The back half of S-CRY-ed is a far more entertaining experience than the first half, though once again I will say the show hasn’t aged well compared to my memory of it. Still as things escalate towards a finale the “enemy of the week” format is dropped entirely and it makes for a more interesting time, if nothing else. Let’s take a look!
Eight months after Kazuma and Ryuho’s last fight, both of the fighters have disappeared. Tachibana, Scheris and Mimori search for Ryuho, while Kanami looks for Kazuma. Back on the Mainland, a man known as Kyouji Mujo reveals to Zigmar he has reinforced HOLY with the Alter users who have been captured in the previous months…
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Ryuho defends the very people he’d been making miserable a few months earlier… classic!
As the synopsis states the back half of S-CRY-ed starts with a small timeskip after the big clash between dual protagonists Kazuma and Ryuho caused a “second great uprising”. The first few episodes do the old role-reversal and has an amnesiac Ryuho happen upon Kazuma’s little sister-like friend Kanami, who had been forced into slavery by a Native Alter user and his gang. Ryuho stops the Alter user then begins to stay with Kanami and the other freed slaves as a guardian to their settlement, including protecting them from his old colleague Scheris and HOLY, the organisation he was almost religiously devoted to. He’s told he used to be a member but decides he wants to stay, even after Scheris tries to take advantage of the situation and claim they used to be in love. She decides to stay with him and even attempts to help Ryuho against HOLY members Kigetsuki (who’s Alter takes the form of three women who he can control) and Unkei, the Alter user who can write a script and force people to act it out. Ryuho shows new power connected to “The Other Side”, the multicoloured dimension Ryuho and Kazuma opened up when they clashed at the end of Episode 13, and defeats both foes.
While this is going on Ryuho’s childhood friend Mimori and ex-HOLY member Tachibana are out looking for him but end up meeting an amnesiac Kazuma, who is competing in an underground Alter v Alter fight club. He eventually escapes (from the club and Ryuho’s old friends) and has a few brief flashes of Kanami and his now deceased friend Kimishima but still doesn’t regain much of his old self. He meets Ayase, the Native Alter Kimishima had a thing for who was captured by HOLY, who reveals those captured are experimented on to be mind-controlled slaves and soldiers for the Mainland. He defeats her but she soon commits suicide anyway as she was only fighting for a young brother who then died during their fight, and it’s here where Kazuma meets out lead antagonist: Kyouji Mujo. He had been appearing since Episode 14 as the big exec from the Mainland who was taking over HOLY but here we see he has a great interest in the “Other Side” and Alter powers, having power himself including a funky multicoloured eye that was a result of trying to peer into the Other Side himself. Mujo is a great villain so long as you want a villain that is completely lacking in ANY subtly. He’s completely over-the-top in a fun way but don’t expect any flashbacks or scenes where he’s given any real motivation or personality beyond “not very nice arrogant man”.
Mujo during one of his more subtler speeches…
Thanks to the interference of the always over-designed Straight Cougar all our lead protagonists end up meeting up at Ryuho’s village, where they combine forces to defeat the previously mentioned Kigestsuki and his “Three Sisters” ability. The reunion is short lived however as Biff, the Native Alter user who Kazuma defeated right at the start of the series, arrives and kidnaps Kanami. Mujo reveals that the “I see a man in my dreams” narrative framing device Kanami had been speaking at the end of each episode was actually her power to psychically see and feel other people, a power that hasn’t yet fully awakened but he wants to use it for himself anyway. By arranging for a furious Ryuho and Kazuma to attack a satellite weapon in orbit with such power that it opens the Other Side again, Mujo pops across the boundary and absorbs the Star Platinum-looking Alter that killed Ryuho’s parents and gains so much power that he rearranges the entire HOLY HQ building into a weird steampunk labyrinth with a thought. This sets the scene for the big final showdown as Kazuma, Ryuho, Cougar, Scheris and Mimori arrive at the building to take Mujo down, soon joining forces with other HOLY members who weren’t really into the whole kidnapping and following a clearly evil leader thing.
We get a few episodes of tying up some lose ends, including previous HOLY leader Martin Zigmarl revealing his Alter Power and attacking Ryuho but actually teaching him how to use his Alter power’s true form before dying by over-using hi Alter power. This leads to Ryuho fighting the mysterious Alter that killed his parents but losing, only to be revived by Scheris revealing HER Alter powers, which apparently could bring him back to life at the cost of her own, a final expression of love. Meanwhile Cougar reveals his full power but is defeated and seemingly killed by Mujo and Kazuma finishes off Biff and the other converted Native Alter users and meets up with the grieving Ryuho, the rivals teaming up to confront Mujo and save Kanami. Ryuho finally defeats the Black Alter while Kazuma manages to overcome Mujo… only for him to reform as a weird mutated blob before our lead protagonist destroys him once and for all again anyway. There are actually two more episodes after this big ending that see Kazuma and Ryuho fight against a large invading army of Mainland ships and planes, keeping their home safe, and then the two of them having a “final fight” to see who truly was better, a fight that gets broadcast across the land. It’s quite the brutal fight, eventually losing the Alter powers and resorting to proper fist-fighting. The epilogue shows us that our two “heroes” continued to protect their island from the mainland, allowing its people to live in peace.
Zigmarl reveals his Alter power just in time to die without doing much of anything. Hooray!
While this half is far more focused on telling one interesting story, some things fell flat. Ryuho got plenty of character development but Kazuma never shook free of the “bad ass who likes to fight and protect everybody” mould he was cast into. Most of the other HOLY members are still just cartoony caricatures that begin to feel more and more out of place as the series goes on, like Elian, who could use technology to view things, turning out to be the cloned son of HOLY leader Martin Zigmarl in one of the most pointless reveals ever as it has zero impact on anything given it’s revealed just as Zigmarl dies, plus Elian goes on to do nothing. Then there’s Urizane who’s entire character is “nice guy who eats watermelons” and has the Alter power to transport people in melon-looking pods… that’s it. That’s his entire arc, really. Supporting characters don’t need a tonne of backstory and attention but SOME would be nice when they run across the whole series!
Also I’ll mention Straight Cougar, who is revealed to have been a brother-like figure to Kazuma before joining HOLY for the sake of an easier life, which was a far more interesting layer to the character than the simple design and personality implied, so that was good. He goes down swinging against Mujo then returns in time to save the girls while Mujo is being defeated but it’s highly implied through dialogue that this was a last gasp effort before his death… then he shows up at the last episode watching the Kazuma v Ryuho fight and talking to some kids with dialogue and body language implying he was out of energy and near death… STILL. Then he vanishes off-camera, for the THIRD TIME implying he died, though presumably for real this time. It’s like the creators had to kill him off but didn’t really want to so kept bringing him back “near death” and leaving it open ended. Very odd.
Kazuma and Ryuho in their final forms, combining with their Alters completely.
S-CRY-ed goes out with a satisfying bang but overall I feel it isn’t worth watching the other episodes leading up to this, especially as some of the character designs and personalities are so basic and one note and never really go anywhere, even at the end. Still, if you have made it this far then at least you’ll be treated to a fun finale.