「ひが日死の巫女」 (Higanishi no Miko)
It’s the precursor to the finale and a pretty good one at that with a huge cliffhanger involving the fourth phase and the revival of King Samekh. There still wasn’t clear indication as to what drove Sugata to Kiraboshi’s side, but further implication that it’s for Keito’s sake makes it the most plausible explanation. The only thing that threw me in for a bit of a whirl was Sugata queuing up his first phase while Keito was pouring out her feelings for him as her raison d’être. He did make it clear that he wants to see her live on and stressed that she could pass on her mark to future generations to deal with though, suggesting that he was willing to resign to his fate as Samekh’s driver if that’s what she truly wanted. At least, that’s the impression I got from his unshakable resolve when Tiger and Jaguar showed up to assassinate him, having inherited the powers to kill Samekh’s driver.
Whether intentional or not, Tiger’s inability to do so emphasized how emotions defy logic and duties, which probably applies to Sugata as well to a certain degree. While there hasn’t been indication that he has any romantic interest in Keito, he did lower his head to allow her to kiss him. If nothing else, that went on to show that he’s considerate of her feelings, even if it meant lying to himself. To me, I still don’t see that as good enough reason to go along with Kiraboshi’s plans, seeing as there are probably other ways of going about it if it’s only Keito’s he’s concerned about. As such, it could very well be that Sugata’s grown tired of avoiding his destiny as Samekh’s driver and decided to carry out what his inherited mark is beckoning him to do. The subtle twist is that he’s left a fail-safe of sorts in Takuto (or so it would seem) to stop him at his own judgement.
Considering how a lot of the mark holders have had duties thrust upon them, I think it’s only natural for at least a handful to want to go against what’s expected of them. This goes for Keito as well, who’s chosen to support Sugata instead of protecting her maiden seal. The flashback where she and Wako apprivoised to save Sugata was somewhat saddening to see, since it showed just how long Keito’s been healing Sugata without his knowledge. However, it did shed some light on where Keito’s coming from and how it’s hard to see her as the enemy despite her actions. What’s more, she appears to harbor more feelings of reluctance than Sugata, which I’ll attribute to the delicateness of a maiden’s heart.
All of the above is simply to try and make sense of how we got to where we are now, with Reiji inheriting Shingo’s mark and using it to apprivoise the Sympathy, while Sugata takes up his intimidating role in Samekh after Keito’s seal was broken. What’s interesting is that the preview shows Kiraboshi on the receiving end of Samekh’s wrath, which seems to support my previous idea about how most of its members aren’t really antagonists. Driving that point home was Kanako, who revealed that her cruise ship has been docked at the island to help evacuate Southern Cross Island’s inhabitants in case the volcano erupts. Of course, that doesn’t mean there isn’t an ultimate antagonist that Takuto will have to face off in the finale.
I don’t think it comes as too much of surprise on who that will be, but in case anyone’s wondering, Japanese television guides have given a short synopsis on the final episode. It should be pretty exciting. For my translation of it, see below. Credit goes to the denizens of 2chan for the info as well as this preview compilation.