「寶月詠子」 (Houzuki Eiko)
Dark Gathering’s latest episode has Keitaro going back to school as he gets better adjusted to the real world once again. But the joy he got from being able to lead a normal life again is short-lived as more cursed spirits have it out for him, including a particularly nasty spirit in a video tape.
PUT YOUR LIGHTERS UP
Keitaro never catching a break is be a common occurrence in this show, but sadly for him, school is no different as he’s cursed almost immediately by a snuff film left behind by the supernatural club. It’s pretty shocking to see how brutal this show gets considering how it plays the entire video where a man slowly gives himself the push to douse himself in gasoline and light himself on fire.
To make things even more intense, the backstory of the video was pretty frightening as the tape was created by a victim of bullying who aimed to weaponize the video to kill his bully. But through pure spite, the bully aimed to kill more people with the videotape, inspiring a freaky scene where Keitaro slowly saw himself in the film happily roasting himself alive.
It’s very grisly to watch the video, but I enjoyed how insane Yayoi’s solution was. Where Keitaro had to wrap his clothes around his arm and dangle himself outside a window to avoid catching fire while the spirit watched his own curse tape. It shows the kind of ingenuity the show can work with when it comes to making sense of its malicious spirits.
IS THIS MY FREE WILL OR YOURS?
But the big jaw-dropping moment of this episode wasn’t anything involving the dead; it was Eiko and her motivations. Eiko had already motivated Keitaro to look after her, and the personal responsibility he feels for Eiko getting cursed as well keeps their connection tight. But Eiko’s personal feelings towards Keitaro’s attachment to her and personal investment in her well-being are not the noblest.
It was nuts to see Eiko see Keitaro’s selflessness as the perfect opportunity to both take him to haunted grounds and make him further invested in her safety. In her own way, Keitaro’s protectiveness makes her feel loved, feeding into the obsession that would only get worse when we as the viewers see her personal Keitaro shrine. But to feel loved, she needs to frighten Keitaro and risk her own safety so that he can always show up as her knight in shining armor day after day after day.
The scene itself was hair-raising as well with the scene descending further and further into madness as Eiko glares at her Keitaro mural and whips out her dull eyes and Cheshire grin about keeping Keitaro wrapped around her fingers. Hanazawa Kana captures both the innocent naivety and the skin-crawling conviction in Eiko’s words. Although their co-dependency is more toxic than it needs to be considering Keitaro’s budding interest in Eiko, his investment in her safety is the fuel that rages the burning fire of her passion.