Masayuki wastes no time in trying to enter the Kameiwa Respiratory Hospital, but he notices that the entrance is firmly closed in place. Seeing no other option, Makoto calmly walks up to the closest window and elbows the remaining glass into pieces. Tarou follows the other two into the hospital, but not before hearing what sounded like the mountains bellowing with rage.
Masayuki turns his flashlight on, and leads the others. As expected, he sets off to look for the haunted underground room. Makoto mutters that his house has a similar structure – a 座敷牢 (zashikirou), or a traditional room designed to confine criminals and lunatics. The conversation becomes more serious at this point, as Masayuki talks about the male student he alleged “killed” back in Tokyo. As I theorized previously (and many other viewers as well), Masayuki admits that he didn’t directly kill the student per se; rather, Masayuki bullied the student to the point where he committed suicide. We also get a few more details about the actual event.
(mewmew’s note: I find it fascinating that Masayuki feels more anger than guilt at his classmate’s suicide; for Masayuki, it means that he will have to continue living with the knowledge that his actions resulted in someone’s death – this stirs up more of a furious reaction inside Masayuki rather than remorse.)
Back in town, Miyako leaves the local convenience store and stares at a group of loud and foul-mouthed teenagers. She shows no sign of intimidation and walks away. She, like Tarou, also hears the mountains bellowing.
The trio continues to wander around the hospital as they discuss about themselves. Makoto offers to be the one to enter the cursed underground room if they find it – he has a generally morbid disposition on life. His general train of thought is so negative, in fact, that he personally states that he won’t be surprised if he murders another human being. He sees himself as mentally unstable, which he attributes not only to seeing his father dead at the age of 3 or 4, but also to an accident during his infancy which resulted in a major surgery (his mother accidentally dropped him to the ground when he was a baby). This gloomy conversation does not end, as Makoto ponders as to why (most) people cannot bring themselves to kill another person – Tarou nervously answers that this is due to common sense…
Tarou sees a pale, shimmery figure running beside him. He looks back and initially sees nothing; a second later, a white, feminine silhouette chases Tarou. Terrified, Tarou dashes forward and catches up with Makoto and Masayuki. The glowing figure has disappeared.
After walking around some more, the trio (with the exception of Tarou) is disappointed to see the stairs leading to the basement are blocked out. Masayuki instead now asks for Tarou to lead them to the third floor, and show them the room in which he was kept captive eleven years ago. The first room they checked on the third floor is not the right one; the second room they enter isn’t correct either – it is heavily worn down, and the room has a huge hole in the center.
Third time’s the charm, and the male leads enter. It appears normal enough for a desolate hospital room. Or so it seemed, until Tarou is transfixed at one of the beds and sees his sister, Mizuka. He starts to breath heavily and uncontrollably – almost as if he is hyperventilating. Eventually all three of the boys are breathing erratically, and all of them are gazing at the bed with Mizuka lying down. A few miles away, Miyako is also similarly affected, although she isn’t physically present inside the Kameiwa Hospital. Her hair is flying around wildly, and she utters about them entering the 幽世 (kakuriyo) before collapsing into the floor into the arms of Takahito, her father. Each of the three male protagonists are now exposed to their most unpleasant experiences – Makoto stands right before his dead father, while Masayuki is a few feet away from the student he tortured up to his untimely death.
Realizing that the situation they are in has to be unnatural, the three makes a run for it. They pause here and there due to the maze-like nature of the hospital, but they make it outside. They aren’t in their physical selves, however, and are in an OBE (or astral projection, whichever term you prefer).
The kewpie-doll souls of the trio stares in fear and awe at the residents of the “other world” before drifting back into the hospital room; they dive back into their physical bodies. They physically leave the hospital now – it is already evening. Tarou suggests going in the direction of the facilities of 大日本バイオインダストリー(Dainihon Bioindustries) although Masayuki understandably doesn’t want to do this, since his dad works there. Makoto observes that the path towards the facilities is too steep, and decides that they will have to go through the woods back into the Kameiwa Shrine.
Miyako and Takahito are waiting for them, and Takahito forces them into the interior of the shrine. Takahito tells the three to never visit the area again (he calls them foolish), and proceeds to cut their hair. Supposedly this has a protective effect, although even Takahito himself has doubts as to whether this ritual will help in purifying the three teens. Tarou and Makoto deal with the procedure without any complaints – Makoto does remind Takahito that their belief systems are different – but Masayuki is completely apprehensive at having his hair snipped. He resists, but ultimately loses some of his hair to Takahito’s scissors as a wide-eyed Miyako looks on. (I actually empathize a bit with Masayuki here, because I detest having my hair cut short…)
The first three episodes were mainly spent on background information, so this was an episode that changed the general pacing of the show we had until now. The animation staff’s choice to use sounds in place of traditional BGM’s is especially potent this episode, as the sounds of breathing, footsteps, and heartbeat take center stage – it all helps to make the atmosphere tense and desperate.
In terms of character development, this episode cements Makoto as a total pessimist. He views himself as defective, which is not exactly the best way a person – no less a teenager – describes himself. I find it ironic that Tarou, who is undoubtedly the weakest and physically unstable of the three, is actually the most solid emotionally in the group. As for Masayuki…well, he is intriguing. Although cowardly, he harbors hatred and fear for the student who *he* tortured into suicide rather than guilt. He also whole-heartedly accepts Makoto’s statement of Masayuki “escaping” into Suitenchou due to the suicide incident instead of trying to deny it. I find this to be surprisingly honest in spite of Masayuki’s personality. Miyako, meanwhile, remains a mystery that is yet to be unlocked. She isn’t emotionless, but she is so aloof that emotions such as anger or fear seem to never manifest on her face…
I’m not sure what the creators were thinking, but I find the astral forms of the male leads unique, if not odd. There really are no other words to describe it other than a “transparent blue kewpie doll.” I am wondering as to why organs like the brain and heart are still present in these non-physical forms of the characters, though. It slightly reminds me of a homunculus, which may have something to do with the title of a future episode as you can see here.
Next time: Masayuki tries to hide his new ‘do by wearing some sort of headband, while Makoto can no longer slick his hair back. We also get to meet Makoto’s creepy grandmother again, who was probably one of the many sources of inspiration that prompted Kagami from LS to dress up like this for the culture festival a while back. 😉