Episode Review: Trails of Cold Steel – Northern War ep 10

What makes a hero a hero?
After the shocking ending of episode 9, after Lavi miraculously kept his life and pulled a Kira Yamato where she was saved by a priest and transported to her family home far away. Our heroine properly went through her stages of grief pretty quickly in the span of 24 minutes, then found her resolve to fight for the future, the people she love and her country.

We got introduced to Lavi’s mother. She is very caring but also stern. A proper daughter, wife and mother of the hero blood. Lavi’s father didn’t escape the Jaeger’s fate but her mother is still alive and well. It’s likely that she hasn’t seen her daughter in a long time and the next time she saw Lavi, she was on death’s doors. However, she kept it together very well and didn’t show any weakness, which is very impressive. She also understands what she needs to do and what Lavi needs as well.

As a single mom of a rebellious girl, she didn’t display any excessive worry but showed just the right amount of care and caution. Lavi’s definitely still in her phase, but she definitely got a soft spot for her mom. The art in this episode is great. Seeing Lavi’s blushing face and sad face, then positive determination is a very nice change of pace compared to her angsty emotionless face in the previous episodes.

The country’s heading to hell with Rogan at the helm, bullying the citizens and taking strong-armed stance against the Empire. The Erebonia Empire is right in front of their doorstep waiting for the order to strike. Meanwhile Rogan’s enforcing martial law within the country and sent his goons out to catch Lavi. But then those idiots went and burned an entire village’s field. I mean it’s typical for dumb grunts but these guys look like they are close to Rogan more than your usual merc, so there’s no reason for them to act like complete morons here.

But thanks to those guys, we got to see and witness a badass. Dr. Derek is pretty awesome. A retired Jaegers that became a life saver in search of the answer to why Vlad did what he did. And after decades, he didn’t get the answer to his question, but found out about other things – and passed it to Lavi along with everyone else’s feelings. Lavi finally understood the meaning of what it means to be a hero. A hero isn’t a title you achieve with blood and power, a hero isn’t the person with glory lasting a hundred years, a hero is someone who protect others and others want to protect him. A hero is birthed when the people around him recognizes him for who he is, and as such, everyone can be a hero in their own right. Lavi has realized this simple truth, after carrying the curse and blood of the hero for all her life, only now does she understand its implications and responsibility.

Amazing episodes with some really great frames. The emotional impact and the messages of heroism is actually quite touching and relatable. We only have about 2 episodes left but I hope the series can continue with this quality, and at least conclude the series on a high note. It had an extremely rocky start but the series slowly grew into a proper war drama JRPG adaptation. But still, it fell short of an “exciting” and “interesting” plot and the production quality isn’t something to write home about. Anyway, we’ll see more in the next 2 weeks.

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