「砂の耳と新人の根性」 (Suna no Mimi to Shinjin no Konjou)
“The Ears of Sand and the Guts of a New Employee”
This episode was undoubtedly the culmination of every experience Arata has had with Anothers while working in the Nocturnal Division, yet it wasn’t just his efforts that brought about a happy end for both the humans and the Silkworm Princess. Since the beginning, I’ve been struggling to decipher what message the series is trying to convey. In fact, I’ve probably harped on it a bit too much, but after this episode, it’s pretty clear that’s we’ve been dealing with a dual message. The first being “Always Put In The Effort To Understand.” Even if it doesn’t always work out in the end, the important thing is that you try. And the second message is the common, yet nonetheless poignant message of, “You’re Not Alone.” By trying to take care of Another-related issues without his friends and coworkers as a means of striking out on his own, Arata effectively handicapped himself, because his greatest strength is bringing people together. However, he never stopped asking for their guidance, and so at the end of the day, when he needed their support, they’re there to provide it. Honestly, they always were.
Sakaki and Seo are like a microcosm of the larger world that Arata has affected. While Sakaki has his reservations and may not completely agree with Arata’s ideals, he believes in Arata and is willing to help him regardless, while Seo is slowly beginning to shift from the assumption that Another and humans can never communicate. After watching Arata laugh with tengu and bicker with an Aztec disaster god, it’d be a herculean task not to. As for the Silkworm Princess, who is very much not a Moth Queen, she very nearly became a vengeful god for what was done to her children, though she did seem a little more upset about the silk they couldn’t spin for the gods. Offering the silk is how they earn the blessing of the sun, and without the sun, the Silkworm Princess will perish in the winter. Had Arata not tackled Kanoichi and talked her down, and had Senda not pressured City Hall into giving Nocturnal Division jurisdiction over the case so they could force Kanoichi to cooperate, they never would have been able to delay her curse long enough for the Nocturnal Division and their allies to put out the fires and spin the thread.
According to the deal that was struck, they needed to be completed by dawn so the Silkworm Princess could take them to the Izumo festival, and luckily, Arata was able to put his Ears of Sand to good use by asking for the aid of Another he’s helped in the past. Not only was it a treat to see Tarobo again, his general demeanor seemed to imply that he’s taken up more of a leadership role amongst the tengu, suggesting off-screen growth. As always, though, he was kind, and through him, Arata was able to rally the angels to help, as well. There was one line that gave the impression tengu and angels might be closer to humans in their thought patterns, thus explaining why Arata can communicate with them without too many problems, but I prefer the much simpler explanation, which is that Another, like people, are different. There’s no one-size-fits-all way to deal with them, and for that reason, Arata has decided on a path that would be as challenging as it is rewarding. No longer content to be Seimei’s descendant, he instead wants to carve his own name in the world of Anothers, to be a bridge between their kind and humans. It’s a lofty goal, but so long as he has friends and allies on his side, it’s not out of his reach. Also, Kohaku’s on his side, for whatever that’s worth. That is one Aztec god who understands fashion.
Seeing where this show has ended up, I find myself appreciating the series more as a whole. Every time Arata backed down or faltered was leading up to this moment when he finally stood up for what he believed in, and dealing with Another, whether they be innocent or dangerous, has made him uniquely equipped to negotiate with them now. Like Kanoichi said, his peaceful tactics may not always work in the future, but where Kanoichi stood alone, Arata stands with humans and Another alike, so even if he makes a mistake or fails it probably won’t be the end of the world.