The following contains spoilers for Season 1 of The Eminence in Shadow, which is currently available on HIDIVE.
In The Eminence in Shadow, Cid Kageno and Princess Alexia Midgar's dynamic and unlikely alliance produced a number of thrilling and dramatic events, including an unfortunate run-in with the Diablos Cult. However, a swordsmanship technique that screams "ordinary" is what unites the two starkly different characters.
While Cid is proud of his basic fighting style, Alexia is skeptical of its utility. Many questions arise as a result of Alexia's dissatisfaction with her swordsmanship, as well as Alexia's sudden change of heart in Episode 5, "I am..."
The Self-Loathing Princess
In episode three, "Fencing Ordinaire," viewers are introduced to Princess Alexia, the conceited and pessimistic second princess of Midgar, who serves as the school's well-liked ice queen. After losing a bet with his friends, Cid is dared to confess to Alexia, expecting her to reject him. Instead, the two end up working together and acting as if they are in a relationship, which goes against Cid's usual attention-avoidance principles.
Despite their mutually beneficial agreement, the couple respected one another's swordsmanship style, which consisted of a collection of simple maneuvers that had been honed to an extreme degree of plainness. However, their divergent perspectives on the style itself cause them to disagree, which sets off a chain of unfortunate events.
Cid tells Princess Alexia that he likes her sword style on their way back to Midgar Academy after a day of pretending to be a couple, and she bitterly responds with a story about how her older sister, Princess Iris Midgar, once said the same thing. Alexia explains that she had always wished to match her sister's swordsmanship, which was regarded as one of the best in Midgar, but she could never catch up to her, no matter how hard she tried in Midgar.
Her sister told her that she liked her plain sword, but Alexia's superiority complex made her feel pathetic and angry at both herself and her sister. Her swordsmanship, which she had worked so hard to develop, was considered so ordinary that others began calling her by the nickname "Fencer Ordinaire" behind her back. Since then, there has been tension in the sisters' relationship as a result of Alexia's avoidance of Iris and the growth of her self-hatred over each sparring session.
Reigniting Her Passion
During the kidnapping incident in Episode 5, "I am," Princess Alexia escapes from her confines with the aid of the enigmatic white-haired monster in the cell next to her. However, Zenon, her fiancé candidate and a member of the Diablos Cult who wants to join the Knights of the Rounds, confronts her and engages her in a one-sided battle. Alexia is knocked to the ground as Zenon plays on her insecurities and compares her to her sister, Iris while making fun of her weaker strength and swordsmanship.
Alexia is about to give up when Cid, who is pretending to be Shadow, the head of the Shadow Garden, steps in and challenges him to a duel to see who is the stronger. Princess Alexia discovers that Shadow's swordsmanship had an ordinary style of perfectly honed fundamental movements at its core, while also having attained the realm of transcendence, as she watches Shadow easily defeat Zenon in their confrontation despite Zenon having been physically enhanced by a drug created by the Diablos Cult.
Alexia is reminded of the ideal swordplay she wished to achieve when she was younger as a result of this. As Princess Alexia watched Shadow's movements, the accumulation of basic skills that she had trained in and loved flashed through her mind, reigniting Alexia's passion and rebuilding the faith in her sword that she had lost in her self-pity.
Princess Alexia, who had lost faith in her ordinary sword style, is unwittingly saved by Shadow from both Zenon and her own self-loathing. Alexia was able to reconcile with her sister Iris and find peace within herself after rediscovering her love for fencing, but Alexia was also left with many questions about the identity of Shadow and the goal of Shadow Garden.