「ある夜の出来事」 (Aru Yoru no Dekigoto)
“The Incident That Night”
Magical shrine maidens fighting enraged artifact spirits? Not that I mind or anything when it’s Kotone and Akari involved, but I feel like we’re losing focus of a certain someone and his cat curse.
The more correct term for these spirits would be tsukumogami 「付喪神」, which manifest themselves after years of built-up spiritual power. While usually only a source of pranks, tsukumogami sometimes turn pent up sorrow into all-out rage and act on it. Junpei has the unfortunate privilege of running into one after Kanako fails her exam. She blames him for it since she was taking care of him the day before, so everyone decides to help with the remedial local history report she has to write. This leads to Junpei seeking the help of Kotone and Akari, the former of which ends up taking them around town and telling her made up stories. In the shopping district, the group comes across a huge white porcelain cat statue — a manekineko 「招き猫」 — that Haruhiko, Kouta, and Kanako play with despite the superstitions about doing so. Kaede on the other hand is scared, so Kanako decides to dispel her fear by drawing on it. Akari freaks out though, because of a rumored curse that will fall upon those who deface it, and attempts to cleanse the statue.
Needless to say, the damage was done and we have one pissed off tsukumogami. That night, the cat-like figure that Kotone and Akari have been trying to deal with previously becomes the statue itself. Akari ends up expending all her spiritual power trying to defeat it and needs to recharge on Pocky, her source of energy according to Kotone. However, she gets the box knocked out of her hand before she can eat enough, while Junpei and Kotone get tossed around like rag dolls themselves. Cue in emergency mouth-to-mouth Pocky delivery, which rejuvenates Akari with enough overflowing power to exorcise the spirit.
That makes up the gist of things anyway. There was an overarching backstory on how Akari never really had friends because her strong spiritual powers freaked other kids out. Likewise for Kotone, except she brought it upon herself by giving her teacher a voodoo doll of the school principal on his birthday. (Freakishly disturbing, but thoughtful…) Akari’s lack of friends was resolved after she wore the hairpins Kanako bought her as thanks for helping her out. This subplot didn’t have a huge bearing on the overall episode, but it was a nice addition comedy-wise. The best part of the episode was undoubtedly Junpei’s mouth-to-mouth Pocky delivery though. After seeing this scene, I couldn’t help but laugh at where it was going when I had seen the preview from last time. Akari’s look and reluctance were absolutely priceless as they read, “You got to be freaken kidding me.”
Surprisingly, this episode appears to be completely anime original. This just goes to show how adaptations can put their own spin on the source material and do it well, provided that they have a good studio/production team behind it. Granted, you can’t really go wrong with the Kirishima twins here, but I still give credit to AIC for getting the job done. Their work here in conjunction with AIC ASTA’s in Sora no Otoshimono this season have easily made them one of my favorite production companies. With only two episodes left, I was happy to see them bring up the issue with Junpei’s curse at the very end with him sensing something’s up. The sight of Neko Jizou-sama’s statue knocked over again was a nice cliffhanger, and should lead us towards some sort of anime original conclusion. I’d say it’s highly likely we’re going to get an open-ended finish where Junpei doesn’t end up with anyone, but at least we have a Christmas episode next week with Kanako taking the initiative. Speaking of which, it’s almost that time of the year!