ViVid Strike! Episode 8: The Victor and the Defeated
Fuck. Neither the outcome of the match nor its aftermath were what I wanted. I’m not sure anyone even expected this. Trust Strike to continue to be everything ViVid was not by cutting short what looked like a lengthy tournament arc in the making. Fuuka and Einhart are still around even if Vivio has dropped out, but the Winter Cup basically no longer matters for two reasons: (i) we know that Fuuka will in all likelihood lose to Einhart even if she gets that far; and (ii) somewhere down the line Rinne became the de facto protagonist. As interesting as it would be to learn how much Fuuka has grown, it honestly doesn’t feel like it’d be very significant because Rinne has mattered the most for quite some time now. And that’s why her loss was such a twist.
I really wanted her to win. At first it was just because I was rooting for my cute waifu and it’d make for stable story progression in light of her future encounter with Fuuka. Given that this isn’t her spin-off, I also wanted Vivio’s lingering protagonist tendencies to be toned down a notch. It’s not like I enjoy seeing Vivio in pain, but if I had to choose I’d rather it be Vivio than Rinne. What I didn’t factor in at all, however, was something more concerning that only came to light after the match – Rinne is taking this loss really, really badly. It cannot possibly have been beneficial for her to have lost this episode. I’d much rather see her continue down her path of darkness and later be saved by Fuuka, because now the alternative is that her loss by knockout to Vivio has brought all her trauma back. It broke my heart to see her crying in the toilet like that. And worst of all, she didn’t even have anyone to rely on. I’ve said this every week for a while now and I’m going to say it again: Rinne needs hugs. I want to hug her and never let go.
That being said, it’s not like beating Vivio would have exactly helped. The thoughts that ran through Rinne’s mind about her were really vicious. Too vicious to be coming from such a cute girl. There was so much hatred towards Vivio and her apparently perfect, comfortable life. Admittedly Rinne is… not entirely wrong, in the sense that the most significant problems in ViVid seemed to revolve around the side-effects borne by its various characters having won the genetic lottery, but objectively Rinne currently doesn’t have it bad either. She’s a renowned martial artist from a rich family, and she’s letting what she doesn’t have blind her from what she does. I guess it just indicates how deep her psychological wounds are. It’s like she’s projecting the image of her former bullies on nice girls like Vivio and Miura, and taking it out on them to prove a point to herself. I’m also wondering whether her loss suggests that the standard befriending tactics won’t work on her as well as they have on Nanoha’s opponents in the past. Even if Fuuka talks to her, she might not be willing to listen and a loss to her without more will mean nothing.
And then there’s Jill. She confuses me more than anything. Is she trying to help, or does she have her own agenda with her whole nature over nurture rhetoric? She took this loss incredibly badly, and I don’t know whether it was because she knew a loss to Vivio would severely harm Rinne’s mental wellbeing, or because it meant she indirectly lost to the Nove she seems to hate so much. I do think Jill understands her very well, but at times it felt like she was more distressed about her own failure to prove her point and the potential that Rinne may decide to fire her instead of the fact that the poor girl in question currently crying her eyes out in a toilet stall and desperately needs someone to emotionally support her.
I just hope she’s okay. I wonder how she’ll find it in her to return to martial arts, if at all. Facing Vivio again and winning would be cathartic, but the mental block Rinne currently has in relation to her must be enormous. Not only did she lose by decision, but now she’s also been knocked into unconsciousness by the same supposedly light-hitting opponent. Arguably she only lost because she was restricted by the Winter Cup rules, but a loss is a loss. She agreed to those conditions when signing up. It’d be like Lutecia participating in the Winter Cup and being a sore loser when she jobs to a random martial artist who’d clearly be weaker than her if it was a free-for-all. And beyond all this, how will they give meaning to a match between Fuuka and Rinne? Will Rinne learn something after listening to the commentary on Fuuka’s match over the intercom?
Fucking hell. I really didn’t sign up for more Rinne suffering. This is why we can’t have nice things.