「つながりたいけど, 裏切りたい」 (Tsunagaritai kedo, Uragiritai)
“I Want to Connect, but I Want to Betray”
With Kazuki back to how he used to be after saving Haruka and returning to his human form, things are looking to shape up with our three boys and Keppei. Or so you think! This episode of Sarazanmai works to shift back into the other characters that surround Kazuki as Enta finds himself conflicted on whether to feel threatened by Kuji getting more of his crush’s attention. At the same time, we get a deeper insight into why Reo has been concerned and distraught about Mabu’s condition.
It was a nice change of pace for Kazuki’s current struggles to be currently resolved because it opens the window for other characters to get attention. A major component of Enta’s motivations to help Kazuki have been to get him to cheer up again so that he would be excited about the prospect of sharing his time with Enta more. However, Enta didn’t account for the possibility that Kazuki’s happiness wouldn’t guarantee that he wouldn’t try to incorporate Kuji into their friend circle and tend to him far more. Despite Enta’s previous decision to prioritize Kazuki’s happiness over his affection, it still leaves a sour taste for Enta to have to share him with Kuji and use the dishes to keep him in the picture. This means having to unearth Enta’s dirty secret of being the person who repeatedly vandalized his soccer hangout so that he can continue cleaning it with Kazuki, snapped Keppei’s cucumbers, and stole all the dishes. It will be interesting to see what lasting consequences that knowing all of this information could have on Enta considering the lengths he went to obscure the dishes that Kazuki had already promised specifically for Kuji’s wish. With many of Enta and Kuji’s conflicts left up in the air, to see how the next few episodes will tackle all of this, especially with how Enta has all of the remaining dishes in his possession, will be fascinating to see unfold. Are there underlying consequences to what Enta just did with how his friends will treat him? What will Kuji do now that his brother has put him in a situation where he has to leave? What would happen if the dishes were combined to grant a wish. Given the Mephistopheles or Calypso direction that many wish-granting items tend to gravitate towards and knowing that the dishes already bungled Enta’s cucumber roll wish, there would have to be some serious consequences to restoring Haruka’s ability to walk or finding a way to make Kuji stay in Asakura. But will it be too late once the dishes are combined to make some kind of wish for Haruka, Kuji, or something out of left field? The episode ends abruptly so one can only mull about these questions until next Thursday, but it makes the wait all the more agonizing.
This episode also did the most to make sure that we understood Reo and his commitment to Mabu. After being mortally injured in his confrontation with the Kappa Kingdom, Mabu is reincarnated as a mere shell of his former self. The leader of the Otter Kingdom knows full well that he’s merely a machine that they brought back as a way of manipulating Reo into doing his bidding. Under the illusion of bringing him back to how he used to be, Reo continues to charge forward under the hope that he’ll eventually be able to get to see his true partner again. However, Reo is in despair for most of the episode as he is becoming increasingly disillusioned by what he’s doing as the present Mabu keeps on trying to replicate his old partner’s habits even though he’s only a replica. Whether this means that Reo will eventually try to go against the Otter King or if he’ll find a way to regain Mabu’s soul by doing the Otter King’s bidding should also be something to keep on the lookout for. Similarly, Keppei’s romantic relationship with Sara should definitely set some alarms for wondering how this pairing will factor into the ongoing war between kappas and otters as their conflict spills out into the human realm.