Content Warning: The Heike Story Episode 9 contains a scene depicting a suicide.
The Heike Story is an adventure/drama anime inspired by a 12th-century epic story produced by Science SARU. With their enemies dogging their every step, The Heike Clan continues to struggle for survival. Meanwhile, Biwa’s new friends are able to point her in the direction of her lost mother in The Heike Story Episode 9.
Despite the fact that The Heike Story has focused so much of its narrative on the power struggles of feudal Japan, it has managed to remain an extremely intimate story. With the narrative pivoting around characters like Biwa, Tokuko, and the late Shigemori, the tale remained a personal matter. With the stage growing ever darker for the Heike, that focus on the individuals of the story, as opposed to the grand scale of the conflict begins to truly pay off. As the slow burn story approaches the final leg of its journey, The Heike Story Episode 9 brings some of the series most impactful moments yet.
On the Heike Clan’s side of the story, we see battles and retreats as the war continues to drag them down. As hope seems to become a distant memory, some in the clan struggle to go on. This culminates in a heartbreaking scene where one of the long-standing cast decides to take their own life. The moment is delivered with a quiet reserve as those around the individual realize too late what is about to transpire. The aftershock of the moment cuts deeply, as those who were there struggle to process what has occurred.
Meanwhile, The Heike Story Episode 9 sees Biwa’s fortunes improve for a moment. Having been saved from abusive guards in the capital last episode, Biwa’s saviors are able to point her in the direction of her mother. Having searched so long for her, Biwa’s reunion with her remaining family member is heartfelt, as well as painful. Despite something positive coming from this meeting, it clearly isn’t what either wanted from the occasion. This mix of positive and negative captures the truly complex nature of human relationships admirably.
The visual presentation in this episode is probably the strongest the series has delivered so far. The powerful emotions of the episode’s key moments are captured with loving care and respect. Beyond the pain of the Heike Clan’s loss and Biwa’s emotional reunion, The Heike Story Episode 9 delivers the most dramatic moment of combat the series has yet produced as well. Its capturing of a duel at the end of the episode manages to bring the moment’s drama and tension to life while keeping the battle itself grounded. As the duel plays out to the series trademark narrative music, the viewer cannot help but be drawn into the moment.
So, when all is said and done, The Heike Story Episode 9 delivers the series best outing to date. The story feels like it is building to its inevitable finale with the starting of a setup that could deliver on the strong character-driven emotion of the story.
The Heike Story Episode 9 is streaming on Funimation.