「機密事項七〇一コシカタユクスエ」 (Kimitsu Jikō Nana Maru Ichi Koshikata Yukusue)
“Confidential File 701, Past and Future”
We are finally getting to see more of the social unrest happening in response to the shogun’s iron fist. Unrest which is amplified by power outages caused by dragon’s vein shortages (Ryumyaku). This dragon’s vein is central to the power politics of this alternate Japan, but they haven’t really talked yet about how it is made. Is this the same stuff that Janome was experimenting with or is this a natural resource?
If this power source is the result of something Janome was working on, it would make sense that it is running dry with the researcher no longer alive. It would also explain the urgency for the government to get their hands on Sawa, who would be a “pure” source for this energy. If they can stabilize their power by bringing back the in-demand power source in its strongest form, then they will take every unethical action they can to do so. If the dragon’s vein is a natural resource, then there must not have been much of it to begin with if it is already running out.
It was a poignant pairing of Hanakaze in her birth pangs to birth her child occurring side by side with this alternate Japan in its birth pangs of riots overturning old order to give birth to a new Japan. Another mother-child connection was formed-that of one between Sawa and Asahi when they agree to teach each other what it means to be a parent and a child.
Hanakaze remarked that Sawa takes things too seriously-perfectly exemplified when Sawa’s first reaction to Hanakaze’s birth pangs is to search the shelves for an obstetric book. One thing most children know how to do better than adults is to laugh and play. Asahi would be the perfect teacher, then, to show Sawa how to relax and enjoy life more. She has already had a huge impact on Sawa in motivating her to not use her sword to kill others. A lesson which Sawa notably followed in her fight with Rinko, using her hands instead of her sword and leaving Rinko alive.
Asahi is Sawa’s tomorrow-giving her hope and a chance at a future she will enjoy living. Asahi’s name is also connected to tomorrow, because it is pronounced the same as the Japanese word for morning sun, but is spelled using different characters. While it is good for Sawa that Asahi and Hanakaze are alive, it is not so good for the writing. I see it as a weaker, more simplistic story if characters somehow always make an impossible escape from death so that in the end everyone but the baddies live.
Rinko forced her body through the physically excruciating fight because serving Nue was the only way she knew how to survive. Now that Sawa has spared her life, Rinko can’t go back to Nue, as I don’t see them being very forgiving of someone who failed her job. With Nue no longer an option, Rinko could look to Sawa for inspiration for finding the way to live life the way she wants rather than allow herself to be manipulated by others. If Rinko breaks free, this would make Sawa part of a beautiful cycle of freedom in which she was freed by Asahi, to then free Rinko, who may in time free someone else from despair.