“A Trap is Set on the Evil Mountain”
Thanks to the groups over-interest in youkai/over-interest in free onsen and meals, the Paranormal Patrol ignore how incredibly creepy the professor is and fail to heed Rikuo’s warnings. With all the foreboding and hints, there is no doubt to the viewer from the beginning that they are walking into a trap. Even with various humorous bits involving Rikuo x Kana and Yura’s receipts mixed in, things were still pretty dark at times, complete with the ominous music. When they arrive at the inn though, the mood changes again with bath scenes. There was Shima wanting to peek at Tsurara in the nude, then immediately agreeing to a youkai hunt after finding out she’s going as well. The love rectangle (parallel lines to be exact) is really just a perk that doesn’t seem too intertwined with the plot and can be frustrating to watch; somehow, I have a feeling Shima’s efforts will come to nothing 😛 The more lighthearted moments seem to be a way to balance things for children, since all “kill-kill-kill” isn’t completely suitable for younger viewers (of course it’s hard to say how appropriate ogling at butts is either). However, I did lol at the assorted cute facial expressions.
With even Yuki-onna getting way too apprehensive, only Rikuo and Yura have their heads together and pretty soon the whole group is split up (just as the bad guys planned) in part due to the antagonists’ puppet abilities. Two of Gyuki’s minions are introduced, Mezumaru and Gozumaru, who make a point of mentioning their names for the viewer while conversing. Watching them throughout the episode, I can say that their ability to control humans is very useful— and perhaps also a bit “overpowered”. They use their powers efficiently and the episode clearly tries emphasize their evil sides, though I don’t think Gyuki is going to be the real villain in this story.
I would say Rikuo really shined in this episode, protecting Yuki-onna after she got stabbed in both feet (ouch) and attacking Gozumaru in his human form. I have no idea where he pulled a sword from, but he sure does look pretty heroic. It seems to be a recurring theme in shounen series that even a wimpy protagonist is able to step up and fight in order to defend his friends. Indeed almost every series features the “protecting others” element in some way, something that’s often not seen in Western entertainment. I’m not worried for the good guys here though; it would really break the mold if any of them actually died. Main protagonists getting killed in this genre is usually a rare and very serious event. Predictability aside, this episode was fairly fun to watch even if nothing was shocking, featuring some action from Rikuo, Yuki and Yura; preview indicates there will be more action next week too as the plot picks up.