With Tsubaki’s consciousness inside the desolate world of the phantom blade Masamune, Black*Star watches over her body in the real world, even as the hostile villagers start hitting him. She’s currently locked in battle with her brother, but he stops all her attacks and compares her to a tsubaki (camellia) flower which has no scent because he feels that she was never asserted herself on anything and bloomed quietly. After inflicting a grave wound to her, Masamune questions if she’s afraid to die, and Tsubaki answers that she’d stop him even if she died. The look on her face haunts Masamune because it reminds him that she was the one who led him to the path of the phantom blade. Back at Shibusen, Stein explains to the students that Tsubaki and Masamune are pulling on each other’s souls: Tsubaki is trying to absorb her brother’s soul whereas he’s trying to take possession of hers. Stein thinks that Tsubaki doesn’t have a very good chance of winning, but more importantly, he wonders why Masamune seeks power and is walking down this path.
Back inside the desolate world, Masamune questions why Tsubaki isn’t using any of her special weapons and thinks that she’s pitying him. Normally, the eldest son from their family would have inherited those weapons, but in their case, Tsubaki got them instead. He’s furious because Tsubaki never showed her feelings and was careful around him, and he intends to kill her to become a Kishin, thus allowing him to master the path of the sword. Masamune has his shadows grab her so that he can personally stab her, but all she can think about is Black*Star. In the real world, Black*Star recalls how, back when they first entered Shibusen, he had announced himself to the entire school, but only Tsubaki had stuck around to hear the entire speech. Just like how she had watched him then, he intends to watch her now, and he stops one of the villagers from hitting her lifeless body. Tsubaki meanwhile remembers back to her childhood with her brother and how she had once chosen to play kemari with him even though she had truly wanted to play house instead. This was because she had asked herself if they would have been able to keep playing if she had said that. When Masamune accuses her of pitying him and enjoying feeling superior, Tsubaki is silent until Black*Star suddenly appears in her memories, saying that he knows that she doesn’t feel that way.
These words awaken the will in Tsubaki to fight back and oppose her brother’s claim that she’s a stale flower. Believing that tsubaki flowers do have a scent, Tsubaki rips through Masamune’s shadows and locks swords with him in a clash of power that kicks up the water all around them. The result of this in the real world is that Tsubaki’s body suddenly gets sucked into the sword. Afraid that she might have lost, Black*Star pokes the sword and desperately calls for his partner to come out for an encore. Inside, Masamune had succeeded in stabbing Tsubaki in the chest, but the lower half of his body is gone. She had shown him her feelings, and as he disappears, he realizes that she, the tsubaki flower, does have a good scent. A short while later, the sword in the real world transforms into Tsubaki. Once she announces her return, Black*Star questions if she’s okay, and when he notices that she might not be even though she says she is, he opens his arms in an offer to hold her. The smile on his face causes her to start crying, and she runs to him in tears. Their moment is short-lived however because the villagers still want them gone, and the two get run out of town again. They eventually return to the academy, and on their way to see Shinigami-sama, Tsubaki gladly confirms that she’ll continue to be Black*Star’s weapon even though she’s now settled the stuff from her past. Unfortunately, when Black*Star tries to show off the new phantom blade mode Tsubaki got from her brother, he faints in front of everyone because he’s not powerful enough yet to use it.
Holy crap that was an incredible episode. Not only did it have some impressive fight choreography, it was beautifully animated – even more than usual – and featured some touching moments to boot (i.e. Black*Star calling for the encore, and Tsubaki crying in his arms). This may have just become my favorite episode yet. The only (minor) thing that was disappointing was Masamune’s actual character, and that’s mostly because he was a one-shotter, meaning that he came across as somewhat one-sided – once the one issue he had with Tsubaki was resolved, that was it and he was gone. I was also hoping for a more compelling reason for why he wanted to become a Kishin, something more connected to the fear of death theme. The upside of Masamune being gone of course is that Tsubaki gained a new ability/weapon form, theoretically making her stronger, and I’m sure they’re saving that for a later fight. Maybe we’ll get to see it in action in this upcoming arc with Medusa and whoever the new characters are (one of whom appears to be another witch).