This week kicks off with the gang in the classroom cleaning some old junk that they are planning to sell at the auction. Mion shows up with her box of homemade ohagi (OH SHI-). You know, those same ohagi that Keiichi freaked out over after getting a mouthful of sewing needle.
Rena offers one to Keiichi, and he does a double take – eh? This is kinda familiar, I don’t think I should take one from Rena! “But,” Rena whimpers, “I’ve never made ohagi before!” Rika’s ears perk up at this, and eventually coaxes the whole story from Keiichi – he feels like he had a dream about a time when Rena and Mion brought him some ohagi, which turned out too have a needle inside… Keiichi keeps trying to change the subject but Rika eggs him on.
Later, as they were dusting off the furniture, Rena mentions that his dad just got a new job. Turns out he was quite a scrub, lofting around unemployed while spending all the alimony money on this other chick. Because of that, Rena says, she’s been having weird dreams. Whoop, time for Rika to stick her nose in again. In her dreams, Rena murders her – afraid that she might feel compelled to take her actions into reality, she consulted Mion about what she should do. Well, you tell your dad (…) The conclusion of this story is that Rena talks to her dad, he leaves the woman, and order is restored.
Well, it’s a good thing she talked to Mion in the first place. So in this world, we’ve already avoided the Rena-going-buckwild ending, avoided the Mion-going-buckwild ending with the doll being given to her. Turns out Shion was having dreams of slashing Mion and Satoko, but that gets resolved too. Wait, so the solution to all these problems was to just tell people not to kill?
Perhaps this time, Rika says to Hanyu, with everybody’s subliminal memories, we can get out of this mess. Not so fast, Hanyu replies – better not get your hopes up. Wait, wasn’t she supposed to be the optimistic one? Maybe she’s just the complete opposite of Rika – her doppelganger, so to say. So the question remains, Hanyu points out, is why Rika keeps getting killed.
At the very least, at least there are people in the village who want to protect Rika. To nurse Tanako, Rika and Satoko are necessary for her research – so apparently, the death of Takano is a necessary precursor to get to Rika every time. Which means, for Rika to find out how to keep Takano alive is the key to keeping herself alive.
First things first. Find Takano. She’s not at the clinic, so Rika surmises that she’s probably snooping around that shrine, so rushes over. So get this – Rika understands that if Takano and Tomitake enter the torture shed on the night of the Watanagashi, they’ll be killed by Oyashiro-sama’s curse; convincing them otherwise doesn’t work as proven in previous worlds… so why not just let them in before the festival?
They should call this arc the “obvious answers to dumb questions” arc.
Anyways, Rika lets them in on the condition that they listen to her request. Takano wets herself from the excitement as she creens about Oyashiro-sama while Hanyu looks on, getting pissed off at Takano’s ignorance. Rika makes her request – increase your security on the night of the Watanagashi to prevent yourselves from being killed. Can she believe in them?
Later, the gang is at the game shop picking out more crap for their crap sale. Ooishi is there on his off day, hanging out for no apparent reason other than his creepy affinity towards underage girls. He challenges them to a dice game – if they win, they get something special from him. Mion wins the game after same major gambler girl fanservice. At the end of the game, Asakasa inexplicably shows up. Turns out that Rika’s prior warning to him about going back to the hospital worked out, and his wife was able to give birth without a hitch.
And so, Rika’s first direct success at altering her world based on her knowledge. Feeling good about herself, she flexes her loli muscles some more and goes to kick the motorcycles of those hoodlums. They show up threatening Rika, but the shady garbage men show up and chase them away. On her way home, Rika continues to be shadowed by them.
She has the knowledge. She has the power. Can she finally break free of the destiny that chains her? Hanyu doesn’t think so… too bad she’s probably right.
Hey, that was a pretty good episode. The animation quality was finally decent for a change, wavering hope was turned to an optimistic confidence, and for the first time in a long time, there’s a chance that things might turn for the better. Not to mention that pic of Mion in her gambler garb – smokin’.
It’s as Rika says – there hasn’t been a better start than the one given to them in this world. Tragedies have been avoided on almost all fronts due to the unconscious memories of the various characters, and Rika has finally started using her head instead of her little stone heart to make decisions, and so far it’s been paying off dramatically. Asakasa is back and Ooishi doesn’t seem like a complete dick, and with the addition of Takano and Tomitake as her allies, all the players seem to be in place to stage an upheaval of the natural course of tragic events.
But yea, something will probably botch up in the end and have it all go to hell. The question is – how will Rika respond? Suppose this one ends and the next one comes around – will Rika still cling on to her hope and increased experience, or will she just sink back into another arc of despair? If I were her, I’d be keeping a checklist of stuff I need to clear before Watanagashi rolls around…