Hello Deltora fans, one and all and welcome to episode twelve of my Deltora Quest comparison.
The King of the Rats covers chapters fifteen, sixteen, and seventeen of City of the Rats, and is the final episode in the City of the Rats arc.
CharactersReeah is our new character for the episode. The guardian of the Opal is mostly true to his book self: massive snake? Check. Crown containing the Opal on his head? Smaller than in the book, but still there. Telepathic powers and vanity higher than the city's ceiling? Also present. Strange four-segmented jaws and a spikes growing out of his head? Not something found in snakes, but probably done to make him appear more fantastical. Grows more heads when stabbed—wait what? Since when was Reeah a hydra?
- Jasmine sharing her concerns about putting a neglectful ruler on the throne once the Shadow Lord is delt with.
- The companions entering the City of the Rats wearing the outfits from Noradz, and using the pipe to blow bubbles of light.
- Reeah speaking to Lief and drawing him into the great hall.
- Reeah nearly getting Lief to throw away the belt with his telepathy, only for the Topaz to save Lief at the last minute.
- Reeah's caution at attacking at first due to the Ruby's power to ward off snakes and counteract their venom.
- Lief distracting Reeah by asking him about his past and telling him of the fates of the people of Noradz.
- Reeah eventually getting bored and attacking.
- The resulting fight destroying a large section of the city, and Lief needing nectar from the Lilies of Life.
- Lief recieving a vision of the future from the opal involving him standing alone in a desert.
Bonus points to the companions noticing the rats didn't chew through the main support pillar holding up the city's roof.
Continuing on from last episode, the anime decides to use Jasmine's concerns over the leadership of Deltora to justify why she is leaving the group, since she no longer believes in the cause. This is infuriating on multiple levels, but I will try to boil it down to the key points. First off, Jasmine seems to be forgetting all the good this quest has done so far, such as freeing the Lilies of Life and all who were tortured and imprisoned by Thaegan. Lief even brings up this argument in the book, saying that this quest is not for any king, but the people of Deltora who are suffering, which convinces Jasmine to apologize and stay. This point is instead reserved for the end of the episode, to make for some kind of aesop and re-establish everyone's faith.
Secondly, the argument goes on much too long due to the aime's depictions of Lief and Jasmine. Instead of understanding Jasmine's point of view (something Lief instantly did in the book), he argues with her and gives weak counters to her points, such as, "I was told this story, so it's true." Jasmine even calls him out for blindly believing what he is told, just like the old kings and queens. And finally, of course, Jasmine does not leave the group, but follows after them because, "that's the way I was going anyways," and treating us to more childish dialogue from her and Lief, including an, "Oh really? Yeah really!" exchange. Do you see why I hate anime Lief and Jasmine yet?The City of the Rats itself is a huge letdown. In the books, every step the companions took was met with a living carpet of rats, but in the anime, they don't encounter any rats until they enter a specific hallway and they just burst in from the ceiling. What could have been amazing atmosphere for claustrophobia and overwhelming odds is instead turned into a single trap so Jasmine can come in and save the boys again. Speaking of Jasmine's rescue, apparently they had two bottles of Fire Bedes in the anime. I call BS on this, since Tom only gave them one bottle as an extra gift in Tom's Curious Shop, and the companions did not buy any. So Jasmine suddenly having Fire Bedes is a retcon so that the writers could once again have her say, "you guys are hopeless without me." They try to explain it by hinting that Jasmine stole the second bottle, but Barda is the one who says that they bought two from Tom. So which is it?!
Even though I said the Noradz outfits and the light pipe were kept in the anime, their uses were trimmed down significantly. Due to there being almost no rats in the city, Lief and Barda dispose of their outfits at the nine minute marker, and Jasmine doesn't even wear hers. As for the pipe it is only used when they encounter Reeah, unlike in the book where it was another way to keep the rats away. It almost makes you wonder why the anime bothered to keep the pipe.When Reeah commands Lief to remove the belt in the anime, Lief also takes off his cloak, sword, and starts to undo his vest... make of that what you will.
The Opal seems to have new powers that it didn't possess in the book. Reeah uses it to illuminate the great hall so the companions can see him—which further makes the pipe useless—and uses it to holds the companions in place similar to Gorl. But of course, these abilities are never used by Lief once they get the gem.
Add another to the Lief is an idiot counter, folks, because Lief thinks it would be a brilliant idea to charge head first at a gigantic snake since he has the power of the ruby on his side and distract it with a speech about hoping for a better future agains the Shadow Lord. Fortunately, Lief in the book was a lot smarter when it came to distracting Reeah, asking him questions that fed his vanity to allow Jasmine and Barda to get into position.
