Mizuki is directing most of her time recently in practicing for her grade’s cross country competition. Shizuru explains to her grandmother that Mizuki is aiming for first place, and has confidence in winning.
Mizuki enters the classroom to have her two male classmates remind her that she skipped cleaning duty – she laughs it off and apologizes. During all this, a girl from the other class, Iida Tomoko, interrupts the conversation. She quickly mentions Mizuki’s despicable habit of laughing off problems and responsibilities, and departs from the classroom – Mizuki’s friend, Hisako questions her unfriendly attitude and demeanor.
After school, Mizuki and Hisako spend some time reading manga near the local bookstore. They both share laughs until a woman passes by Mizuki. She feels a jolt of some sort, and believes that she has yet again attracted a wandering youkai. As a result, she waits for Shizuru to return by their home’s gate; Shizuru notices Mizuki outside and reassures her that nothing has happened and she hasn’t lured a spirit. Grandfather isn’t as positive, and asks Mizuki to take her spell tag out – sure enough, it has a tear running down the side. He concludes that the spell tag may not have been enough of a protective measure; sure enough, Shizuru notices a cluster of spirits with black torsos and red mouths laughing at Mizuki. Their grandfather decides that the youkai this time around is not dangerous per se, and has the two girls deal with the spirit without his help.
With Mizuki refusing to wake up the next day, Shizuru enters the bedroom. Mizuki is already awake, but is absolutely exhausted from being unable to sleep – the group of laughing youkai preventing her from sleeping whatsoever the previous night. She continues to endure the bizarre torture during school and for the rest of the day. Back at home, Shizuru notices that the youkai cluster grew in number (she also mentions that how only Mizuki seems to be the only one hearing them).
Iida Tomoko continues with her hostile behavior and swears that she will defeat Mizuki in the cross country competition on the next day. Hisako does her best to provide company, and she expresses her concern for Mizuki’s increasingly irritable self.
On the night before the race, Mizuki and Shizuru talk about the youkai and tries to dispel it. Shizuru suggests Mizuki to try and repel the spirit by laughing, but this fails miserably. Shizuru believes at this point that the youkai attached to Mizuki is a ワラゴマ (waragoma), and muses that Mizuki must be suppressing some part of her emotions for such a spirit to be following her little sister.
The world doesn’t wait, however, and the race starts with a bang the next day at Mizuki’s elementary school. Shizuru has chosen to not attend and watch; instead, she discusses the youkai that has been torturing Mizuki for the past few days. Grandpa believes that Mizuki is not tortured by a waragoma, but something called the ウレイ (urei). He mentions that it can be repelled by forgetting about the urei’s presence and having high spirits, thus drinking alcohol (and more importantly, getting drunk) was a common way of casting them away.
Mizuki steadily makes her way to the front of the pack, but is overtaken by Tomoko. She falters as the urei continue to laugh at her back, but Mizuki finally grows tired of their presence and she muscles through Tomoko. This extra effort puts her in a form of runner’s high – she forgets about the irritable feelings she had and the urei dissolves away. Tomoko admits defeat as Mizuki places first in the race, and the two resolve their awkward relationship to some extent (not without Tomoko saying she’ll be the winner next year, though).
Mizuki returns home with winning first place, and talks about how the urei just seemed to disappear while she ran. She grabs a large bite out of the daifuku Shizuru made, and reflects on how her big sister mentions that laughter can be used to express a wide spectrum of feelings. Mizuki admits to herself though, that she laughs when she feels like it – it comes naturally when she is enjoying herself or finds something funny.
The episode itself wasn’t *that* bad, although it definitely felt lacking compared to the ones that preceded it. I can blame the unpleasant guest character Iida Tomoko for this, as well as the actual race, which was in no way the most exciting thing to take place. The OP was inserted near the end of the race, in addition, and I honestly thought it felt like a poor choice for that particular scene (a BGM with taiko drums or traditional instruments would have been far more effective, just like the scene where the woman carrying the urei passes by Mizuki in the bookstore early in the episode). Criticisms aside, I’m beginning to notice a pattern in the episodes – the girl that has the “spotlight,” or the most lines and screen time alternates. I do wonder if we’ll ever have an episode where both girls receive equal attention like in the first one.
Next time: The focus is back on Shizuru again, and her baseball-crazed classmate makes a guest appearance. Spirits that control the weather are universal in almost all myths and legends around the world, and Mokke treats us to one that manipulates rain. I was hoping it would be snow, but we are treated to rain instead…