「暗雲の予兆」 (Anun no Yochou)
“Omen of the Dark Clouds”
Looks like Hiiro no Kakera is giving that plot horse a good kick in the behind – things seem to actually be happening, and although the segue into Shinji’s past and the lead-up to the revelation of his betrayal was a little clunky, Suguru’s development evened things out tremendously in terms of writing.
The price of duty ties heavily into the overarching theme again, and while it’s not overly emphasized, it’s easy to see the consequences of continuously forcing the guardians’ roles onto them. For Shinji, it’s cruel to take away his sense of belonging from him just because he didn’t seem to have the powers required from a guardian – while it’s definitely not easy to stand by his attitude in the present, it’s much harder to point fingers at a little boy who just wanted to go back to his home. The traditions of the Kifu village, the gods, and even the Tamayori Princesses are depicted as cutthroat and cold-hearted, painted firmly in black and white. There’s no greys anywhere – everything is done to upkeep the spiritual balance and individuality becomes a lost thing.
That said, Suguru’s supposed “grudge” needs no explanations. In fact it’s commendable he was able to separate personal conflicts from his role as a guardian so well for so long. Losing a parent is a traumatic event in itself, but to have his life dictated by the very forces that took his mother’s life is an internal strife that knows no bounds. Irony aside, it’s difficult to blame him for any of his actions as he has an extremely legit reason to turn his back on his duties, if the betrayal is real. It’s hard to discern how joining Logos will help Suguru achieve his goal of stopping the ceremonial offering – perhaps a better question to ask at this point is just what the ceremonial offering is. I assume it works like any other ritual sacrifice… if so, then who is the martyr this time? Tamaki? She would be the most logical options, yet as the Tamayori Princess – the very being that keeps the world’s spiritual balance in check – she seems a bit of an off choice. Sacrificing her defeats the purpose, which doesn’t leave many people as viable sacrifices.
In any case, Suguru’s straightforward approach to his actions are a lot more likeable than Shinji’s half-hearted excuses, especially since it doesn’t seem like he clued the rest of the group into his own betrayal. That strikes me as a duplicitous move on Shinji’s part, where his character crosses the boundary from a lost boy who wanted a place to belong to a traitor who is choosing to put his comrades in danger. This is a fairly important distinction as right up until Suguru caught onto him, Shinji was still a wholly sympathetic character. It’s hard to argue with his desire to be accepted back into his community, and it’s a motivation the audience can root for. But now the hole he’s digging is completely of his own volition, which shifts the empathy away from him. Not only is he making excuses, it seems he’s unwilling to own up to his own wrongs. I have no doubt in my mind a redemption is in store for him very, very soon – I can only hope it’s just as satisfying as the other character-defining moments in Hiiro no Kakera have been. Hopefully the execution will be a little better that time too, as some of the exposition in this episode seemed a little on the weak side.
This second episode is definitely a lot better than the premiere both in terms of content and character development. Events are actually occurring instead of remaining in stasis due to recaps, and the switches in focus to different characters are much less jarring than it was last week. Here’s to hoping next week is even better than this one!