strange how this works out sometimes.

    1. “She’s a bit overshadowed by the cliché she’s based on. You know, women mend your clothes and then get abducted.”

      TBH, I hesitated to use this as my Best in Show moment for that very reason. It’s something I pondered. But I went ahead for two reasons.

      First, I thought the emotional intimacy between the two of them was beautiful. Regardless of anything outside of that moment, they were communicating with each other, and I liked that.

      Second, this story is set in a semi-alternative timeline to the US Civil War. Her role would have been clearly defined, if not definitively enforced. After all, the majority of women would become care-givers in some way, but we still saw people like Annie Oakley rise in popularity. So Schaal’s attitude and her vision of what she could accomplish was necessarily influenced by that public sentiment.

      Sometimes, I have to disentangle my modern understanding of what it means to be human and what it meant in the past. This was one of those times.

      “Doesn’t help that I have an instinctive dislike of justice fanatics like our gargoyle here.”

      Do you find your dislike is getting more intense over time? Mine is. The more I see the kind of damage people with that attitude inflict, the more I dislike them…

      ” And the more I see, the more I feel like that difference might just be the set-up, so we’re feeling more justified in the killing. I wonder.”

      Interesting question. Even if I’m still uneasy with each death (and if I’m being honest, except the Gargoyle’s!), I’m still wondering if it’s really necessary. But the narrative is being either neutral or mute on that point.

      1. ********Sometimes, I have to disentangle my modern understanding of what it means to be human and what it meant in the past. This was one of those times.***********

        That’s actually not my point, here. It’s more a characterisation poin than a moral point. You can write the same character with more of an inside view, if you will. For what it’s worth, I don’t think her characterisation is much worse than Hank’s. Some of the side characters come across more clearly. But still, I wouldn’t say this is a character focussed show. The characters are fine for the story they’re in, but they’re not particularly interesting in themselves.

        **********Do you find your dislike is getting more intense over time? Mine is. The more I see the kind of damage people with that attitude inflict, the more I dislike them…*************

        Well, I’m Austrian and I was born in the 70ies, during the height of “Vergangenheitsbewältigung” (loosely “coping with the past”). So as a child I instinctively associated moral conviction with the WW2 atrocities. No, it’s not really getting worse; this as a very basic dislike somewhere deep at the foundations of who I am. It goes hand in hand with a core uncertainty about myself. I have very few convictions and I’m uncertain about things I know (i.e. I’m the type of person who has to go back to check if he locked the door). My reaction isn’t actually very intense, usually. More a mix between sarcastic and resigned.

        See, one thing you learn when you’re me and grow up in 70ies Austria is that Nazis and people who hate Nazis often give off the same emotional mood when they’re angry, and that’s just generally frightening. I grew up thinking people just generally suck. If anything, I’ve mellowed down.

  2. I’m really enjoying this show. Not only has it got an interesting storyline, the action and animation are really cool, and the characters really have some depth to them as well. You are so right about that moment though. It’s almost as if at that point, all the bariers that were between them up until that point just fell away. It was another great episode all around, an I can’t wait to see where the story will take us next ?

    1. “It’s almost as if at that point, all the bariers that were between them up until that point just fell away.”

      I really like that description! I’m really interested to see where their relationship goes. Part of me will be disappointed if it veers toward the romantic, because that would almost feel cliche; plus she’s a bit young. Just have to wait and see, I guess!

      1. I’m hoping the same, but I have the feeling it won’t turn into something romantic. Not sure why, but well..just a feeling. We’ll have to wait and see I guess ?

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