「決戦の刻(とき)」 (Kessen no Toki)
“The Hour of the Decisive Battle”
O hope, hope, wherefore art thou, hope? I think “shit hits the fan” describes this episode very aptly and all I can say at the end of the day is: oy, Grandma – how about we stop being so stingy with the information? All the artifacts are now in Logos’ hands, and there really isn’t anything to give the protagonists any hope; the seal is broken, and the Onikirimaru will presumably be released. Of course, there’s also the issue of what it means for Takuma since the sword is closely connected to his demonic nature. It’s possible that he might even be used by Aria to achieve her goals, although I don’t see this as a very likely course of action. In any case Takuma looks very close to awakening the legendary Oni, and hopefully Tamaki can somehow become the Tamayori Princess in time to prevent that calamity. A repeat of the myth will just be too upsetting to see, especially since the ending is so tragic. Zwei’s assessment of Mahiro already bothers me, and I assume his reluctance to keep living is handed down from his ancestors – he’s always known more than he lets on, and it’s likely he’s even aware of the rest of the legend.
Having that knowledge is probably excruciating, and it’s this episode I realized what a truly layered character Mahiro is. It’s easy to pass him off as the token loudmouth, especially in multi-lead adaptations like these where there just isn’t enough room or time to cram everyone’s routes into one series and make it coherent. It becomes even more of a problem when a studio chooses to focus on one person’s route, as Studio DEEN seems to have chosen with Hiiro no Kakera – so when secondary characters are explored so subtly and so well, I have to give credit where it’s due. It’s all too easy to degrade Mahiro’s character to a flat one, but DEEN has managed to give him an incredible amount of growth, and it’s really evident here. Not only is he totally bro, he possesses a surprising amount of maturity; in a sense, he plays the clown to keep the atmosphere light, which was why the show took such a darker turn several episodes back when Mahiro’s spirit took a downward tumble.
It’s a different sort of maturity from Yuuichi that I appreciate and as two of the older guardians, he and Mahiro are truly playing their roles very well.
This episode was the penultimate episode before the mid-season finale, and honestly, I have no idea where the story will go. I thought Tamaki and the others would at least secure one artifact, but on the contrary, they lost all five of them – I can’t yet say whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing; it’s certainly different that the heroes are losing so badly, but at the same time, this issue is one that could’ve been very easily prevented if there was enough information given to them. It really irks me that Tamaki has all this determination but no means to actually use it. Everything is in riddles, and apparently no one feels the need to share information with one another, creating needless difficulty and strife.
I understand Grandma’s intention to let Tamaki find the answer for herself (if that actually is her intention), but she has to be given the necessary tools and a moldy storage full of old book just doesn’t cut it. Even Masataka and Ryou look like they know more than she and the Guardians do, and that’s not good. At least Ryou seems like he’s taking a more active part in the story, directly warning Tamaki of an impending betrayal; I’m guessing it’ll either come from Shinji, or even Grandma herself.
P.P.S.: … Ka… zaa… na…?!