「愛の誓い」 (Ai no Chikai)
“Vows of Love”
As Cutie Honey Universe‘s tone gets bleaker and bleaker by the minute, so does Tarantula’s resolve. Being the only member of the Panther Claw syndicate with any character development, special attention is drawn to how exactly Sister Jill’s behavior is affecting her and her resolve to continue her job. She’s beyond loyal to Sister Jill, but because she had attracted her love and attention up to the point that Honey came into the picture, she finds that her loyalty to Jill is tested by how much of her true colors have been revealed through her pursuit of Honey. Jill’s lack of concern or interest in other Panther Claw members who have died call attention to the expendable nature of Tarantula’s existence, and she’s having a hard time coping with the idea that Jill would be unfazed if she were to get killed, and that she was being tricked all along to satiate Jill’s desire to see Honey break.
Throughout the episode, Tarantula goes through emotional ups and downs as she lets Natsuko slip away after she’s inspired by Natsuko’s angst to tell her about her point-of-view on letting someone know they love them. Tarantula starts to see herself as not so different from Natsuko as she continues to chase after a love that she finds is too closed off to reach. Her mindset wavers during the episode in an erratic pace, but is at its most emotional when she helps motivate Honey to kill Octopus. Honey and Octopus are taken aback when Tarantula lectures Honey on why she’s lowering her guard for Octopus, but her devotion to Jill puts herself in the odd position where she wants to make sure that Jill has Honey just how she wants her, yet finds herself being slowly alienated from Jill as she becomes more obsessed with Honey than her underlings. What makes this episode interesting is how much it delves into Tarantula’s psyche, and rather than hinting at how she’s feeling from short scenes, it follows Tarantula for a good portion of the episode and sheds light on why it’s heart-breaking from her perspective to see Jill’s investment shift less towards her underlings in favor of Honey.
The episode also tackles Natsuko’s conflicting thoughts about being able to truly help Honey. She’s devoted to Honey and her safety, but finds that there is so much that threatens Honey’s life that she feels helpless in her attempts to save Honey from the danger that surrounds her. Natsuko is torn up about not being able to do anything for her, and Honey’s ambivalence towards danger isn’t doing her emotional state any favors. While Natsuko wears her emotions on her sleeve and is immediately suspicious about Genet, Honey is willingly ignorant to the threats in her direction, and while she constantly faces the threat of destruction on a regular basis, she suppresses her emotions with weapons-grade optimism. Honey is more apt to just bite her lip and pretend everything is fine even if she’s seconds from a downward spiral from all of the strain combat puts on her. But in the process, Natsuko is going through her own personal oblivion as she is unable to reach to Honey as she is uncommunicative, unresponsive when what she says bothers her, or follows up Natsuko’s words with more cheery platitudes that go against how she’s really feeling. Because Honey isn’t going to budge about sharing her feelings with Natsuko, she has to take it upon herself to try to find the answers she’s looking for, but without Honey or the Hayami’s acting as bodyguards, she faces a most certain doom chasing after the Panther Claw and finding out the truth behind Genet. Only Honey and hope can save Natsuko at this point, but the show is likely to make Honey ignoring the situation and keeping blind faith in Genet be the downfall she’s headed towards.