Hyakka Ryouran 10

So we were left at last week’s end with everybody imprisoned; well, we can’t keep everyone imprisoned forever, now can we? An impassioned plea by Sanada for a report on Muneakira’s safety impresses D’Atagnan (Nia) to the point she doesn’t immediately execute her and the others, but rather leaves them alone with lowly guards while she goes off to do…what, exactly?

No matter, Yukimura, Matabei, Hanzo, and Kanetsugu escape to a hide-out, and Yukimura locates Muneakira – and Sen – with her mind; it seems master samurai can locate their general thus. While they race to free Muneakira’s body from Yoshihiko and mind from Gisen, Yoshihiko basically just sits around laughing like there’s no problem.

But the last laugh’s on him, as when his lab is infiltrated, Nia turns on him. She does so because she admires Sanada and the others’ passionate commitment to Muneakira. Their devotion is out of feelings (love specifically), not merely fear or submission. It’s great to see Nia thinking for herself. With everyone freed, now there’s just the matter of dealing with Yoshihiko. More boisterous speeches will follow, I’m sure. Rating: 3

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Otome Youkai Zakuro 10

While attending a festival in a human-friendly district, Agemaki ends up alone with Zakuro and confesses to her (pretty much). Surprised by his words, she runs off…and is instantly spirited away to the village of oracles. It is here where half-spirits are born and, like Byakuroku and Daidai, live oppressed lives as mere “tools” for the villagers.

Hanadate (or Omodaka, revealed as the main antagonist) had her brought here so that he could “join with her”, as two accursed spirits with the “same dark blood.” In other words, he wants her to birth his child. Considering they’re of the same blood, that’s obviously creepy. But it’s another example of half-spirits-as-tools, in this case, a tool for making a powerful progeny.

So Agemaki and the others need to rescue her before something very bad happens, and likely free all the trod-upon half-spirits in the village before she’ll let them rescue her. The only problem is, the village “hovers outside reality,” which I imagine is a place hard for humans to reach, if not impossible. Finally, it’s in captivity, when Omodaka tries to kiss Zakuro, that she realizes where her true affections lie. Perhaps this ordeal will convince her to be honest with herself. Rating: 3.5

Arakawa Under the Bridge x 2 9

The ninth week of Arakawa 2 begins with a mysterious letter for Whitey. When he goes to deliver it, Ric finds Shimazaki with him, and has the first of many misinterpretations of what’s going on in front of him. The letter isn’t divorce papers, but a entry form for an Autralian line-drawing contest; Whitey isn’t hitting on Shimazaki, he just wants to be doubles partners; et cetera. Ric always presumes the worst before learning the whole story, and his reactions are hilarious.

The second segment was a little harder to follow, but regardless of the esoteric way-of-tea and wabisabi parody, I understood the gist of what was being lampooned, which is stodgy traditions in general are kept pure by keeping out noobs. In this case, P-Ko’s western tea party totally turns off Mayor and Last Samurai, who set up their own tea ceremony outside under a cherry tree.

Ric and Hoshi follow them, eager to impress, but they’re looked down upon for their ignorance and berated for their naive submissiveness and failure to create results. As such, the peaceful atmosphere usually associated with a tea ceremony is replaced by an atmosphere of fear, loathing, and general negativity, which is awesome. Unfortunately no Billy this week, but at this point it doesn’t really matter which combination of characters is featured any particular week – it’s sure to result in hearty laughs. Rating: 3.5