Last week's episode was a nice breather from all of the action from Yoh's 3 preliminary fights. It was nice seeing Ren gradually warming up to Yoh and his other friends. The episode also had a few surprises including two songs exclusive to the anime and they sounded pretty good (Spotify has your back).
The episode ended on a cliffhanger with Ren about to take on his father's army of Jiangxi (re-animated corpses). What happens next?
This episode adapts Chapters 69 - 72 from the manga. The main events include Ren confronting his father and getting imprisoned, Yoh and gang traveling to Ren's home to rescue him, and Yoh rescuing Ren (and Jun).
Ren makes a pretty big spectacle by easily ramming through his father's Jiangxi army. However, his dad makes a surprise appearance out of nowhere and easily knocks Ren and Bason towards a cliff. Ren declares that he will beat his dad, but Tao En subsequently shows the consequences of opposing him by revealing Li Pailong's corpse pieces and Jun chained up. Furious, Ren attacks his dad, but they do nothing and Tao En easily defeats him.
Ren easily takes out his father's Jiangxi.
Tao En warning his son of the consequences of opposing him.
Yoh and his friends easily sense something wrong as they train under Anna. Bason, having escaped Tao En's grasp, has rushed to Yoh's home to tell them that Ren has been imprison. Yoh, Manta, Horohoro, and Ryu agree to help and they all travel to their friend's home. Meanwhile, Ren and Jun converse in prison with the latter warning Ren that their father is too strong. However, Ren replies that it'll work out and remains determined.
Bason manages to travel all the way back to Japan to tell his friends about Ren's capture.
After some reconnaissance from Amidamaru and Tokageroh, the gang enter the Tao estate and run into Tao En's elite Jiangxi warriors, the Gohukuseitai (Five-star corps). Initially, the Gohukuseitai has the upper hand with a quick strike to Ryu, but Horohoro showcases his upgraded ice abilities to easily dispatch one of the quintuplets. Ryu also manages to get back at the Jiangxi that attacked him (and ruined his pompadour). The two shaman tell Yoh to find and rescue Ren.
Ren and gang arrive at the Tao estate.
Horohoro readies his new move, Hipopo Punch.
Ryu getting revenge on the Jiangxi that attacked him (and ruined his hair).
Yoh breaks Ren and Jun out of their cells. While Ren is thankful, he tells Yoh to go back home as he intends to take on his dad alone. However, Yoh wants to stick around and help his friend out though Ren warns that his "excessive optimism" won't save him. Ren further opens up about his past on how he got his tattoo. He regrets the harm he has done due to his father's indoctrination and he sees defeating his dad as a way of atonement. He concludes that he doesn't want Yoh to die for his selfish cause, but Yoh tells him it'll work out. Ren softens up and finally accepts his assistance before they easily dispatch two Jiangxi and head upstairs.
Yoh breaks Ren and Jun out of prison.
Yoh assuring Ren that things will work out and he has his back.
With this week's episode also adapting 4 chapters like last week's, the pacing was executed incredibly well. It was very faithful to the manga and I would argue it makes certain improvements over the source material, particularly in the art department.
For instance, since the manga is in black and white, some details will fall through the cracks as color serves as a great indicator on a character's feelings and emotion. Near the end when Yoh assured Ren, for a brief moment, Ren blushed. This was quite a big moment as he used to hate Yoh with a passion if you have followed the earlier episodes (or chapters). The same moment in the manga does not pack the same punch.
Continuing with Ren, it's pretty satisfying to see how far his character development has gone. In addition, the series does a very job transitioning him from an edgy, trigger-happy to a more introspective, empathetic character at a gradual pace rather than a sudden heel-face turn. I like how the episode dropped subtle hints of Ren's change with him quoting Yoh's catchphrase and not wanting his friend to die from his selfishness.
While the episode revolved around Ren, it also gave plenty of attention on the other characters. It was nice seeing how Horohoro's powers have evolved ever since his match against Yoh and more of Ryu's abilities. While the animation of their fight against the Gohukuseitai was kind of pedestrian, the episode did a decent job making Horohoro's Nipopo Punch feel impactful and providing a good sense of precision from Ryu's attacks.
My one complaint would be some of the censorship of blood and violence rearing its ugly head again. In the manga, when one of the Gohukuseitai struck Ryu's head, some blood came out of his forehead. However, in the anime, that was taken out. It's not as egregious as the Yoh vs. Faust match, but it's still pretty disappointing.
That said, all-in-all, the anime is doing a fantastic job with Ren's arc thus far and I hope it keeps it up the rest of the way.