「暖炉のあかり」 (Danro no Akari)
“AKARI of fireplace”
As much as this episode was about Akari and giving her the Christmas with Santa Claus that she died waiting for, it tied in nicely to Maya’s own past with her father and how she misunderstood him. Christmas ended up being the link, as Maya finally realized that Waldstein Academy was created as the ghost school she asked her father for when she was younger. Truly, Junichirou knows no bounds to get so absorbed into the occult world to grant his cherished daughter that wish, though I’m left wondering if he lost sight of his original goal or discovered something else in the Nostradamus Prophecies along the way. The one thing that caught my attention is that Maya asked for aliens at this school as well, leaving me wondering if she’s the key like I’ve suspected before. If not her, it could be her father who’s gathered all this paranormal activity on Minakami mountain. Now that we know a lot of it was probably forcibly induced, I’m not even going to rule out the possibility that he transcended his own spirit to an alternate plane to continue his work. Whether that’s to prevent the Nostradamus Prophecies or to actually open the rift to give Maya the aliens that she’s wanted I don’t know, but I’m starting to think this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Kumashiro Junichirou. There’s also the suspicion some people raised on the commander of the time agency in the future being Maya’s father, assuming that version of Fumiaki’s story had some element of truth behind it.
If I were to grasp for straws as to why Maya looks like she’s been killed next episode, the obvious possibility is that the same people who got rid of her father came back to do the same to her for getting her nose too deep. Thus far, the only ones we could realistically suspect are Chihiro and her black suit accomplice; however, I’m preparing myself for some really unlikely possibilities as well, such as someone right under our noses. Can you even imagine if the writers are planning to pull one over on us by making it Smile or JK? At this point, the sheer thought of that sounds preposterous, but there’s actually very little in the way that we know about their characters. Another possibility would be the whole transcending death bit I mentioned above, where Maya takes her own life to follow the footsteps of her father (to some end). It’s not very likely since there’s no precedence for it happening, other than the fact that Akari showed ghosts do exist in this fictional world. The last possibility that immediately came to mind is that Maya came to the shocking realization that she is the key and had to get rid of herself to protect the school and the occult. While the preview narration doesn’t give a lot away, Maya did sound more determined than surprised at how she’s going to be dying next time. The only thing that throws off ideas that her death is of her doing is the amount of blood splattered around her body. Whatever the case, those are just some random ideas that I’m juggling around at the moment. Realistically, I expect to be off on all accounts, having fallen victim to the direction the story wants me to believe it’s headed. The one belief that I am holding onto though is that Maya’s not gone for good. We still have three episodes to go. 😛
As for Akari herself, it was nice to see her father get to apologize to her one last time and give her back her snow globe as a parting gift. The most surprising revelation that should have hit her father hard is that she knew all along that he’s Santa Claus and died waiting outside in the cold for him to return. It wasn’t explicitly hinted at, but learning that made me instantly believe that Akari waited out there as long as she did in hopes that her father didn’t think she was a bad girl. Tragic. Other than that, the story is playing with the idea that Maya likes Fumiaki and her getting jealous after he spouted some manly words about wanting to support her as her partner before drooling like a puppy at the sight of Mikaze. However, I still see that as Maya annoyed at how inferior of a woman he makes her feel compared to Mikaze, rather than her having romantic feelings towards him. She’s a girl and would naturally be jealous on some level, but whether or not it stems from romantic feelings is another thing. Given how Fumiaki will sweet talk Maya then drop her in a second, even I want to punch him for being an insensitive idiot. Still, he does man up at times by giving Maya some support when she’s in tears at their old home that’s just been torn down, so I’ll give him some credit for that. Finally, nothing came from Chihiro’s encounter with Mikaze other than them fighting over Fumiaki. As such, I’m starting to think the reason they’re paired together in the opening is to depict the rivalry between them.