Reeah mentiosn to Lief that he was the one who lead the rats into the city to drive out the humans. This is not at all what happeend in the books. There, Reeah was a small, helpless snake found by the servants of the Shadow Lord, who then created the rat plague as a way to both empty the city and feed Reeah until he could grow to gigantic size. And of course, these servants were the Ra-Kacharz, which helped to show us just how many plans the Shadow Lord had gong on at one time, and how much one event could shape the history of Deltora.The battle against Reeah is an interesting case. Certain events, like Barda getting knocked aside, Lief being lifted into the air by Reeah, and Jasmine cutting his throat all happeend, but not in the ways they were supposed to. Barda was knocked aside when he gave away his position to tell Lief to use the Fire Bedes, while in the anime, he has a brief struggle with Reeah before being overpowered. After Lief threw the bedes and missed, hitting the support pillar instead, Reeah lifted him into the air and gloated, before Jasmine used Lief's sword to slice his throat. In the anime, Lief is swalled by Reeah, and Jasmine cuts his throat with her knife to free him, but this doesn't kill Reeah... but then we get the scene of Lief falling that resulted in his temporary death in the book, only in the anime Barda catches him. So now Lief is killed when he knocks the crown off of Reeah's head and is thrown into a pillar. Obviously these changes were made to make for an engaging fight, but the pacing seems a little weird to me. The image of Lief falling from high up is a much better visual for a cliffhanger than him getting tossed against a rock.
Since his throat never got cut in the anime, Reeah kills himself by spazzing out when the crown is knocked off, which destroys the city aroud him. I guess this is to show how vain he is: he'd rather die than loose his crown? Either way, it's a stupid change.Barda wasn't able to take Reeah's crown in the anime, but was able to take the Opal. This results in a fake-out scene where Barda and Jasmine decide to prank Lief into thinking they failed, which leaves me with two questions. One: why are the companions so cruel to one aother in the show? Two: did Barda have a vision of the future? In the books it was only Lief who had a vision because he removed the gem from the crown, but Barda was holding the stone ever since they fled the city.
Since we don't get to see Reeah's death, we also don't get to see the poetic scene of the rat swarms coming to feast on his corpse.
Because Lief never told Reeah about Noradz in the show, and the end of this episode was used to hammer in Lief's point of freeing Deltora for the people, not the king, we missed out on Jasmine admitting that she was wrong to think generations of people raised a certain way would act against their nature. It was a nice humbling moment for Jamsine, while still keeping her free spirit when she added in that Tira showed that they can sometimes break the mold.
Final Thoughts: episode
What more is there to say about this episode that hasn't been said about the rest of this arc? It's horribly paced, the dialogue is terrible, and they took the City of the Rats—one of Deltora's most dangerous places—and turned it into an abandoned dundgeon with only one rat-swarm. Not to mention most of this episode was dedicate to Jasmine's decission to leave the group—a hollow statement since the audience knows she wasn't going to really leave. Not when her face is on every bit of promotional material.I think what is the most insulting about this episode is how trivial it makes the conflict of Jasmine's faith. You might think that her decission to leave the group shows how much her faith was shaken, but it's muddled by the fact that it's out of character for Jasmine to just abandon a struggling population like that. Instead, it comes more from the fact that book Jasmine was struggling with her own core ideas. She couldn't understand how the kings and queens of Deltora were so blind because she would never be so blind. That's why her realizing that the people of Noradz were once from the City of the Rats was so important. It showed her that, yes, generations of trickery and rules can make people forget their own instincts, and that they owed it to Deltora to never allow such weakness to plague the kingdom again. It took Jasmine's focus away from herself and more on the quest as a whole. But no, the anime tosses all of that aside so she and Lief can act like five year olds some more.
I'm sorry if that came off as a bit ranty, but I really have nothing else to say about this episode. It was standardly-bad, they changed a lot of the details and made the characters dumber, and the dialogue is juvenile, even for a series based on kids books.
Final Thouhgts: arc
The City of the Rats arc is so far the worst arc in the show. While it started off OK with Tom's Curious Shop, and then built up momentum with Noradz the Clean, it all went tumbling downhill with Escape, Crossing the River, and King of the Rats. And interestingly, it all has to do with atmosphere. The first two episodes, particularly Noradz the Clean, did fantastic jobs of setting up the atmosphere of the book. From the cult-like lifestyle of Noradz, to Tom's shop and the scar-faced man, you got a sense that things weren't going to be as cut and dry as in earlier episodes, which reflects how City of the Rats is very much the black sheep of Deltora Books, having little to no puzzles and instead focusing on stealth and mystery. Plus, these episodes even added new details to enhance that feeling, like the hand-washing scene in Noradz.
However, that atmosphere is tossed aside in the later episodes so we can make room for more snippy dialogue and telling the audience what everyone is feeling instead of showing it. Tira's character was a great example of this: she was made more brave and indipendant in the anime, despite that being against everything we've seen of Noradz's culture in both book and show. Urgency also took a back seet, as action scenes seemed to loose their teeth, and more and more time was set-aside for bickering between Lief and Jasmine.
Speaking of Lief and Jasmine, they both suffered very hard this arc. I already talked about Jasmine above, but Lief's stupidity and headstrong nature are bumped up even further. It's getting to a point where the hopeful, cocky, but still intelligent character from the books doesn't even seem to be present in the anime. Instead what we get is a foolish boy who charges head-long into danger and makes grandeous speeches based on nothing but blind faith. And when that faith is challenged, like with Tom, he turns his nose up and refuses help.So in the end, this arc is terrible. It started out faithully adapting Emily Rodda's work, and even added a few good detials. But the more it went on, the more it removed the teeth from the books, and swapped out the interesting tests of faith our two younger heroes go through for bickering.
But what did you guys think? Did you love Lief and Jasmine's characters over these five episodes? Should Reeah have goen crazy in the book? Did you think Jasmine was actually going to leave the group? Let me know below, and remember to hope for a better world where the Deltora Quest anime starts making sense.
Next time we'll take a trip down memory lane with Endon and Jarred.