「文明の道程」 (Bunmei no Doutei)
Last episode felt a bit lacking with Kozue’s occult fanaticism, so it was nice to learn that something came from her interest in Antoine de Saint-Exupéry‘s famous short novel, The Little Prince (a.k.a. “Hoshi no Ouji-sama”). I was still expecting her change in personality to be attributed to something other than losing a part of herself in the supposed afterlife, so it felt like a bit of a letdown when that’s what it turned out to be. While I did appreciate how this explanation ties in her interest in The Little Prince and how it adheres to the reported effects of near-death experiences, I was hoping for something a lot eerier since it’s the afterlife we’re dealing with. Probably not quite like how she got possessed back in episode one, but something along the lines of a more innocent spirit taking over her body when she got swept away. However, where the creepiness didn’t reach the levels I was hoping for, the comedy sure picked up a lot of the slack.
Maya’s facial expressions are always a lot of fun, so it was nice to see some good ones when she was helping Ami try to bring the old Kozue back by fabricating some paranormal activity. Of the ones in this episode, I still get a good laugh out of her sadistic side showing up for a brief second when they were testing Kozue’s improved eyesight without her glasses. If you ever wanted photographic evidence that Maya enjoys hitting people, you just need to see her serious expression prior to laying a hand on Ami and the one in the middle of doing so. Naturally, she goes back to being all serious again right after like nothing happened. In comparison, Fumiaki’s idiocy of throwing his cellphone away out of frustration, faking the bending of a spoon at Maya’s “request”, and stripping down in front of everyone without thinking provided his share of laughs this week. They were of the slapstick variety, but I never get sick of those when they entail self-ownage.
In contrast, the semi-serious turn of events wasn’t one I was expecting. Starting with Kozue’s uncontrollable tears over what appeared to be the realization that she was missing a part of herself, and continuing on to Fumiaki’s childhood where his mother was obsessed with milking his spoon-bending ability, the visions of the future and the dropping of an atomic bomb against the aliens cemented the notion that this series isn’t all fun and games. What’s more, Maya’s reaction to learning that Fumiaki went through an experience very similar to her own spoke volumes about how she sympathized with him, whereas proof that the whole alien story wasn’t just made up brought about a very different side of her on top of that. The inclusion of some character development in both her and Fumiaki was a nice touch, since we haven’t seen much of anything in that regard thus far. In light of Fumiaki’s visions of his past, I can’t help but wonder if there’s more to Maya’s one. We already got a glimpse of how she loved her father before he was consumed by the occult world, so I’m curious as to whether there’s some follow-up history we could have learned about if she had gone in like originally planned.
For now, I’m pretty content with the added depth in Fumiaki’s character, which makes him deserving of some sympathy for a change — something that his exaggerated stories about being a time agent and leaving behind girls to save his own hide never did. He also deserves some credit for volunteering to go in to retrieve Kozue’s other half instead of letting Maya do it, so he’s slowly digging himself out of the huge hole he got himself into. To help balance out the serious change of pace, it felt rather befitting that they slipped in some comedic moments at the very end. Namely, Kozue’s glasses being over her head, and Maya flipping out at Fumiaki for helping Mikaze sell bread out of her Porsche. The latter didn’t take too much away from Maya’s improved opinion of Fumiaki in the scene before, so hopefully their relationship will be a little less sadomasochistic from now on. I highly doubt it, but if they can start working together to save the world, it’d be a nice step in the right direction. 😛