Waking up hungry one night but having no food, Yuki goes out and takes a walk by the river. He senses something behind him and turns around to see a girl on a horse that’s walking on water. This is the same girl Yuki had met before, but she passes him by without saying anything. When he mentions her horse, she finally says that its name is Yukiwa, and she’s following the river because of an unpleasant sign. After mentioning the names Tezcatilipoca and Diablo, the girl says that Yuki has a faint sign coming from him, and then she rides off. Kumoshichi appears once she’s gone and asks what Yuki is going to do when he gets drawn into the world on the other side again. Yuki feels that 40 is a good age for retirement, but he feels that running around searching for one’s whereabouts is miserable.
At their underground base, the Abi and Saizou have prepared a sizzling pot to burn off Yuki’s tattoo, but he’s hesitant to do it. Ogasawara gathers the group and tells them about a misemonogoya (a performance show similar to a circus) that’s connected to a missing person and suspicious shadows. He has also prepared a document so that Yuki won’t get mistaken as a fumin again because he’s now an Ayashi. But since Yuki doesn’t care about social status or that paper, Ogasawara instead tries to give him a sword, which would imply that Yuki was important because people who aren’t at least a samurai aren’t allowed to carry swords. Yuki doesn’t take that either, and he also has no intention of using his Ayagami power again. With no other choice, Ogasawara can only suggest that they’ll erase the tattoo later.
As it turns out, Yuki is spotted by Tamahei and a chase ensues. Saizou tries to follow, but she loses sight of Yuki and wanders into a building full of lifelike dolls. Yuki evades Tamahei and finds his way to the stables where the girl from before and her horse are. He sees that she is getting ready to change, and she claims that she’s ok being with her horse Yukiwa instead of having a dressing room. Yuki thinks that she’s a foreigner and wonders if she’s being imprisoned here as part of the show because of that. Without answering, she orders him to leave and then walks off herself. Yuki joins the audience of the show, watching as the girl leads Yukiwa onstage. The horse reacts to something at the same time that the dolls Saizou is standing in front of start to emanate darkness. Still, the show goes on and the girl successfully jumps from a galloping horse onto Yukiwa. Abi and Edo Genbatsu also come to see the show, and Edo comments on how the horse is probably a Youi. Afterwards, the girl sees Yuki in the audience and glares at him.
Upon their return to base, Ogasawara tells everyone about how most foreigners aren’t allowed to travel in Japan – someone like the girl would definitely stick out. Ogasawara supports the idea of putting a foreigner like her under the jurisdiction of the magistrate’s office, but Yuki disagrees. On his way back, Yuki thinks he’s talking with Kumoshichi about the girl, but Saizou turns out to be the one standing behind him, wondering why he’s so fixated on this girl. Yuki says that for someone to hide the color of their skin, study the language, and try to live in this country, it’s better to leave them alone. Saizou thinks that Yuki can relate to the girl because he was despised as a fumin, but she says that all despised people are not necessarily correct. A bit surprised, Yuki doesn’t say anything else and just keeps walking.
Under the orders of Torii Youzou, a small army descends on the Yotsuya area where the girl was performing earlier. Another one of Torii’s men leads a separate force of lizard-like men who come after the girl right as Yuki and Saizou find her. Saizou stays behind to face their opponents while Yuki, the girl, and her horse escape to the building with the dolls. Knowing that those people are after the girl, Yuki urges her to leave the horse here and run away. When she refuses because the horse is hers, Yuki tells her that Yukiwa is probably responsible for the strange occurrences in this neighborhood. He wants to help her and claims that the hatred from pain brought about the youi in the horse. However, the girl claims that Yuki sees her as a different person, the same as how he would view the dolls: not knowing their true character and thinking of them as ominous. Yuki blurts out that he was only trying to help because he pitied her, but that only causes her to wonder if it’s because she was a foreigner. She feels that she’s not a doll without a heart.
Yukiwa the horse suddenly neighs and large tentacles appear, wrapping themselves around Yuki. Outside, Saizou is facing off against a man who introduces himself as Honjou Tatsusuke. He claims that Torii has business with the girl and her horse, but Saizou says that it’s the Bansha Aratamesho’s job to take care of the youi. Fortunately, Saizou is backed up by both Edo Genbatsu and Abi. Back inside, the tentacles holding Yuki are all coming from the dolls, but the doll parts all fall off, leaving only floating cloaks encasing darkness. Yuki manages to free himself and use the tentacles to throw the others at the one going after the girl. Having heard a cry from outside, Honjou and his youi allies come into the building, and Yuki tells them that these are the kidnappers they were originally searching for.
Honjou calls on his youi allies, but they can’t do anything because they think the horse is too powerful. In fact, Yukiwa takes their bodies and throws them into the dark voids underneath the cloaks that used to cover dolls. The giant pile morphs into a larger creature, which Abi and Edo Genbatsu immediately attempt to attack to no success. With a determined look, Yuki steps forward, but first tells the girl that he and she are different. People are different from the very beginning, meaning that everyone is a foreigner – that’s why he helped her. Having gotten that out of the way, Yuki leaps up to the youi and attempts to use his Ayagami powers, but it doesn’t work. As he swings up side of the wall with a rope, the youi starts spinning and cuts open a gash along the wall. Yuki suddenly notices the tattoo on his arm and activates it with his powers. He forms the character for “Yuki” from his name, which shows the power of an ancient king. Meant for a sinner’s neck, it forms into a giant broadax, and with that in hand, Yuki jumps for the spinning youi.
Well I liked this episode a lot more than the previous ones. The pacing was much better, and the episode was interesting to watch from beginning to end. Torii Youzou seems to be setting himself up as the antagonist, though I’m hesitant to call him evil or a bad guy yet. The addition of the girl also completes the main cast, though I’m curious what role she’s going to play if she’s not part of the Ayashi team. There are plenty of questions about her past that still need to be answered.
They’re working in a lot more historic societal aspects than I thought they would, mainly how the girl was a foreigner. For more information, you can read up on the country’s seclusion during the period and the rangaku that they mentioned several times. Incidentally, though it’s not mentioned in the episode, the girl’s name is romanized as Atoru, which I would probably match up with the western name Atle.