Having grown incredibly corpulent as a result of an alteration by the myriad gods, Sasami seals herself in an Ama-no-Iwato (heavenly rock cave). Kamiomi, Kagami, and Tama attempt to penetrate it to see what’s eating her, but she deflects them with a barrage of weaponry. Tsurugi returns from Yomi by using the Ame-no-Murakumo, and sends Sasami into the past. In this time, Sasami witnesses her mother fight for a better world to pass on to her, while she goofs off downtown and contracts an illness that turns out to be possession by Tamamo-no-Mae ( a nine-tailed fox), who attacks her mother with a sessho-seki (killing stone golem) and is aware of the preent-day Sasami’s presence.
We’re almost embarrassed to note that most of our knowledge of Japanese mythology is coming from this series as we watch it, so we have no idea how faithfully they’re portraying it. Our gross ignorance aside, we greatly enjoyed this episode, in which Sasami is the victim of an alteration rather than the lucky recipient, has her barrier besieged by her brother and the Yagami sisters, and is sent to the past by Tsurugi to resolve it. We thought we’d seen the last of her mother Juju-sama after her defeat last week, but she returns here in her prime, as a woman torn between being a dutiful shrine maiden and a loving, caring mother. She cannot be both, but she still tries.
Seeing her mom in this time, still alive and non-evil, working so hard to make the world a better place for her, Sasami can’t help but feel guilt for what she amounted to. She sees what she did – casting away her duty as her mother’s relief – as a betrayal, and she doesn’t feel great about it. But at the same time, her mother longed to be the normal human mother Sasami wanted her to be. This week we’re also introduced to Micchan, a girl who has been spirited away and forgotten her name and family (she’s even dressed kinda like Chihiro!), who feels she and Sasami are both insecure by the superior capability and excellence around them. And as we know, Sasami ultimately gave up.
Rating: 8 (Great)
Maid Ane prepares to act the part of the Crimson Scholar. The plan is for the Winter King to deliver her into the custody of the messenger sent by the Central church who claim Maou to be a heretic. As she is paraded out, placed in stocks, and whipped, Yuusha is poised to save her, but she deviates from the set plan and delivers a speech to the masses assembled before her, drawing from what she’s learned from the Head Maid, about not being an insect. She moves the crowd to turn against the messenger, and even inspires the Winter King to place her under his protection, and orders the Centrals to skedaddle.
What we thought would be an action-packed rescue mission in which the hero saves Ane from a public stoning in the knick of time, turned out to be something more akin of a one woman play – and that’s totally okay with us. As Ane was shoved around in stocks and whipped until her back is raw and bleeding, something awakensin her, and she decides to improvise a passionate, rousing, incredibly powerful speech to the people the church want to stone her, and it’s the church officials who end up getting stoned. So Yuusha doesn’t have to lift a finger (though it was nice to have him there just in case things went sour.)
When the head maid called Ane and her sister insects, it was cruel, but it was also true. Though they were serfs – two of seven siblings, the rest of whom were raped or killed or died of disease – they were also humans, and had the ability to choose their fate. They could choose to fall in line and obey whatever master or noble or priest came along, or they could choose to become better than they were. Ane and her sister gained the awareness of that choice and made themselves better. And now the serf, who was so close to death when she first met Maou, has found her voice, and as Yuusha puts it, her words have the power to cause entire armies to withdraw.
Rating: 9 (Superior)
Akane is admitted to the hospital in serious condition. The Alone attaches itself to the Tokyo Sky Tree and builds a cocoon around itself to regenerate. With Akane out of action, docking is not possible, so conventional military tactics need to be considered. However, Aoi, Wakaba and Hiwamari decide to have a go at the alone anyway, destroying it in a way that won’t destroy the city. Their plan nearly works, but Rei shoots an arrow at the alone and it hatches. Aoi borrows some of Akane’s power to dodge the alone’s attacks and defeat it. They then visit Akane, who is on the mend.
This is an interesting dynamic: after a string of victories so easy they didn’t even bother showing one of them, the most powerful Alone yet appears and Akane is quickly taken out of the picture. The military has a plan (with just a 4% chance of success), but it will destroy most of the (evacuated) 23 wards in the process. Not ideal, but if they do nothing, the Incarnate system will go kaput (a lesson in why global power should never be so centralized). So Aoi, Wakaba, and Himawari meet up before dawn, get don their pallet suits, and report for duty. Whatevs, they’ll simply fight a girl down.
Yet even with Akane laid up in hospital, a part of her remains by their side: the love and memories they harbor for her, along with her boomerang, which never de-materialized after her clobbering. Aoi believes a part of her soul is in it, and wisely brings it along for the fight. That choice proves decisive, as it is re-purposed as rocket-powered wings she uses to finish the job the other two girls started, saving them and Tokyo in the process. The only major casualty is the Sky Tree. Poor Sky Tree! Oh, and a bit more of Kuroki Rei’s sanity.
Rating: 7 (Very Good)