Nanatsu no Taizai Chapter 290/291: The Insolent Maggots and An Eye for an Eye, A Tooth for a Tooth; by eefrit
290 starts where 289 left off, Ludociel had just landed the decisive blow on Zeldris, the latter having been rendered defenseless due to the attacks of Escanor's The One. Ludociel attempts a double tap on Zeldris, but the Prince is saved by his mentor, Cusack.
A large portion of 290 shines a spotlight on the two Masters, adding more mystique to the characters and showing why they are a force to be reckoned with in the series. With both Escanor and Zeldris temporarily out of commission, the remaining fighters (who are actually capable of doing something substantial) pair up against the appropriate opponents. Cusack confronts Ludociel, who had just taken down his ward, and Chandler confronts Merlin. While he takes a sideline this chapter, there is some interesting bits of dialogue between Zeldris and Cusack. While the former acknowledges the strength of the latter as being far beyond his own, Cusack hints that Zeldris will be the one to surpass him, even going as far as to tell him to "not forget". The implications of this are interesting, but it's still rather vague as to where it could go.
Cusack versus Ludociel starts as a high speed battle, one that is choreographed and drafted pretty well. The three pages, consisting of the build up, the clash, and the results is a good one. It's probably my favorite from this series is a while, which is saying a lot as the last one I liked was way back in the first arc. Despite starting off evenly matched, Cusack soon makes it clear that he is a bit too much for the Archangel, who, despite managing to land the first blow, did no damage. He even left himself open for a devastating counter attack which dazed him pretty good.
Chandler versus Merlin initially looks like it's going to end the same way. The two mages cast the same spell, Exterminate Ray, through which it's readily apparent that the Master's version is exceedingly more powerful. However, with Merlin's spell being pushed back, she adds a last minute enchantment to her spell, using her magic Infinity as a base, which exponentially increase the power of her spell, allowing her to push back Chandler's instantly, seemingly blowing him up. This apparent victory is short lived however when we see that Chandler is no worse for wear. Ludociel skids back to where they were, fatigued and still injured, revealing that Cusack is unharmed as well.
Earlier in the chapter, Merlin explained that the Masters are among the oldest demons known and that they are largely enigmas, having stayed away from the front lines of the Holy War. After the clashes however, she further clarifies what else she knows about the two. Their original magic has been sealed, so they gained their reputation as the strongest demons through their sheer physical strength and power and that they are without weakness. But the end of the chapter proves that they aren't untouchable, as a surprise explosion of wind and lighting manage to cause a slight injury. Merlin, the one responsible, claims that they just need to create a weakness in them.
291 begins with the Masters doubting Merlin's claim that she'll be able to create a weakness in them, telling her not to get full of herself for leaving a bruise and a scrath. And with good reason, they seem to be rather indestructible in this form (except for the time Chandler wasn't when he fought the Fairy Gloxinia and the Giant Dolor, but we'll ignore that for now).
They'll pretty much be proven wrong as this entire chapter is dedicated to Merlin straight up owning them. To be quite honest, there isn't much else to the chapter in terms of anything else.
Merlin's use of tactics and the magic of Infinity is further expanded upon basically, allowing those traits of the character to shine unimpeded. Her plan began as soon as the fight began in chapter 286, with the spell Double Impact. I had even mentioned during my review of that chapter that I suspected there was another reason for the spell being used and here it is. The spell's function was two fold; Determine the the Master's potential weak point, in this case a lack of resistance for Wind for Cusack and a lack of resistance for Lighting for Chandler and to decrease their resistance to said element indefinitely every time they are attacked.
While Zeldris' magic was activated and Merlin was teleporting out of it's range, she used that time to jury rig a number of spells together to prepare for this moment. Two elemental spells, wind and lighting, that are invisible, undetectable, self replicating, and capable of homing in on their targets if the make a move or even speak. This, in combination with the effects of Double Impact basically stun locked the two Masters into oblivion.
Merlin's magic, Infinity, just barely manages to stay within it's previously defined description, but even then, you can argue that it's being allowed to do more that initially stated. The original idea presented was that the magic just allowed one keep a spell cast indefinitely, without wasting magic to sustain it. Some of the things Merlin has done recently kinda make it hard to believe that that's still the case.
Tactic wise, this is what I wanted from the character after getting an idea of how she supposedly operates. She reminds me of Mayuri from Bleach, in that she needs an appropriate amount of prep time to completely own the fight from the start using some pretty bullcrap or broken methods. It's a fun character to read, although admittedly, she should have had more moments like this before we reached this point as jumping straight to this is a bit of a hard pill to swallow. I buy it because it's what I wanted, but I can see the issue with her winning like this.
Both chapters were alright for me, but they were most definitely enjoyable for fans of Merlin.To discuss the manga please visit our Nanatsu no Taizai section!