「イケスカの決闘」 (Ikesuka no kettou)
“Duel in Ikesuka”
Passion. Impulsiveness. Charisma.
Given recent developments, there couldn’t be a better encapsulation of Isao’s character than the Red Oni of folklore. Everything he does appears to be based on a selfish whim, up to and including saving Reona’s life. Personally, I was hoping for a little more depth from him than a power-hungry manchild, and for a moment, I even dared to believe that all the faith I’d placed in him had been rewarded. Like Reona, I was thrilled when he agreed to allow the Hagoromo and their allies to retreat. Even if it were just another whim on his part, it would have vindicated Reona’s trust and supported Kirie’s doubts about whether or not a war with Ikesuka was necessary.
The Kotobuki Corp wasn’t created to fight wars. It was created to help people, so Kirie’s hesitance in this episode was understandable. Unfortunately, even before learning that Isao had struck a little too close to home for her to forgive, the sequences of destruction undercutting his words of peace at the very beginning of the episode already made it clear that he was not only a hypocrite, but fully cognizant of the damage his quest for the Yufang portals is leaving in its wake. In addition, unprovoked acts of aggression tend to be seen as justifiable cause for declarations of war, so I can’t exactly fault Madame Loulou for getting involved in what should have been a decisive strike on Ikesuka, had Isao not been anticipating it.
Putting matters of right and wrong aside, Isao was undeniably the linchpin of this episode, and perhaps even of the whole series. Not only are his exaggerated facial expressions and ridiculous, over-the-top antics a joy to watch, it turns out that he’s inextricably tied to the lives of a good chunk of the Kotobuki girls, and with any luck, next episode will see Kate taking his Royal Smugness down a few pegs. I’m still not convinced that Isao didn’t come through a portal, especially since he seems to know so much about Ol’ Sab and the Yufang, but since he’s taking so much pleasure in playing the villain, it’ll be satisfying to see him get some comeuppance.