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"What you saw at the castle on that windy night...and what you saw at the bridge last night...how I smiled...never utter a word to anyone. If you dare speak of it, I will find you wherever you are hiding, and I will kill you. I will rip you apart. I will shatter your bones. I will eat your flesh. I will drink your blood dry. And I will devour you."
— Opening lines
Kigeki (meaning Comedy) is an anime short film by Studio 4°C, released in 2002 as one of five other Sweat Punch shorts, that were collected in the anthology Deep Imagination.Set during the Irish War of Independence, Kigeki tells the story of a little girl who goes to seek out the Devil's Castle, home of a mysterious Black Swordsman, with whom she needs to strike a deal in order to save her family from the advancing English army. The Black Swordsman is a dark, reclusive individual, and a highly skilled warrior, who will only accept advance payments in the form of books. However, not just any old book will do...Kigeki is a beautiful, Gothic fairytale steeped in symbolism and rich in visuals, animation, atmosphere, and music. Clocking in at only 10 minutes, it manages to tell the engrossing story of a young girl's salvation more effectively than most full-length anime series. It is accompanied by two pieces by composer Franz Schubert, the "Ave Maria" and "Erlkönig".
All Myths Are True: The Young Girl doesn't doubt the Swordsman's existence for a second. But then she's a child.
Armor Is Useless: When you're up against a being who can move at the speed of light, at least.
Badass Bookworm: Despite appearing as a refined and scholarly gentlemen who has chosen to live a quiet life dedicated to reading books, the Black Swordsman manages to single-handedly slay 200 soldiers in one night.
Badass Cape: The Black Swordsman, during his battle against the English.
Barefoot Poverty: At the beginning the young peasant girl is barefoot, though it could be that she was in such a hurry that she forgot to put shoes on. Later, it appears that the Swordsman has provided her with some.
Cue the Sun: Following the penultimate battle the sun rises, bringing hope after the gloomy weather in previous scenes.
Evil Laugh: It's supposed to be a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming as the last sound you hear is the euphoric laughter of The Black Swordsman, having finally found the perfect book, but damn if it doesn't sound more evil than joyous.
Field of Blades: Our first shot of the Swordsman shows him standing in one of these...though it's implied that they are all the weapons of people he has killed himself.
Flash Step: The Black Swordsman can move quicker than the eye can see, so quick, in fact, that he appears as nothing more than a flash of light.
Flower Motifs: During the opening narration, we see a cluster of blood-spattered white roses, which turn completely red as the shot pans upward. They seem to foreshadow the little girl's loss of innocence.
I'll Kill You!: The chilling words that the Swordsman utters in the opening are later revealed to be what he whispers in the young girl's ear after the battle at the bridge.
Intelligence Equals Isolation: Interesting subversion. Before the story takes place, books symbolized knowledge and status, and to keep the people in check all comedies were burned. The Black Swordsman isolates himself from society and lives as a recluse to preserve his pursuit of knowledge and joy through his own personal collection of books.
Our Vampires Are Different: Assuming he is a vampire; it's not explicitly clear. Amongst other things, the Black Swordsman doesn't seem to suffer any negative effects from the sunlight, nor does he have noticeable fangs.
Peek-a-Bangs: The Swordsman, adding to his mysterious, Gothic appearance.
Pet the Dog: His treatment of the Young Girl shows that the Swordsman can be nice when he wants to.
The Promise: The Swordsman makes the little girl swear never to tell anyone about what happened, on pain of death. She has apparently stayed true to her word.
The Quiet One/The Stoic: The Black Swordsman. He only has two lines in the entire film, and even fewer facial expressions.
Sitting on the Roof: The Black Swordsman is briefly seen sitting on the castle roof, after which he uses a tree bathed in the moonlight for an elevated reading position.
Sliding Scale of Vampire Friendliness: Though certainly not friendly as far as the English army are concerned, the Black Swordsman is shown to be very patient, hospitable and even kind toward the Young Girl when he finds her unconscious in the wilderness and gives her a place to sleep, then lets her tag around after him for a few days. He does make it clear, however, that if she breathes a word about him to anyone he will kill her in the most horrifying way imaginable.
Spot of Tea: As if wearing a suit, living in a castle, and reading avidly didn't make him sophisticated enough, the Swordsman also serves his guests tea.
Wise Beyond Their Years: The Young Girl (5-years-old) is able to determine the perfect book the Black Swordsman is seeking just through piecing together his personality from the rumors she's heard. She also manages to take the initiative and save her village and family from imminent destruction through a deal with the Swordsman.