Araragi comes home to find Hanekawa and Tsukihi caring for Karen, who has fallen victim to some kind of malady. When he takes a bath, Shinobu appears andstarts talking. She was the one who freed him from his cuffs. According to Oshino, Karen has anoddity called the Wreathe Fire Bee, which causes intense fever and eventually death. Shinobu muses about how long Araragi might live; his vampire side may make him outlive everyone he loves. But he’ll cross that bridge when he comes to it. Curing Karen is the priority.
First of all, mad props to the production design (or the anime equivalent of such): Araragi’s house could put many an Architectural Digest cover home to shame with its avant garde, eclectic design. The bathroom in particular is simply nuts – a massive vault with church-like stained glass windows, whirlygigs, and a floor covered in a thin layer of water. Araragi’s room would make Alex DeLarge weep, with its trippy carpet and huge zeppelin model the camera actually flies through during a conversation for no reason. Seriously, who does that? Who cares; it’s awesome. Architecture aside, there’s some major game afoot: Araragi’s dear bigger little sister Karen is very ill thanks to the sting of a supernatural bee, and Kaiki may be responsible.
If that weren’t enough excitement, a very chatty Shinobu of all people appears out of the blue to counsel Araragi, in a lengthy, somewhat risqué scene. One must remember that despite her looks Shinobu is four centuries old (c0mplete with ‘haughty’, old-style manner of speaking), and not a girl at all, but a vampire, and Araragi’s shadow. While they play it as yet another girl teasing Araragi, this relationship is a lot different and deeper than all the others, even Senjougahara’s. Veteran seiyu Maaya Sakamoto adds a haunting, aloof venerability to the vampirette. We’re curious to see if and how they’ll work together, and how Karen will be saved.
As the Odette II’s practice cruise around Tau Ceti continues, Marika and Chiaki detect what they believe to be an enemy masquerading as the ghost ship Alcyon, lost more than a century ago. Marika informs the crew that she’s a candidate for the captaincy of a pirate ship, which is why the enemy is targeting them. Jenny already knows who she is, but agrees with the plan to take the fight to the ghost ship rather than ask adults for help and risk a ban on future cruises. Marika draws up the battle plan, which Dolittle approves. Only Kane and Misa know the truth: this is all an elaborate test of Marika’s skills.
Sometimes the chops required of successfully commanding a ship are naturally inhereted by one’s offspring, and that certainly seems to be the case with Marika Kato. She’s picking up on things at a strong and steady clip, impressing her pirate observers and fellow Yacht Club members alike. But the series doesn’t forget that this is still a training ship full of students, with no battle experience, so this impending battle won’t put the Odette II in mortal peril, the crew believes that’s exactly what they’ll be in, and act accordingly. This is for all the marbles: if they fail, they know they’ll risk having the Odette II taken away.
The episode is full of preparation and urgency, and we’re starting to learn a little more about some of the huge group of students. Important ones like Jenny and Lynn are touched upon, and the latter’s hacking abilities are integral to Marika’s plan. We like how ships can fool one another depending on the scan thrown at them, how basic analytical methods are used by Marika and the crew, and especially how Marika draws up both a strategy and specific tactics despite not being quite certain of the distinction between the two. This is seat-of-the-pants spacefaring; learning as she goes the conventions and pitfalls of space combat. Next week, we’ll see how she and the Odette II do against the pirates’ faux attack.