「異国の味に己が境遇を知る」 (Ikoku no Aji ni Ono ga Kyooguu o Shiru)
“The Foreign Taste Tells All”
An immensely promising entry of things to come.
This week, Kuromukuro skillfully managed both to develop its characters as well as set up a larger plot for the series to work towards.
The episode started off with its lead samurai once again adjusting to facets of modern life. He yells at the people inside the television, guffaws at the concept of contemporary foods, dismisses modern undergarments, and so on. What’s more, it’s all genuinely funny, despite having been done countless times before. The conflict between Kennosuke’s refusal to toss aside his traditional Japanese ways and his honest willingness to adapt and change to this new world makes for some great humor. All the gags and jokes made these characters all the more likable.
Where this week’s installment really shined, however, was its organic development not only of its characters, but of the plot going forward. Little hints and bits of exposition concerning the invading mechs were sprinkled about the episode. We were informed how incredibly tough and powerful they were (enough to survive a motherf*ckin’ nuke), establishing the physical obstacles and goals our heroes will eventually come up against. We also learned that only the artifact could effectively take out these threats, and that only Yukina and Kennosuke can pilot it. This gave us a sense of the challenges that lay ahead, and the likely pertinence that Kennosuke and Yukina set aside their squabbles to combat these foes. A subtle yet memorable way to set up the ensuing narrative. More importantly, though, was how the exposition established personal motivations and objectives of our protagonists.
Yukina finally received some substantial development this week. Towards the beginning of the episode, she quickly dismissed the importance of a father figure in her life. This planted a seed of intrigue that paid off during the episode’s concluding act, as we finally found out what happened to her father and what sort of psychological trauma that inflicted on her. Since her father seems to have nonsensically pursued research on fantasy and fairy tales right before mysteriously disappearing, Yukina is frustratingly left in the dark at both the loss of her father. She’s never received any closure on the matter, and thus, is mentally tortured at the mere mention of him. The fact that he’s an object of mockery to everyone around her doesn’t help either. This really opened up her character, and fleshed her out with insecurity, worry, doubt—essentially, true weakness. I feel way more familiar with who she is now, and what’s important to her.
This makes her relationship with Kennosuke all the more profound. As she realizes, Kennosuke has finally opened the door not only to the credence of her father’s work (and thus his reputation), but potentially the location of her father—or at least just finding out what happened to him. His insistence on seemingly ridiculous talks of demons and folklore are the key to closure and knowledge which has emotionally crippled her for so many years.
At the same time, Yukina could potentially provide the knowledge to solve Kennosuke’s own conflictions. He’s still visibly torn not only at the death of his most beloved (whether romantically or not, we’ve yet to see), but also by a lack of closure. He can’t find any information anywhere he looks at the fate of his cherished family and friends. You can imagine the shock and agony at having everything you love instantly ripped away from you, and being completely left in the dark as to why. What fate befell the people most important to him? Why is he here now? The research of Yukina’s father seems to hold at least some inkling of answer. Thus, Yukina forces herself to address old wounds by investigating his private study—she’s almost literally prying pen old wounds—in order to help out her new comrade.
This makes their relationship thematically rife, both with the significance of their friendship and the personal goals which will catalyze the plot going forward. These are two individuals merely out for some closure about the fate of their loved ones. Their dynamic is founded upon two-way emotional support—despite their gap in time, they’re more alike than they think. I finally feel that our two main characters have been fleshed out enough for the show to place them in foreign territory. The fact that their personal goals will be fulfilled by discovering more about the lore is a clever and meaningful way to keep us interested in the same. Overall an incredibly strong episode, and one which bodes well for things to come.
Author’s Note: By the way, does anyone know the show is receiving such little love with subs? I don’t know what it is, but a subbed version of this episode wasn’t even uploaded until this morning, despite the fact that Kuromukuro airs on Thursdays. If this keeps occurring, I apologize for the inconsistent times at which my posts will go up as the weeks go on—I’m completely at the beck and call of the sub overlord.
Update: Got my question answered, thanks!