In a library, Syaoran found a book that wrote out the past of someone he knew very well. That someone is none other than Kurogane, and his story starts in the province of Suwa in the Kingdom of Japan. His father was the lord and fought the monsters that came. His mother was the miko who kept a protective barrier around the region. Kurogane himself was a normal kid who loved his parents. On one occasion he got into trouble with his father for coming home late, but his mother later explained that his father was angry out of concern for him. Another time, his father showed him the Hama Ryuu-ou Jin technique. Kurogane had wanted to become strong, so his father asked him why he wanted that. At that time, Kurogane had replied that he wanted to protect everyone in Suwa, including his parents. With much training, he was able to perform the technique a few years later and used it in battle against a monster. However, it wasn’t perfect and did not kill the monster so he couldn’t call it the Ryuu-ou Jin. During this, his father had become busier and busier with all the monsters and his mother became sicker and weaker. Kurogane was particularly concerned for his mother because she wanted to strengthen the protective barrier despite her own failing health. When he had told her that he wanted her to become healthy again, and she had noted how much he was like his father. On that particular night, Kurogane held his sword up to the moonlight and wished that he could become stronger.
However, the attacks on the region were getting worse. One night, Kurogane found his father back, but his father’s sword broken. His father was going out to fight again, but came back to get the family heirloom: a sword called Ginryuu. Before his father could go, Kurogane’s mother came in and scolded his father for trying to leave without calling her. At his father’s request, his mother had performed a miko‘s ritual prayer on the sword, enchanting it with light. Kurogane had wanted to go with his father because he felt he had become stronger. His father thought so too, but he wanted Kurogane to use that strength to protect what he loves. Soon after his father left, Kurogane heard a cry from within the building and ran in to see his mother lying on the ground. But since she insisted on fulfilling her miko duties of praying for victory and protecting the barrier, he had no choice but to stand guard outside the shrine. Inside, his mother was praying when a void opened up in front of her and a sword came out of it. That sword impaled her and the noise of her collapsing alerted Kurogane. He tried to attack the arm holding the now bloody sword, but it retracted back and closed the void before he could reach it. His mother’s dying words told him to protect Suwa.
Kurogane could not mourn his mother for too long because the monsters soon came crashing through the walls. In the mouth of one of the monsters was the Ginryuu, with the severed and petrified arm of his father still holding on. When the monster dropped the sword from its mouth, the arm shattered into pieces as it hit the ground. Remembering how his father told him to use his strength to protect what he loved, Kurogane grabbed the Ginryuu and charged forward. The rest is all blacked out. It was sometime later that Empress Amaterasu of Japan came with a force of troops, only to find everything completely decimated. She was here because her younger sister Tsukuyomi had a dream about Suwa’s miko dying. A wild-eyed Kurogane instinctively attacked her, but Souma (who was with the force) protected her. Amaterasu saw that Kurogane had lost his self and was prepared to draw her sword on him. However, Tsukuyomi stopped her sister and asked that her sister leaves this up to her. When Tsukuyomi approached Kurogane, who still had his dead mother in his arms, he tried to attack her. She repelled him with her magic and tied him to a rock with some magical rings. Tsukuyomi finally calmed him down by closing his dead mother’s eyes and by asking him to allow his mother to sleep. Tears started forming in Kurogane’s eyes as he realized that his mother and father were both gone. Kneeling on that battlefield, Kurogane could only cry uncontrollably in front of Tsukuyomi.
In a library somewhere, tears start flowing from Syaoran’s eyes too as he silently holds a glowing book. The others notice this and Fye tries to take to book from his hands. It is only when Kurogane touches the book that it stops glowing and Syaoran lets go. He falls backwards, but he is fortunately caught. Still in tears, Syaoran apologizes to Kurogane.
Ok, so there were several notable changes from the manga, a lot of it having to do with the amount of stuff they wanted to cover. For one, we don’t see Syaoran actually watching as the events unfold. He gives the brief introduction at the beginning, but it’s not until the very end of the episode that you start to understand what was going on. It might be because, like I said, they were trying to get through a lot of material and didn’t have time to include Syaoran watching it too. Secondly, I think this is one of the few times where I’d say they could have used a little more blood to make things a little more dramatic. I realize this is airing on NHK, but still, a trickle of blood from Kurogane’s mother’s mouth would have done a lot to emphasize the violent manner in which she was killed and the rawness of the situation. There were other small violence-related changes, like the monster turning Kurogane’s fathers arm to stone and then dropping it, as opposed to eating the arm in the manga. Also, Princess Tomoyo using rings on Kurogane instead of pinning him to the rock by piercing his left hand. The final thing is that the ending felt really rushed. Well, rushed isn’t really the word. They basically cut out all of Kurogane waking up in the Shirasagi Castle afterwards and Tomoyo introducing herself. For those of you who haven’t read the manga, Kurogane in that scene wanted the Ginryuu to be buried with his mother in the absence of his father’s body. Tsukuyomi had told him that she’d had a replica of Ginryuu made for him to use so that he could fulfill the final agreement with his father. She had then told him that her real name was Tomoyo and he had said his was Kurogane.
Having said all of that, I still really enjoyed this rather powerful episode, especially when compared to the filler stuff from the past two weeks. I don’t like that they had to condense the story to fit in one episode, but I think they did a pretty good job at it. The animation quality of the episode was quite high – just look at that shot of Kurogane’s father. Honestly speaking, if I hadn’t read the manga, I probably wouldn’t have had all those complaints because the anime did a well in telling the overall story.
Next week, the focus is on the magical country that Syaoran and company are in and the library there.