With only hours until the deadline for Villagiulio’s ultimatum, Madoka and Lan take their Voxes into the upper atmosphere, where they come up against a massive swarm of Ovids. The two hold their own thanks to a sword and rifle launched for them. Muginami takes her Vox to intervene in the battle, but Villagiulio nearly kills her with a powerful weapon that makes impact with the ocean not far from Novumundus HQ. Muginami blocks Madoka’s attack on her brother, and she lashes out at her, inadvertently triggering the “blossoming of Rin-ne”, a shower of glowing flowers that sends all three Voxes crashing into the sea.
After Villagiulio discarded his sister, there’s really only one course of action from Madoka’s point of view: revenge. Interestingly, it’s Muginami who steps in and says it’s not that simple. Madoka thinks she’s doing her a favor, but Muginami clearly isn’t ready to turn the page to the extent she’ll let Madoka hurt Villagiulio. Villagiulio isn’t as charitable, and his attempt to kill his sister is one of the more harrowing moments of the episode. Now we’re wondering what the deal is with this “blossoming of Rin-ne.”
The show’s alternate title is “flower declaraction of your heart”, which didn’t make much sense on the surface until now, when Muginami makes a declaration from her heart (she thinks Madoka is acting for her own selfish reasons) and it results in a very odd and unexpected explosion of flowers from Madoka’s Vox. Both Moid and Villagiulio couldn’t be happier with this development, with the latter even insinuating this was his plan all along. If it was, that required an awful lot of accurate predicting of Muginami’s behavior.
Adventures in shaved dry ice, filthy pools, losing sight and sound, friends’ Japanese-style houses, being ditched in a park, typhoon-strength winds, Teru Teru Bouzu chains that resemble Ryujin, blackouts, and broken umbrellas.
Sonya is a normally very cautious and on-edge person, and Yasuna is only making it worse with her constant pranks or threats thereof. She doesn’t always mean to play pranks on Sonya, but she mixes enough attempts into her normal flights of whimsy to justify Sonya’s vigilance. If Yasuna doesn’t want her unconscious person left in the park, or smacked, she needs to avoid approaching an assassin from behind, and not set her up to put vegetable juice in her snow cone.
Agiri continues her role as prop comic with a ninja house of fairly pedestrian secrets, as well as a rocket that “makes it snow.” When Sonya enters a 7-Eleven, the series misses an opportunity to have her arrested, which could lead to and expose of her history as an assassin. Alas, her transgression was shrugged off without consequence.
The good news: a revised Tanto passed muster and will be serialized, so Mashiro has a Christmas present for Miho and Takagi and Kaya can now move forward with their marriage plans. The bad: Akina Aiko and Niizuma’s manga +Natural is also serialized, and will be published the week before Tanto, putting Takagi in direct competition with Iwase. Fukuda gathers everyone together to talk with Niizuma. This includes Iwase, who has no intention for sharing her opinions with other authors. Niizuma dismisses everyone’s concerns as whining, and they should focus on making manga that’s better than his.
Bakuman finally gives Ashirogi Muto something to celebrate, only to sour their jubilation with the knowledge that not only is Iwase, at this point THE WORST HUMAN BEING IN THE WORLD, will be competing with their manga, but Niizuma has heartily agreed to lend his all-but-unbeatable art to her story. It’s a tough pill to swallow, especially when Iwase does her best to live up to her all-caps title by subtly taunting Takagi. This girl is seriously messed up, and in this case I think Niizuma is being a little too simple-minded by working with her on a whim. Yeah, we know he likes to draw, but enabling a budding psychopath is a bridge too far.We can only hope Iwase won’t turn dangerous if things don’t go her way. For his part, Takagi warns her nothing she can do will change his and Kaya’s plans.
Beyond all that unpleasantness, it was good to see the whole gang (save Nakai) back together, thanks to Fukuda of course. Niizuma’s comparison to Iwase as Aoki two years ago was not only a funny observation, but also underscored how much Aoki has grown as a person and how pathetic Iwase is right now. Niizuma was on a roll this week, urging everyone to lay off him for taking on two simultaneous serializations. While we fault him for giving legitimacy to Iwase’s vendetta (which goes way beyond a friendly rivalry), we can’t fault him for this. If they don’t like it, they need to make better manga.
Araragi managed to sap away half of Karen’s illness into his own part-vampire body, and her condition improves, but only slightly. While walking to Senjougahara’s house, he meets Hachikuji, who notes his paleness and seriousness stemming from his current problems and discourages him from straying from what makes him Araragi. Senjougahara is sharpening pencils, preparing to meet with Kaiki and punish him to settle her past. Now already involved because of his sisters, Araragi insists they go together, if only to prevent Gahara from committing a crime that will get her imprisoned. Gahara agrees, if Araragi will grant a yet-to-be-disclosed request of hers. They part ways to rest up, and Shinobu appears and offers her assistance in a roundabout way. When he gets home, Karen is gone.
And so we edge ever closer to a confrontation with Kaiki, the gloomy man who has managed to inflict harm on Karen, Senjougahara, and her family, as it turns out, as she also blames him for her parents getting divorced. She rightly doubts Araragi’s strong anti-hypocrisy style involving healthy dollops of “right” will have much effect on Kaiki’s straight-up Evil, but his declaration of love and desire to protect her is too cool and manly for her to ignore, and so she won’t protest his participation. The last-minute addition of Shinobu – who cannot disobey him – should give Team Araragi a fighting chance – surely more of one than Karen, who faced Kaiki with naught but principles and moralizing – and lost.
This episode had some more clever incidental setting quirks, like Araragi chasing Hachikuji across the globe when she tells him he’s gotten boring and lost the only part of what made him interesting (the sexual harassment). Senjougahara’s sharp pencils are appropriately scary, and all the sculptures the pencils make and unmake throughout their disscussion serve as visual aids as well as Senjougahara’s power. That the episode ended with Karen going missing from her bed raises the urgency for some kind of standoff, and we’re really looking forward to finding out how exactly Araragi, his tsundere girlfriend, and a vampire will be dealing with Kaiki and saving Karen.