Tarou had a mental experience while he was knocked out cold and being rushed to the hospital. He “dives” into his brain on a microscopic level and finds himself surrounded by active neurons. Tarou doesn’t realize this, and instead thinks that he went through an OBE, or tamanuke (魂抜け) again. He comes into contact with some sort of airborne liquid, and then catches sight of a green outline of a human before regaining consciousness.
Back to the present, we see Ootori Reika, the neurologist and Hirata together in the examination room of the Kumada General Hospital. This dubious-looking duo is looking over the results of the various neuroimaging techniques that were used on Tarou. Reika changes the subject at this point, as she comments on why a university professor such as Hirata will regularly travel to such a desolate part of Japan to counsel Tarou, of all people (she sounds as if she is implying Tarou’s parents are paying quite a fortune for Hirata’s services). Hirata coolly ignores her statement, and asks if any of the neuroimaging tests (including those prior to the accident) reveal anything unusual about Tarou. He goes on to explain Tarou’s tendency to experience OBE’s, but Reika interrupts him to say that she has been working under the guidance of Dr. Miles Passenger (I think?) before returning to Japan. Hirata seems to know this Dr. Passenger person, and questions Reika if she too, has met “God.” Reika’s lips curl in an unpleasant smile as she replies in affirmation that it was a great trip.
Tarou’s dad visits his son in his private patient room and hands him a bag of items including his tape recorder. Tarou asks for his mother’s whereabouts, and his father replies that she isn’t doing well physically and is resting back at home. Ryouya, Tarou’s father, leaves the room now, leaving Tarou time to record his past experiences. His time is cut short, however, as Masayuki enters the room – he rode the bus from Suitenchou all the way to Kumada. He hands Tarou a hand-me-down portable gaming console (PSP clone?) as a gift, as two more people – Hirata and Reika – enters the room. They ask the boys if they are interested in seeing Tarou’s MRI and CT scan results, to which both Masayuki and Tarou eagerly respond with a yes. The doctors and the teens enter the examination room, as Reika opens up a 3D image of Tarou’s brain. She adds that Tarou’s injuries, especially those of the brain, were minimal (if any at all) thanks to Tarou’s reflexive decision to cover his head with his arms when he was about to slam into the stone steps of the Kameiwa Shrine. Masayuki also unintentionally learns that Reika is a colleague of his father; she works half of the time at the Kumada General Hospital, and the other at Dainihon Bioindustries.
The next six minutes or so is dedicated to what I will call a “crash course in psychology” as Hirata and Reika explains concepts and ideas such as:
This supplemental psychology lesson comes to a close, as Reika opens a file containing neurons – Tarou recognizes them as identical to the ones he had seen while he was unconscious.
Confused, Tarou and Masayuki talk about the “lecture” they had earlier, as they try to confirm that their OBE can’t possibly be explained by the Charles Bonnet Syndrome or the other concepts and theories given by Hirata and Reika. Tarou wonders why Makoto hasn’t shown up yet, but Masayuki answers that he refused to see Tarou after hearing that the hospital is located at Kumada. After a while Masayuki leaves the hospital, and in his place Kei-san this time visits Tarou.
Makoto, who remained in Suitenchou, has meanwhile entered Yazaki Motoi’s office and barges into his room. Yazaki abruptly finishes his phone call (it seemed to be about some sleazy political dealing) and confronts the sudden intruder. Makoto is unimpressed by the adult’s rude behavior and demands Yazaki for information regarding his father’s death. The mention of his name scares Yazaki, who becomes considerably more agitated – he accidentally falls to the floor, and desperately claims that he doesn’t know anything regarding the incident, and that he stopped talking to the Oogamis by the time it took place. Yazaki’s assertion is completely unconvincing, but Makoto leaves the politician to his own devices and departs from Yazaki’s office.
That night, Tarou has another “Inside-the-body experience” as he floats around the interior of his brain. He finds the green human figure again, which has subtly changed form into that of a female body. He makes an effort to talk to the figure, which surprisingly answers back, in a girlish-yet-mechanic voice. The green body tells Tarou that his sister is already dead, and floats away from him. Tarou chases it, but his surroundings turn black…
Masayuki, who is now back at home, has a regular evening playing video games with his trusty head-mounted display. He hears his father return from work, and heads downstairs. We catch a glimpse of his mother staring blankly at the TV screen, also playing video games (some variation of Tetris) as Masayuki walks up to his dad. Ootori Reika, he confirms, does indeed work with him at the laboratories of Dainihon Bioindustries. He acidly reminds Masayuki about the low standards of the school he is attending, and proceeds to drink beer. Irritated at this remark, Masayuki returns to his room with a select choice of words (“You’re only in my head, in the end”) and channels his frustrations at the game he is playing.
Makoto is still outside and has not returned to his home. He flips through a music magazine at the local K-mart and walks around the dimly-lit streets. He stops by a torn-down building for a bathroom break (?), and prepares to leave – instead he stands transfixed as he spots a shadow of some sort running into the road ahead. The shadow gets run over by a passing truck, and both the shadow and the truck fade away as if nothing had happened.
The next morning, we see Masayuki walking to school and stopping by the alleyway of one of the buildings nearby. Taking a closer look, he sees a group of three students bullying one student – the same student Masayuki pestered and bribed when he first transferred to the school at Suitenchou. Masayuki doesn’t help the bullied student, though, and with an unpleasant look on his face, he runs away from the area.
Nothing groundbreaking actually happens this episode, although I just can’t help but get swooped into the world of Ghost Hound. The pacing may feel slow to some anime viewers, but the funny thing for me, at least, is that all the information revealed and the relations between the characters flow quite well with the events of the episode – it feels natural, compared to for example, a badly-written shounen anime, where the majority of the episode is dedicated to tedious explanations about how a character’s abilities work, or why a certain character remains alive after being badly injured. 😉
The characters of Ghost Hound, as this episode reveals, are far more connected with one another than expected. Miyako’s father, Makoto’s parents, and Motoi are all old acquaintances, as this photo from last week’s episode revealed. Even Reika, who made her first appearance last week, is a coworker of Masayuki’s father, who we find out is a scientist of some kind.
I still have very little clue as to where the show is headed despite all this progression and information of the characters. I am yet to see the contents of the kakuriyo “spill” into the real world like the anime’s website suggests. We do, however, have a potential situation for all three male protagonists to “crack” and lose it – Makoto finding out the truth behind his father’s death or some event related to his grandmother; Tarou’s mother becoming insane and unable to live normally; Masayuki witnessing another suicide or some conflict concerning his textbook-dysfunctional family are all possible tragedies that may take place. I can of course be wrong, and none of that may happen too, but the worst possible scenario is always something to think about.
I’m also intrigued by Reika’s implied assumption that the Komoris are paying a fortune to have Hirata visit Tarou as a counselor. This, combined with the medical bills they are covering for both Tarou and his mother, and the fact that Tarou stayed in a private patient room forces me to think that the Komoris are financially well-off. As far as I know, private patient rooms are not covered by medical insurance in Japan, and my parents moved me from a private room to a shared room with other patients while I had tonsillectomy (having my tonsils removed) back when I was ten because of the steep medical bill it was racking up. :O
On a final note, I think this episode cements Ghost Hound’s place as an extra dose of psychology class just as Moyashimon is doing for microbiology.
Next time: Tarou safely returns to living the normal life, and Makoto confronts the only person left that knows his father well – Takahito, Miyako’s father. Miyako talks about Capgras’s syndrome and its origins – a Parisian housewife back in 1923 who claimed that the people around her are secretly being “replaced.”