Winter is fast approaching the town of Kounominechou (神峯町), and dense fog has begun to accompany the frosty weather. Shizuru and her friends are worried if the woman they are waiting for, Katsuragi Saho, will be able to find them.
Saho has no problems finding Shizuru and her friends, and the group proceeds to enter an old fashioned Japanese restaurant. Fumi is already on friendly terms with Saho, as the two met at the local high school’s cultural festival (Shizuru and her friends are in middle school). After some casual conversation about fortune telling, tarot cards, and incense, Saho inquires Shizuru about her grandfather – she would like to meet him. Shizuru is slightly alarmed to see oddly-colored smoke around Saho, but decides to let Saho see her grandfather.
Shizuru and Saho make their way to the town’s museum of history and folklore, where grandfather has a part-time position as the museum’s advisor. An extremely detailed discussion about the town’s religious history and the rituals practiced by the townsmen take place between Saho and grandfather now. Shizuru’s grandfather urges Saho to stop by the museum’s study sessions sometimes – she thanks him and leaves for the day.
Shizuru remains in contact with Saho, who turns out to be a well-read individual – she mentions superstitions and myths associated with Marie de Rabutin-Chantal. Shizuru learns that Saho’s drive to read and educate herself about the paranormal and supernatural first came about when Saho attended her aunt’s funeral – she mused that there must be some method to see her aunt’s spirit, or will. She expresses interest in being able to see the “other” world, which makes Shizuru rather uneasy.
Influenced by Saho, Shizuru has also taken up interest in reading difficult text about divinity and karma; Mizuki finds this obsession hilarious at first, although she quickly discovers that her sister’s fascination on spiritual subjects is genuine. Shizuru’s new fixation has made her increasingly distant and blank, which her friends at school have also noticed.
Grandpa has taken the decision to ritually wash away Shizuru’s “smoke of obsession” by sprinkling her with a few drops of water. He describes Saho and her passion for all things spiritual like a bird captured inside a fowling net. He advises Shizuru to express her inner thoughts to clear her mind.
Taking her grandfather’s suggestion, Shizuru tries to have Saho talk about her social life and interest outside studying the paranormal, although she utterly fails – everything Saho talks about is related to ghosts, spirits, or something similar. Observing that the pale green smoke is not “attached” to Saho but is instead coming out from within her, Shizuru hastily departs to talk to her grandfather.
Back at home, grandpa talks about a youkai known as the enenra (煙々羅). He compares this smoke-like youkai to Saho – she appears to be blinded by smoke, as she seeks answers to a subject that is too broad and mysterious to be fully comprehended. She also seems to be trapped by an invisible net, being unable to appreciate and live a healthy life. Grandpa mentions that what Saho needs is something that will blow this unhealthy smoke away.
Shizuru meets Saho after school, and they enter a nearby park. Shizuru tells Saho her respect for Saho’s intelligence and knowledge, but she also mentions that being able to see spirits is probably not as pleasant as Saho presumes it is. She expresses interest in being able to talk to Saho about things besides the supernatural; she compares Saho to an enenra, and explains that an individual will be unable to appreciate and see the spiritual realm if he or she can’t do the same with the real world.
The smoke surrounding Saho fades away, and Saho rushes to hug Shizuru (she found Shizuru’s view on the spiritual world inspiring, according to her). With the problem with Saho over with, Shizuru has similarly lightened up and is back to her normal self. Shizuru remarks that she still sees Saho from time to time – although the smoke surrounding her isn’t completely cleared away, it does vanish occasionally, and Saho has shown interest in other areas such as art and gardening. Shizuru states that it is a source of joy for her to be able to help Saho, and be a “guiding light” of sorts for her.
I have to say that I liked last week’s episode more, although this one was very thought-provoking. The concept of combining blind passion, spiritual smoke, and the enenra was fresh, and considerably different from what I was expecting prior to watching the actual episode (I actually considered Saho to be the enenra itself). Mokke likes to emphasize the importance of balance, and in that regard the case with Saho is not too different between the fragile equilibrium between youkai and humans – it isn’t a good idea for one to overwhelm the other.
For those who are curious, the enenra, like the kesaran-pasaran from a few weeks back, is a youkai that was actually depicted in historical Japanese folklore. A few medieval paintings exist to this day, such as this this one, and it’s quite captivating in a bizarre sort of way.
Next time: Mizuki picks up a new youkai, which turns out to be the rather well-known sickle-weasel, or kamaitachi (鎌鼬). This could really get interesting, if you know what I mean. 😀