「大日本を覆う影」 (Dai Nippon wo Oou Kage)
“The Shadow Cast Over Great Japan”
“My cottage!!!” That may sound ridiculously random if you haven’t watched this episode yet, but those who have should know what I’m referring to after Kanetsugu decides to make the doghouse outside Yagyuu dojo her new home. I actually went back to that scene several times and found it just as funny as the first time, thanks to Toyosaki Aki’s haughty yet amiable portrayal of our purple-haired disposable samurai. I’m kind of wary about how I’ve been getting a lot of enjoyment from watching the “victimized character” in anime these days and how it might awaken the inner sadist in me; however, if there’s a series to blame for that this season, it would be Shinryaku Ika Musume. Much like how it’s funny seeing a stupid squid girl get her noggin drilled for sneaking in some late-night gaming, it’s just as hilarious to seeing a stupid samurai girl get kicked in the head for crying over the destruction of her doghouse home. As such, Kanetsugu is quickly becoming my favorite character to watch, which only works as well as it does with people like Sen and Yukimura showing her her place and telling her to shut up for being annoying. It’s kind of cold from an objective point of view, but I have to agree with Yukimura on how idiots are built tough — at least in anime anyway.
While most of this episode seemed to be devoted to “Gutsugutsu’s” addition to the regular gang (as Jubei likes to call her) and the hilarity that followed suit, it also incorporated a somewhat touching sub-story involving Hanzou’s past with Sen. It hardly constitutes something that would invoke any significant amount of emotion from the viewer, but the eventual battle with the invisible three-headed hydra (of sorts) did work it in to provide a welcomed dimension to this series. While chivalry and self-sacrifice are two themes that tend to be a bit overused, they almost always strike a compassionate chord in me. To that end, the flashbacks going back to when Hanzou would stand up for Sen without realizing that she knew all along helped the overall effect they were going for. Surprisingly, even Kanetsugu’s goofy reactions at that point didn’t take too much away from it, though I admittedly liked how the writers didn’t back down from the image they’ve given her. I say if she’s going drive the humor with her stupidity, she’s got to be dumb almost all the time.
For a moment, they had me going with the idea that Muneakira was going to kiss Hanzou and add her to his master samurai collection. The only thing that had me holding onto the possibility that it was a fake-out is how the opening sequence only shows marks on Jubei, Yukimura, and Sen. I’m not opposed to the idea that Hanzou will join them though, as I’m wondering if Kanetsugu will succumb to the “kissing machine” as well. Given how the latter still sees Muneakira as a wild beast she’d rather have dead, I’d be all for it just to see her reaction and behavior change that’s bound to go with it. In the meantime, I’m more than content with her presence being a running joke, seeing as there’s been some more foreshadowing from Tokugawa server files that Yukimura managed to hack into. There’s still nothing tangible about what this “shadow” entails, but I gather the appearance of Yagyuu Gisen (Mizuhara Kaoru) next time should help move things along. Good laughs, samurai action, sentimental moments, and an overarching plot that loosely strings it all together. What that all equates to is a lot of enjoyment for me. Hyakka Ryouran has quickly been one of my most entertaining shows this season, which I guess is saying something when I’m watching 24 concurrently.