Joran: [SPOILER]’s Death Leaves Sawa Questioning Her Motivations

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Episode 4 of Joran: The Princess of Snow and Blood, "Confidential File 620: Divine Right," now streaming on Crunchyroll.

Sawa’s battle against Janome proved to be the biggest challenge of her journey thus far in Joran: Princess of Snow and Blood. It resulted in the madman’s death and a big win for Nue overall, but with the object of her vengeance gone -- and reeling from the revelation of her brother’s survival and subsequent death -- Sawa is left uncertain of her future as an executioner in Episode 5. To make matters worse, Nue’s tight grip might prove to be problematic as Sawa begins to fully understand just how trapped she is within the shadow group’s hierarchy.

Continue scrolling to keep reading Click the button below to start this article in quick view.
Start now

Sawa’s battle with Janome leaves her victorious, but the compromised structure of the terrorist’s underground lair threatens to kill her, Asahi and Takeru. Though she’s determined to die alongside her brother, Takeru implores Sawa to continue living and pushes her forwards before getting crushed by debris. Sawa successfully brings Asahi outside of the burning building, but her brother’s death leaves her despondent. With her revenge having come full circle, Sawa starts thinking over her role as an executioner.

Meanwhile, Elena discovers that she’s pregnant, though the identity of the baby’s father is unknown to her. Apathetic as to who the child’s father is, Elena’s ghostwriter offers to take on the role, and the two set on to start new lives. Determined to keep the child, Elena confronts Jin and decides to leave Nue behind. Jin allows her to leave on the condition that she aid Sawa in putting down a revolutionary cell, and the two set out on one last job together.

The two ambush the revolutionaries and their leader, but Elena is forced to take on the bulk of the group when Sawa fails to engage most of them in combat. Having lost her brother and reason for joining Nue, Sawa loses her edge and becomes a liability on the battlefield. Elena seems more than capable of handling the revolutionaries on her own but is distracted, herself, by a potential attack on her abdomen. A nearby enemy sees the opening and goes in for the kill, but Sawa comes to her senses quick enough to save her.

After the battle, Elena admits to Sawa that she’s pregnant and reveals that she’s received a pardon and new alias by Yoshinobu. With her life as an executioner behind her, Elena has a final heart-to-heart with Sawa, telling her to trust no one but herself going forward. The two express their distaste for the other before going their separate ways.

Walking home, Sawa only makes it back to the bookstore in the early hours of the morning. There, she discovers what seems to be the burned-up remains of Elena and her ghostwriter. Realizing that leaving Nue would mean her death, Sawa fears for Asahi’s safety should she decide to leave the organization. But just as Sawa begins to feel trapped within the shadow group’s clutches, Asahi appears and offers her a way out in the form of some poison pills she’d received from Makoto. Sawa decides to take the pills, though the exact effect they have is left ambiguous in the episode.

Joran has a habit of faking its audience out when it comes to major developments, so Elena’s “death” could very well prove to be yet another bit of trickery. Janome might have been Sawa’s biggest adversary, but Nue’s duplicitous nature is becoming more apparent each week. A conflict between her and the organization seems likely, though her own apparent death might buy her some time.