Aiyoku no Eustia was August’s first venture into the low fantasy genre. Naturally, August’s writers felt the need to experiment with many ideas and see what would work. Overall, I was impressed by what Aiyoku no Eustia had to offer – although the writing needs polishing, Chapter 3 onwards had many great ideas carried by fantastic execution through its characters.
Despite my overall positive impression of Eustia, its second chapter left a bad taste in my mouth – and judging by reactions from Twitter and IRC, my opinion isn’t unique. Still, Eris’s chapter wasn’t completely terrible – it’s saved by some neat ideas, but dragged down by clumsy and inconsistent presentation.
For this post, I’ll try to explain the good, bad, and terrible ideas in Chapter 2 of Aiyoku no Eustia.
Spoilers for Aiyoku no Eustia Chapter 2 ahead.
The Good: Caim
For most of the prologue, all we knew about Caim was him being a survivor of the Gran Forte, sold into prostitution and turned into an assassin to escape his fate. Chapter 2 brings insight to his character by revealing the motivation for his actions: the last words of his brother.
Caim is haunted by his brother’s last words. Instead of becoming a proper human being, he fell into the lowest stratum of Novus Aether, forced to wallow in mud and staining his hands with blood just to survive. After freeing himself from his job as an assassin, he struggles to find purpose in his existence, driven by his dead brother’s words – though he fails to realize this until Chapter 2’s conflict boils over. He thinks that he bought Eris out of prostitution out of guilt, but – as the story points out – it was, subconsciously, because he thought it was the “right” thing to do. This is brought up again later in the story, as a lot of Caim’s actions in the story tie back into his brother’s last words.
The Bad: Bernardo
Now we go into what ruins Chapter 2. Bernardo is a terrible villain. From his first scene, his introduction almost screams “I’M A VILLAIN, I DO VILLAINY THINGS” into your face. He acts like a sleazy bastard to Melt and uses his goons to trash Vinoleta. This is right after Melt made a “he wasn’t such a bad guy before” talk with Sieg and Caim. His only purpose in the story is literally to create conflict. Most of his characterization is second-hand – the reader is forced to accept that Bernardo is bullying Sieg because of an inferiority complex.
The resulting conflict, however, gives Sieg the spotlight. His character as a leader is tested throughout the arc as his organization gets cornered by Bernardo’s subordinates. Serving as contrast to Bernardo’s vitriol, Sieg – though shaken by Bernardo’s violence – remains collected as we see him work behind the scenes to retake control over the Prison.
The Terrible: Eris
Eris’s characterization in the prologue and first chapter resembled a certain Hitagi Senjougahara from the Monogatari series. When I started Eustia, I was sure she was going to be my favorite character – her sharp tongue and slightly psycho-stalker tendencies made her stand out from the rest of the heroines in the prologue.
Chapter 2 proceeds to ruin all that.
In Chapter 2, Eris does the most idiotic things possible, as if she only exists to annoy Caim – and by extension, the reader. Throughout this chapter, Eris’s personality switches back and forth between an incontinent, Caim-dependent character who intentionally (?) breaks things to get Caim’s attention and her established character from the first two arcs. All of her supposed “doll-like” traits were only brought to the reader’s attention in Chapter 2, and in a manner that makes it seem like Eris is only there to give Caim more problems. Although I mentioned that Caim’s past is the highlight of this chapter, it was brought out by Eris’s inconsistent character, which results to a terrible execution of a decent idea.
However, the worst part is that Eris is literally irrelevant to the bigger conflict that’s happening in the chapter. Bernardo even kindly points this out – her “betrayal” was literally useless and makes the resulting punishment seem completely avoidable if Eris didn’t act like a complete moron throughout the entire arc.
Chapter 2’s characterization of Caim becomes an important point for the rest of the story. However, Eris’s character is handled so poorly that it makes it hard to justify her being the character that brings out Caim’s motivation to the reader’s attention. Chapter 2 is the lowest point of Aiyoku no Eustia: a bad mark which – although it’s an exaggeration to say that it ruins the story – mars an otherwise great presentation of ideas.