Roroku tells it loud and clear- something’s fishy about Yusoichi taking the talented fire-hunter’s children in. From this angle, Hinako is essentially a hostage to ensure Koushi does his job. When Koushi realizes Yusoichi is up to no good (at this point, it’s probably a safe assumption), Hinako could be made to suffer the consequences. Which lends credence to last week’s scene with Hinako as some form of foresight. Definitely a tough position to be in.
From that perspective, it was wholly unwise for Koushi to go off with a strange hunter and enter the forest, though Koushi in his naivete wouldn’t think to doubt Yusoichi’s superficial kindness. I have a feeling that Yusoichi wouldn’t be too happy were he to find out about anything that happened here.
That said, this encounter is clearly what Koushi needs to wake him up to the false reality presented to him by Yusoichi and by the capital. We’re starting to see more clearly the system of brainwashing used in the capital (though I’ve suspected it all along). What is told as the truth in the capital isn’t the truth anywhere else. Case in point, in the capital, bottled lightening is an item so taboo that Koushi and Yusoichi research it in secret and hunters there cannot use it. Yet, the roaming fire hunters casually fling it around to defeat beasts on the job. It’s symbolic, really, that Koushi’s first hunt is at night- Roroku enlightening his ignorance, much like the fire enlightening the forest.
Yusoichi even stoops to condoning torture for information, Koushi and Roroku stumbling upon his grunts’ bloody attempt to extricate intel from a lone spider. These spyders have eyes everywhere, spying on the capital through tree roots according to the hunters. The spider’s super strength is almost scary, the way he ripped himself off the tree even after losing a limb-I sure wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of his wrath. That blood spray though was hilariously impressive. I find it intriguing that we are introduced to the spiders in a trickle rather than all at once, as if teasing out the suspense.
I feel bad for poor, sheltered Koushi who not only has the wool ripped off his eyes but also has to witness that horrifying blood bath all in the same night. From his facial expression alone, you can tell this is going to leave some pretty deep scars, scars that could be the last straw in turning him against Yusoichi. I certainly wouldn’t want to be in Koushi or Roroku’s shoes-doubtless fearful retribution will follow for the spider’s loss of limbs. I’m not sure that he’s dead yet-it would seem too easy if a skyfire hunter could kill such a powerful being off so quickly. Then again, if that is the case, it would certainly explain the divine clans’ fear of sky-fire in human hands.
In what is old hat for us but news to the others, the spiders obtained an ancient fire that can be used without harming the user-i.e., the bugs Kun mentioned previously. That presents a terrifying prospect to the humans which that scene on the beach last week previewed for us. Humanity could be wiped out entirely at the hands of these fire-wielding spiders and they can’t necessarily rely on the gods to protect them if it doesn’t lie in their interests, as history showed in the first great fire. Why the bugs have that sort of power, I don’t know. It could be some sort of vaccine against fire. If so, is it just the bugs that do this or would injecting oneself with fiend blood also have the same effect?
After (metaphorically) crossing over the sea of the dead to the land of the living and encountering the psychedelic Tombwhale god who lets them pass, Touko and company make it mostly in one piece to the capital. Luckily in the nick of time for Shouzou. With the injured parties on the mend (Touko seems to be the only one physically unscathed) under the care of a kindly benefactor, all seems to be in the clear. With how restrictive the capital seems to be towards fire hunters and how little Touko knows (i.e. nothing) about capital culture, I had a sneaky feeling that Touko might run into trouble walking around with Kanata- which happens sure enough. It was inevitable that Touko and Koushi’s gang would eventually meet up, so it wasn’t a huge surprise that she ran into Kira. However, it is curious that Kira would be near Koushi’s old home of all places-not the sort of place I would expect an ojou-san to go. She’s got to be investigating something on Koushi- but for her father, or for herself?