「闇の探索」 (Yami no Tansaku)
It was the first time in the series that I actually heard someone say that someone else’s actions directly influenced the course of history in a significant way, but that clearly wasn’t Aoi’s intention when he went after Shizune and prevented Puyi from meeting with her. Puyi’s temper and unrest in turn led to the expedition of his inauguration as emperor of Machukuo — an event that will play a key part in the next episode. The bigger surprise is that Sakurai didn’t show the least bit of concern over Kazura’s clear sign of betrayal, which of course prompted questions about his intentions in all this. Meanwhile, Aoi choosing to act on his own following the discovery of an encrypted note in the shoe sole of one of the two British men last time proved to be an independent course of action that Sakurai probably wasn’t banking on.
To Aoi, he was merely trying to trace the lead left behind the two men, who turned out to be agents from Great Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service “MI6”, and surprise Sakurai with something to make up for his own insubordination before. With the help of Natsume‘s investigation, it eventually leads them to the discovery of an old power plant in Hokuryou that was bought by a foreign company under the name Machuria Temjin Company. Under the assumption that Isao and his men need a large source of power to develop the atomic bombs, tracing the power lines coming out of that plant leads them to hidden facility up in the mountains. Upon seeing how Isao was tipped off before their arrival, I was more or less thinking it was Sakurai’s subordinate that had infiltrated the Sakurai Kikan’s ranks. Much to my shock, it turns out it’s Sakurai himself all along.
Quite honestly, I hadn’t suspected him leading up until now, but the beginning of this episode when he kind of discounted the fact that he went out his way to recruit Kazura into the Sakurai Kikan did make me start wondering if he’s up to anything. I still wasn’t expecting a twist of this magnitude though. Leading up to that, I was already shocked to see Isao take such drastic measures by abandoning the developments facility and destroying all the evidence by blowing it up, before taking off with whatever weaponry they’ve already completed.
On the more philosophical and prophesying side of things, learning that Isao’s former fiancee Towa was the previous generation’s prophet and the reason why he’s doing what he is now finally cleared up where his motives stem from. Likewise, it explains why Towa’s successor Shizune has decided to help him with his radical plans of developing a menacing weapon to help unite Asia and remove European colonization of their land. What throws things in for a whirl though is how the prophecy that Isao showed Kazura indicates that a war with America is imminent in the future and Japan would need to increase its military power five-fold in the next ten years to even stand a chance. Approximately ten years from their time now would put them dead center in World War II, which Japan’s Kwantung Army is seen as one of the causes of when they invaded China in 1937.
With that in mind, I’m left wondering if the story is working towards the revelation that Isao’s attempt to prepare for the upcoming war that’s been prophesied is the very thing that caused it to happen. The irony in that would be totally out of this world if it were the case, but I’d be lying if I said they weren’t making it entertaining every step of the way. I’m still left wondering what happened to Towa when Isao acted in preparation to her prophecy, but he has foreshadowed that he won’t make the same careless mistake again and act on a moonless night this time. Well the next episode revolving around Puyi’s inauguration ceremony just so happens to be one such night, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens then. In particular, I’m curious as to what Kazura will do after Natsume returned his notebook to him, which has a message along the lines of respect and affection towards one’s mother and grandmother. From the looks of it, he’s still completely sold on Isao’s ideals and the vision of a united Asia though.