The coolest thing about the anime adaptation of Juni Taisen is how it shows the quirks of these people. In the novel, Snake’s love for reptiles is outright stated– he loves reptiles, anonymously runs a popular blog about them, and has the habit of grilling and eating them when they pass away. It’s a cool bit of background knowledge tossed out there in a few sentences in the character page that starts his particular chapter, but like everyone else’s traits, it’s just kinda tossed out there. It’s fun, but extraneous if you’re the sort that needs this stuff integrated into the text.
The anime takes that fact and turns it into a character beat during the flashback showing how Snake and Dragon operated before the Taisen. They’re petty criminals, robbing from whomever seems opportune at the time, and selling off the haul for their personal gain. During one of their heists, Snake sees some sort of reptile among the cargo their marks are selling. He doesn’t hesitate to take the animal for his own, ignoring everything else. He even gives these criminals a chance to just let him go and take the lizard– not that I’d trust him to keep that promise, but he actually pauses and makes the remark rather than outright killing them where they stand without hesitation. Yeah, his brother comes in, whisks him away, and Snake ends up burning down the place in the end, but it’s a neat little character beat that shows just how much he likes his “fellow” reptiles.
And outside of Sheep’s backstory, it may be the most humane character tick we’ve seen out of this people thus far. We didn’t get to see much of Dog outside of his role as a killer (It woulda been cool to see them go into his background as a daycare teacher, even if it’s a front for him to kidnap children for organizations looking for “gifted” kids.). Chicken has an extremely troubled past, and she was drafted into a life of mercenary work before she could just be a “normal” person. Same goes for Boar, who may have been relatively well-adjusted before we met her, but we don’t really see that side of her outside of a couple of lines in her chapter that don’t get covered outside of the anime’s closing credits (Also note that Chicken’s “everyday” pic in said credits is of her cleaning her guns, so she doesn’t really have an outside life.). Monkey is a bit like Superman– the alter ego is the woman pretending to be a girlfriend to a normal dude, when the real her is the divine sage coming down from the mountain to save humanity. Interesting, but not exactly relatable. Horse willfully throws away his humanity to become something “better,” only to have his human anxieties be his downfall. Even the novel tells us nothing of his personal life outside of training to be a killer. That bit with the ships in a bottle during the credits is totally new.
We got to see how Sheep raised a family and loves his grandkid, and seeing them play video games together is about as “normal” as we’ve seen someone depicted thus far. Other than him, all of these characters have been… superhuman? They’re fully realized characters and fascinating in their own regard, but they’re shown to exist solely within this world of killers and intrigue. Sheep was the first character to be shown to really exist outside of that world, and now we’re seeing Snake and Dragon in that context. It’s something as simple as “I love reptiles,” but it says a lot about who Snake is and how he lived before getting decapitated by Rabbit.
And by the way, that scene was awesome with Rabbit in a full tux– pretending to hide his cleavers in his bushy tail and pretending to be humane. He’s so alien.
Also, my absolute favorite moment from the novel happened in this episode: Tiger taking away Corpse Snake’s flamethrower and chugging the fluid like it’s booze. I’d go into that moment more, but Tiger’s episode/chapter is still a little ways off. But yeah, she’s my favorite character, and that bit sealed the deal.