「陰と陽」 (In to You)
“Yin and Yang”
Slowly but surely, Jigokuraku may be turning into the sort of series I was hoping it would be. Not unidirectionally – there has been an element of two steps forward, one step back. But the overall evolution has been in a positive direction. We’re starting to see more dialogue and less random gore, more focus on the mechanics of the premise and less on battle shounen tournament tropes. And since the premise is a genuinely interesting one, the series is starting to unlock some of its latent potential.
What strikes me is that the story would be best served if all the surviving humans ended up working together. There’s not much traction in them pointlessly hacking away at each other while demigods are laughing at them in the background as they sip their Tan and indulge their libidos (so is that masturbation or intercourse?). The humans have a common enemy – one back home, and one here. And we’ve learned enough about the remaining ones to make them at least somewhat interesting as characters (some more than others). So put aside their differences and make an army and Jigokuraku will be better off.
We took a step in that direction with Gabimaru and Gantetsusai’s encounter. Gabimaru is the one instigating detente, though Fuchi is fully on-board from the start. At this point the most important commodity is information, which they can only trade if one side isn’t dead. Gantetsusai isn’t really a rival for Gabi anyway – he’s already seen through the pardon farce and has no interest in drinking the elixir himself. He just wants the sort of immortality that glory can provide and to fight strong enemies, and if Gabi can facilitate that, he’s useful.
Interestingly Mei has a seemingly random level-up here. As in, she appears to age three or four years and gains a rudimentary speech. When Gabimaru grills her for information, her answers focus on Tao and Tanden – the latter of which Fuchi and Gan-chan recognize as the navel as portrayed in martial arts. And we get a three-way lecture on this as Houko and Shion are expounding on the same topic (though Shion’s terminology is different). Tao, it seems, is The Force – or Nen, or Chi, or something like it. It’s the “waves” Shion perceives which allow him to “see” his world. It’s the manipulation of which that allows the Tensen to appear Godlike and immortal.
That’s a pretty standard shounen conceit but that’s fine, not much is really original in this day and age, and it has loads of narrative potential. Another angle here is the navel being the weakness of the Tensen – which Choubei seems to have figured out (and Gabimaru probably should have too, based on his ninjutsu training). Yes, the Aza brothers are alive – Choubei having fireman’s carried Touma out of the pit of flowers. The Tensen have dispatched a Doushi to scout them up – a Doushi being a middle-ranker in-between the Tensen and the Soushin. It professes a willingness to talk, but only to try and convince the pair to willingly become Tan. Choubei is obviously not biting, but in his current state seems no match for the Doushin’s power level.
Finally (I guess this ep was seriously exposition-heavy) Senta has deduced from Shinsenkyo’s hodgepodge of religious terminology and symbolism that it’s actually tied to Moro Makiya, some sort of self-appointed prophet who planned to overthrow the shogunate. As he was also one of the criminals sent to the island I’m not sure how that would have worked, exactly, but Senta’s assertion is that this is all a man-made construct and thus, one than can be deconstructed and defeated.