「ピエロの処方箋」 (Piero no Shohōsen)
There are no rainbows or tea parties to be had this time around.
The dramatic contrast between the bleakness of this episode and the ones immediately preceding it is almost shocking. Prior to this episode, bad things happened, but there was always an underlying sense of fun and whimsical craziness to uplift the more depressing subplots. Now, however, we get a real change of pace as we concentrate on Gareki’s past and how Tsubaki’s selfish decisions affected his adopted siblings. There’s not a cute animal in sight as things come to a head between the altered Yotaka (who is in the process of turning into a Varuga) and Gareki’s allies, and things get noticeably darker, even when it comes to the color palette.
Though the larger plot at play has to do with the twins and their transformation, this episode, more than anything, is about Gareki. His conflicted emotions about the whole affair arise from the trauma of Tsubaki’s death as well as from the fact that he’s ultimately facing the death of a family member he abandoned in the first place. There’s definitely guilt in the way he goes about dealing with Yotaka and Tsubame, but there’s also attachment and love, something he’s clearly tried to push beneath the surface all this time. Yotaka too seems to feel betrayed after having been abandoned by Gareki, but in his last moments it’s Gareki whom he pleads to kill him, not as an act of revenge, but as an act of compassion. This, more than anything (especially more than the slightly ill-timed flashbacks) speaks to me about the bonds between the three of them, and it’s only that more tragic that Gareki actually gathers his will to go through with it before Hirato beats him to it.
As to the mysterious man behind the whole thing, he turns out to be a Varuga (can anyone not think of the word baluga when they hear this? Seriously?), though his goals in experimenting on the twins are still as mysterious as the general narrative of this series has been all season. I have to wonder when and if we’ll start getting answers, but depressing though it was, we at least got a good look into some of Gareki’s psyche and motivations, and characterization is always a plus in my book.