「夏の陰画」 (Natsu no Inga)
“Photo Negative of Summer”
As suggested in the preview last time, this week we have a mini story on an old friend of Kazura’s, whom he starts asking around about after seeing him in a photo that Aoi took. Since I never quite know what to expect in this original series, I wasn’t sure what to make of all the little things the episode made note of at first, such as the scar on Kazura’s foot from his childhood. However, once Kazura’s personal investigation into Nishio (Katsu Anri) led him into a run-in with Airi (Endou Aya), a mistress of his old friend, that quickly became an afterthought as things picked up with the arrival of the Kuomintang secret service. After seeing Kazura get a good thrashing when he had no idea what was going on, I can’t say that I’m terribly surprised that Nishio turned out to be a spy they’re after. Of course, I only say that because spies and conspiracies are what this series is all about.
The one thing that I was a bit surprised about though was how little screen time Nishio ended up getting after all the build-up of his character between Kazura and Airi. Following the release of Kazura in exchange for information on where Nishio was about to do a weapons smuggling trade with a Komintern from the Soviet Union, there was only a brief moment when he crossed paths with his old friend. With a character that was only introduced this episode and assassinated by the end of it, I’m pretty impressed how the writers managed to make something relatively significant out of it. For one, their brief exchange of words only entailed Kazura bringing up that Airi is waiting for him, even though everything she knows about Nishio may have been a lie. In contrast to that, Nishio’s unusual way of injuring himself in the same way that others get hurt so that he can share in their pain proves that everything wasn’t a lie. This subtle revelation is why I found the closing scene of his twitching foot with a scar on it spoke volumes about Nishio’s character — much more so than his actual lines in the episode. I just knew there was a purpose in showing the scar on Katsura’s foot early on and this turned out to be it.
With a sense of everything coming full circle in only a matter of twenty minutes, I continue to enjoy how this series does the little things really well, even though they probably go unnoticed or unappreciated by many. Here, I felt there was a fair amount of impact in Nishio’s death when Airi was shown still waiting for his return only moments before. It’s not quite the level of those big twists in some series, but noteworthy given the short time span. It’s just a shame more people aren’t appreciative of stories nowadays that don’t go for sheer shock value or heavy fan-service. In any case, it looks like we’re going to see one of Isao’s men next time, so I’m hoping Yukina will be around too since she was noticeably absent this week.