「空守村」 (Karakami Mura)
Compared to the action-packed previous episode, the trip to Karakami Village was a lot more easygoing. Be that as it may, the formal introduction of Kyouhei and Utao’s hometown and the explanations about the Kakashi made this episode just as good. That’s before taking into consideration the precarious position that Hibino wound up with Kyouhei stripping her from the top and Utao from the bottom. Their facial expressions said it all, particularly Utao’s.
Surprisingly, Somaki Moyako (Takagaki Ayahi) didn’t turn out to be the childhood rival I was anticipating, and is instead a girl pretty bent on succeeding the Utsuwashi 「器師」 — caretakers of the Kakashi. Judging from the scene in the neuron network-like forest, she didn’t even show any signs of interest in Kyouhei when she picked Hibino’s brain. Her younger sister Yurako (Yamaguchi Rie) on the other hand was much more predictable after seeing her latch onto Utao in the preview last time. In fact, Yurako was the dead giveaway that the village with dark secrets wasn’t going to be as inhospitable as it sounded. From Kyouhei and Utao’s parents — their father Yasuyuki (Imamura Naoki) and mother Hitomi (Taniguchi Keiko) — to their grandfather and head of the Kuga family, Kiyokata (Senda Mitsuo), they all gave off a loving family impression. I didn’t even sense any ill will toward Kyouhei when his father pointed out that he ran away and dumped all his responsibilities on Utao, even though Kyouhei got pretty upset.
The Kuga family is a pretty stark contrast to the Hyuuga, after we got a glimpse of Amaterasu that they’re keeping stowed away. Unlike Kiyokata, Sahei exudes a lot more ill-contempt, partly because I tend to associate Shibata Hidekatsu’s roles with the likes of King Bradley in Fullmetal Alchemist. What’s interesting is that Koushirou and his wife Kii-chan (Ogata Megumi in a minor role) don’t give off a similar vibe whatsoever, and Kirio is portrayed as a victim of the Hyuuga family who’s easily misunderstood. The latter’s resentment toward his now confirmed older twin sister Utao is fairly easy to take in, having seen this pattern in other series such as Hakuouki. For that reason, I can’t really picture Kirio as a straightforward villain anymore. In the worst case scenario, he’ll continue to be used by Sahei — possibly to control Amaterasu as foreshadowed — and will be killed, releasing him from his hatred and becoming a tragedy. In a more ideal scenario, he’ll come around and side with Utao and live to see another day. On both ends of the spectrum and every possibility in between, Kirio simply doesn’t come off as a true antagonist.
On the more concrete side of things, it’s nice to finally get an explanation on how the Kakashi work, which also suggested that they may be capable of experiencing pain. However, I get the feeling they’re simply empty husks like they’ve been described to be, and the pet-like attachment toward their Seki is more for us as the viewer than the story itself. In any case, the story is taking a nice turn after Hibino paid a visit to her family’s grave — presumably for her mother — and things started becoming “clearer”. The end of the episode already kicked off Kyouhei’s flashback to six years ago, starting with the arrival of his teacher to their small town. I honestly don’t see the resemblance to Hibino that Aki alluded to, but seeing as she’s not around, it’s probably safe to assume that something happened to her. As part of this trip down memory lane, I suspect we’ll finally get some answers about what corrupted Aki. I picked up some tidbits while researching for the season preview, so I’ve been looking forward to seeing it animated.
* As some people have already pointed out, there have been subtle changes in both the OP and ED with the addition of Kirio. Hyuuga Mahiru (Hanazawa Kana) should be added next.
* It’s probably worth noting that the OP sequence shows Kyouhei with Kukuri when all the Seki/Kakashi pairings are shown, so it seems likely he’ll take control of it again at some point.
* Gotta love Moyako’s choice of words. I actually didn’t pick up Ayahi’s voice during all her yelling.
* Full-length images: 02, 06, 13, 14, 23, 34, 36.