Five years ago, when he was in the North, Raigyo had been on a boat with a bunch of Ruikonism followers near a structure called the Diamond Tower. Shortly after Raigyo took a picture of it, a white-haired boy appeared on the deck and blew himself up. Raigyo survived the explosion, but he had a Hiruko seed implanted in his shoulder and began to turn to stone. He had been saved only after a young Nakiami appeared, and although she nearly became covered in stone herself, she brought him back to the Zanbani with Ahm’s help. Ishu had punished Nakiami for this by repeatedly slapping her, but she let Raigyo stay, and the rest is history. After Akushiba explains all of this, Akiyuki wonders why Nakiami is willing to go as far as sacrifice herself in order to save them. Akushiba’s only answer is that Nakiami can’t live normally and disregard the Hiruko’s voice like everyone else. Meanwhile, on Sentan Island, Haru runs into Furuichi again while she’s standing in line getting her military ID picture taken, and he makes a comment about how she should just continue waiting for Akiyuki. Afterwards, Prois approaches Haru as she’s starting at her photo and tells her that her heart doesn’t show up in it.
Later that day, Haru and Furuichi participate in target practice in their ASP Suits, and Furuichi does exceptionally well. When Prois observes that Haru isn’t improving, Kakisu suggests that she lacks resolve and decides to have her come see him. Elsewhere on the island, Ryuuzou goes to see his wife to tell her that the ship that Akiyuki’s letter came from isn’t registered, so they don’t know where it is. He wants her to forgive him, but he doesn’t say it loud enough and backs off from the statement when she claims not to have heard him. Since today happens to be Armistice Day, Ryuuzou then goes to a monument to honor those who died. He runs into an old buddy there, and after the two talk about the past, the other guy suggests that it’s time for them to take action. That night, Haru visits Kakisu in his office, and Kakisu claims that he doesn’t blame her for sticking up for Akiyuki. He thinks that she did the right thing as a woman just as Furuichi did the right thing as a soldier, but he feels that she has to mature. Kakisu then reminds Haru that this is the path she chose and advises her to give up on the past. As she goes to leave, he also tells her to take care of her little sister.
Back on the Zanbani, Raigyo shows the children the pictures he took during his travels, and he decides to take a photo of the crew. While the children go off to tell everyone, Akiyuki wonders if he’ll one day be able to live independently as a Xam’d like Raigyo did. Not directly addressing the question, Raigyo shows Akiyuki a picture of the Diamond Tower and asks if Akiyuki has ever seen it. Akiyuki gets a creepy feeling from just looking at the picture, and Raigyo notes that it’s the place where they were washed ashore. This statement doesn’t make sense to Akiyuki, and Raigyo subsequently takes a picture of him looking confused. When the time comes for the group picture, the guys are surprised to see Nakiami with a different hairstyle, courtesy of Yunbo. While Raigyo is preparing the camera, Nakiami takes the chance to apologize to Ishu for always causing trouble. The group picture goes off without a hitch, and Raigyo and Akiyuki develop the photos together afterwards. Raigyo takes the time to point out that the Hiruko in Akiyuki’s arm and in his own shoulder glow in the pictures, and he uses this to convey the idea that you cannot find yourself if you run away from reality. He wants to live on in order to show the white-haired children that the seed they planted in him grew up splendidly, and that is his tentative answer for what the Xam’d seeks.
Haru meanwhile has dinner with her family, and her father worries about her and mentions how she’s like her mother. This reminds Haru of how, two years ago, she had rushed to the hospital because her mother and little sister had been hit by a military vehicle that had ignored a traffic light. Her mother’s death had left Haru feeling lost about what to do, but she had heard her mother’s voice tell her not to cry because they would always be together. Akiyuki, who had followed her to the hospital, had suggested that even if two people could not see each other, they are connected through their souls. Haru now feels that she doesn’t want to just cry and wait, and she tells her little sister that she enlisted not because she wants to find Akiyuki but because she wants to protect her family and this town. As a result of this, she decides to cut her hair short. Back on the Zanbani, the crew detects a Northern Humanform Dropship approaching, but instead of trying to avoid it, Raigyo has Ahm keep the ship on course so that he can give Akiyuki some training. He instructs Akiyuki to take care of the Humanform Weapon coming as part of a lesson about protecting oneself, and he tells Akiyuki to think for himself instead of looking to him for answers. With no other choice, Akiyuki unwraps his right arm and prepares to fight.
I realized as I was watching this episode that, in contrast to how I’ve felt about the series up to now, I’ve actually started to like the Akiyuki half of the story more than the Haru half. It probably has everything to do with Raigyo’s appearance making things more exciting on the Zanbani compared to how Haru keeps getting served downers by Furuichi and Kakisu (the latter of whom was rather creepy in the scene where he had his shirt unbuttoned – I kept thinking he was going to make a move on her). I’m not sure about the direction Haru’s character is going either. Her new haircut suggests a new attitude, but I’m not entirely convinced yet that her stated reason for enlisting (to protect) is genuine. Then again, one of the main themes right now on both sides of the story seems to be maturing/growing up, so maybe she really has decided to move on. If so, then it’s likely that she’ll have to face Akiyuki as an enemy the next time their paths cross.
As for Raigyo, he appears to be settling nicely into the mentor role, but part of me is still a little suspicious of him because he’s relatively new and would be perfect to pull off a betrayal. The problem is that we’re ten episodes into the series now, but aside from the generic Northern Government and Furuichi being an asshole, the writers haven’t really established a main villain. One may not necessarily be needed at this point, but I doubt they’d wait too much longer to introduce the character, assuming he or she hasn’t already been shown. I’m curious to see if any bad guys other than the Humanform Weapon show up in the next couple of episodes, and along those same lines, if Raigyo will stick around. The preview for next week suggests some big things could happen on the ship.