「つながりたいけど, 許されない」 (Tsunagaritai kedo, Yurusarenai)
“I Want to Connect, but I Can’t Be Forgiven”
After leaving Kazuki on a less sympathetic note in the last cliffhanger for resenting his younger brother, this episode gives us more background on why Kazuki’s feelings for Haruka are far more complicated. With Kazuki’s knowledge of having a different biological mother weighing down on him, it becomes difficult for him to feel disassociated with his current family. On top of this, the responsibility that he feels for indirectly causing Haruka’s disability ends up further creating chaos in Kazuki’s mind as he continues to let it consume his life.
For starters, many of Kazuki’s reckless decisions throughout the series have been attributed in this episode to the self-loathing that Kazuki has for Haruka getting hit by Truck-kun leading him to sabotage himself as a person. Misdeeds like stealing a cat or creating a lie by leading Haruka to believe he’s the real Sara to build a relationship with his little brother through his favorite idol were done directly for Kazuki to continue to punish himself, especially as each decision blows up in his face. This becomes a double-edged sword when he’s revealed in front of Sara’s friends and his family to be an imposter, exposing that he’s been dressing up as Sara to lie to his little brother and his family about Sara’s personal connection with Haruka. Kazuki had been fine with looking terrible and punishing himself through self-imposed repentance like quitting soccer, but the fact that he ended up punishing Haruka upon being exposed was the breaking point that sent him into further self-loathing for not only his little brother crossing the street, but hurting him by faking his bond with Sara.
Much of the guilt is also linked to Kazuki’s family situation as he finds himself disconnected with his family after finding out his biological mother is a different woman. Upon finding out this information from his grandfather’s deathbed, he quickly felt himself feeling like a stranger as he questioned who he really was in relation to his family. Briefly before Haruka’s accident, Kazuki reunited with his biological mother, who also has a family of her own, but, despite feeling his biological mother’s warmth when they remet, he ultimately wanted to side with his new family now that he’s built a far closer relationship with Haruka since then. But when he rushes to see his mother off without Haruka knowing who it is and keeping their reunion a secret, Haruka follows him too quickly, leading him to get hit by a truck and lose his inability to walk in the process. As a result, he feels being with his new family as an obligation to fulfill the self-imposed torture on himself to be treated like family and treated like it wasn’t his fault when he feels responsible for not watching Haruka enough to prevent him from getting hit.
The guilt that Kazuki brings with him ends up ejecting them far too early from the kappa zombie, bringing them to both fail to extract the shirikodama and to be punished by being trapped in their kappa bodies. This conflict helps to bring the plot back into focusing on the underlying themes behind why the kappa go after the zombies, how the zombies are constructed through the otter-esque forces, and the roles that Reo and Mabu have in creating the zombies. These two in particular end up hitting a strange crossroads as constructing the one zombie that was able to withstand a kappa attack creates a rift between the two. With how detached Mabu is towards his personal feelings like Reo is, it’s bound to create further development between these two as they contend with life now that they made a zombie that survived at the end of the day.