Image Source: エイベックス公式アニメ通販 アニミュゥモ on Twitter

She’s no chicken when it comes to killing. But when it comes to love, she couldn’t be more frightened.

Ryoka Niwa—warrior name Niwatori—is a participant in the Juni Taisen, fighting to grant her one wish. She at first appears extremely innocent—so innocent, it’s hard to imagine why she would be a part of the conflict in the first place. She meekly follows after the Wolf, her supposed enemy, with the latter completely intending to manipulate her for his own gain. He goes so far as to inject her with the “One Man Army” poison to buff her up and use her as his weapon.

And that’s when she smashes his head in between her fingers.

Yes, Niwatori uses her bright attitude to lull her enemies into a false sense of comfort, then betrays them. In this case, she made Wolf believe that she was an idiot in order to get him to give her a shot of the One Man Army poison so she could be unstoppable. And she completed her goal with blood on her hands and a smile on her face.

Image Source: テレビアニメ「十二大戦」公式‏ on Twitter

But when faced with the Monkey, a pacifist who says she just wants everyone to get out of the Juni Taisen alive, Niwatori finds herself acting strangely. While talking to her open opponent, she realizes that even if she tries to kill Monkey, a very skilled warrior, she doesn’t even react to protect herself. Surely she noticed Niwatori’s trident at the back of her head. But even so, she didn’t react.

As a child, Ryoka was horribly, horribly abused, beaten, neglected, and even tied up. This abuse lead her to actually killing her parents who had administered this torture. So traumatized and mentally strained, she locked away her memories Afterwards, she was taken into the Niwa family, where she was manipulated for her ability to control birds.

Image Source: エイベックス公式アニメ通販 アニミュゥモ on Twitter

Her new family was one of assassins, and as such, Ryoka became one herself. In order to live in this world of deception, she molded her personality to fit any situation that she had to. She was never allowed to have a life of her own, numbing herself to all of the carnage she was causing. There was not a single person she could trust. As such, she never let down her guard.

But one of her opponents in the Juni Taisen did not even react when threatened, even though she had to have noticed the danger to her life. This act of not stupidity, but trust and acceptance. This is something Ryoka has never experienced. The warrior of the bird has experienced abuse, betrayal, manipulation, bloodshed, and more, but there was one thing she had never felt: love.

Though she denied it, her instantaneous connection with Monkey pushes her to feel companionship with someone, and even just a little, closeness. Being the first time she’s ever experienced these kinds of feelings, for the first time in her life, she attempts to protect Monkey in exchange for her own life, though even she is confused as to why she decided to do so. Ryoka ended up dying in order to protect the first person who ever treated her like an individual.

Juni Taisen’s Boar Is More Sympathetic Than She Seems

When she takes her last breath, she allows the birds in the area to consume her flesh. It’s unknown as to whether Ryoka ever realized that she was indeed affected by the unsullied kindness from another, but whether she knew it or not, it affected her so much that it brought her unfortunate life to an end, just when it seemed as if it might begin to change.

JUNI TAISEN: ZODIAC WAR began airing on October 3. It is viewable with English subtitles on Crunchyroll.

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