With Sousuke gone, Chidori is feeling rather insecure and fairly paranoid. At school, she learns from her teacher that he sent a letter saying that he was dropping out. Of course, Chidori can’t provide any more information since he didn’t tell her beforehand either. With her fears getting the best of her, Chidori goes home to pack and then hops around the train system trying to lose any pursuers. After ducking in and out of various stores, she finds herself in an alley and is approached by a man looking to pick up a girl. Although she tries to tell him off at first, she changes her mind and uses him to get into a love hotel. After discharging a taser on him, she undresses to rid herself of any transmitters in her clothes. Donning a bathrobe, she escapes through the window and makes her way to the rooftop where she finds a solitary man watching what’s below. After sneaking up and getting him to put his hands up in the air, she learns that he is indeed Wraith. However, their chat is soon interrupted by bullets as Xia Yu Lan appears, incapacitating Wraith. Chidori tries to run, but the assassin calmly stalks her prey. After moving across a couple of rooftops, Chidori finally ambushes Xia Yu Lan by using her taser gun. The battle over, a mysterious figure flanked by two giant guards appears. Though he doesn’t immediately identify himself, Chidori can tell from his hair and complexion that he’s Tessa’s brother. Leonard notices that Xia Yu Lan has woken up already and tries to get her to give up the assassination. She replies with cold words and then throws a dagger at him, which he blocks with his cloak. One of his guards moves forward to protect him, revealing a metallic face underneath the hood. Xia Yu Lan tries to slash then kick, but the guard catches her leg and throws her up. It proceeds to grab her throat and break her neck. Leonard reveals that these are the newest model of mini-ASes, the Astral. Chidori tries to berate him for killing someone, but Leonard counters that her boyfriend Sousuke has killed even more people than he has. He then confronts her about her relationship with Sousuke, but she adamantly denies a romantic relationship. Catching her off guard, Leonard manages to kiss Chidori. She breaks away and slaps him, but the damage is done. As Leonard is walking off, Chidori asks for custody of Wraith, a request that Leonard complies with. Alone with Wraith on the roof, Chidori starts to cry, trying to rub away the kiss from her lips, and calls out for Sousuke. When the tears finally stop, she picks herself up, and then tells Wraith that for saving his/her life, she’s going to be using him from now on.
I’ve been waiting for this episode for a while, and it does not disappoint. The dark settings and the constant rain contribue so well to creating a mood of dispair, while Chidori’s paranoia makes for a fast paced first half. I’m glad that they decided to give her some inner monologue, though I admit I still understood some of her actions better from having read the novels. As usual, Kyoto Animation does a superb job with the details. In particular, I like how Xia Yu Lan saw her sister right before she died. They’ve done a really good job of making the mysterious assassin brothers from the novel into actual characters (sisters even) in the animated version. It’s just a pity that Xia Yu Lan had to die.
On that note, this episode isn’t quite as violent as the novels. Xia Yu Lan (rather, her male counterpart) shoots Wraith several times in the novels, enough to almost empty his pistol whereas here she only shoots Wraith twice. When Chidori shoots her would be assassin with the taser gun, she only fires once in the episode, but has to do so twice in the novels because he endures through the first one. And finally, after Xia Yu Lan gets her throat crushed by the Astral, it just dumps her body on the floor. In the novels, it follows that up by firing a huge gun at his chest (complete with gory details about the gaping hole). Not that I’m really complaining (I hate gory scenes), but I had thought that they would include all that since TSR does have the R-15 rating.
Leonard is as calm and collected as I thought he’d be, and the Astrals are just so powerful. I really wish they were animating “A Dancing Very Merry Christmas” so that we could really see the Astrals in action, but oh well. Maybe in the future. Next episode returns the focus to Sousuke and starts the events of Hong Kong. Four more episodes to go….
Closing Thought: As for the question of whether Wraith is really male or female, the episode still leaves it up to the audience. You can see from the screencaps that it’s still possible for the face behind the mask to be either gender (though it’d have to be a pretty bishie guy with eyes like that).