After masquerading as Benten to comfort Professor Akadama, Yasaburou hangs out at a pool hall, with her mother, who takes the form of a flamboyant “prince”. He then checks on his brother Yajirou, who is stuck in the form of a frog and lives in the bottom of a well. He goes to the power plant to pick up Yashirou as a storm brews, and the two are cornered by the Ebisugawa twins, but Yachirou rescues them. They then search for their mother, who reverts to a tanuki in storms, finding her under a bridge with the twins’ sister Keisei. Back home, she waxes about how lucky she is to have such nice sons.
Japan knows a few things about adapting to change. For centuries, they stood alone and isolated, either warring among themselves to being ruled by divine emperors. Even today, they still have an emperor from an unbroken line, but like the Queen of England, at the end of the day, he’s a figurehead. It’s a modern democracy now. He’s just not the boss of everyone anymore. It’s the same with the Shimogamos. When the patriarch Soichirou died, his widow and sons weren’t able to carry on his legacy and the united tanuki society he spent his life building fell into disarray. Only the eldest, Yachirou, seems dedicated to keeping the flames burning, but he’s also just a figurehead, and not the most respected one at that. Yachriou probably looks at the lives of his brothers with disdain because they represent a future (or possibly even a present) where Shimogamo is…just another name.
Rather than stubbornly stand against the winds of change, they let the change flow around them and adapted; it’s what raccoons do; tanukis too (probably). Their mother did the same. They still have their abilities and their name and their house and all the honor that entails, but they don’t live and die by that honor anymore; they live for themselves. Yajirou (the frog) believes Yasaburou was their father’s favorite, and it could’ve been for all the same reasons Yachirou believes he is shaming the family name. The Shimogamos may never rule over tanuki society again, but it’s enough to keep looking out for one another and live happy, full lives. Yasaburou and his mom seem to understand this intrinsically, while Yachirou is either unwilling or unable to let go of the past. His mom may be known as the “Prince”, but he’s the one still playing royal House.
Rating: 8 (Great)
- Looks like Benten doesn’t have a soft spot after all; it was just Yasaburou pretending to be her. You got us, show!
- The Ebisugawa twins were thoroughly unpleasant, weren’t they? Kudos to Yachirou for dealing with them.
- Talk about going off the reservation; by becoming a frog, it’s as if Yajirou is living some kind of pared-down monastic existence as a simpler form of life. No one can say the brothers aren’t a diverse bunch!
- Apparently, the brothers’ dad was killed and boiled in a hot pot, and Benten may have had something to do with it. Yikes!
- We got the impression storms make their mother revert to her tanuki form, thus rendering her vulnerable to the same fate as her husband. We may be wrong on that, but it explains why her sons worried about her so much.
- Those twins may be shits, but their sister – who appears as nothing but a twinkling light, Doonesbury-style, is apparently much nicer.
Staz and Fuyumi use the black curtain and enter the human world through Fuyumi’s spartan room. Her father is upset about her absence, but Staz sprays him and all other humans they encounter with his saliva to make them think nothing of it. This upsets Fuyumi, but Staz wants to keep the world as normal as possible if he’s to bring her back to life. She starts to disappear, and he gives her some of his blood to restore her; it ends up overwhelming her.
Wanting to rest up for Akiba tomorrow, Staz returns to the curtain with Fuyumi and finds its owner there, the treasure hunter Bell Hydra, who specializes in spatial magic. She takes Fuyumi hostage and makes Staz run an errand for her involving taking underwear from an underground ONIQLO demon store, but it was just a test of his power. Learning of Fuyumi’s plight, Bell tells them about a book that could save her – but it’s in Staz’s rival Wolf‘s territory.
Whatever Yanagi Fuyumi lacks in personality, initiative or resourcefulness, the plucky tricksteress Bell Hydra makes up for it. She’s an opportunistic, independent young lady making her own way in the world (well, between them) and not doing too bad for herself. While her might abilities smack of parlor tricks, we wouldn’t want her as opponent, as she can be quite dangerous when she wants to be (she also has a gun). Her spatial magic would likely drive us up the wall on the way to defeating us. We also dig her character design, massive backpack and all.
Turns out she’s neither good nor evil, but merely deems the route of helping Staz and Fuyumi to be ultimately more profitable than selling the knowledge that Staz has abandoned his post to his rivals. About those rivals: next week we’ll meet the first one who isn’t just some random interloper. Until then, Staz and Fuyumi have a lead in their quest to resurrect her, and even when being sent on a wild goose chase to fight a guy for underpants, Staz shows he’s not one to be messed with.
Rating:7 (Very Good)
Hanekawa showers with Senjougahara, who shares her futon with her for the night. In the middle of the night she transforms into the sawari neko “Black Hanekawa”, the incarnation of her mistress’s stress and fatigue. She warns the tiger not to harm her mistress, but as Hanekawa has already seen him, he’s already “started to act.” When Black Hanekawa sneaks home, Senjougahara is awake and they formally meet. The next morning the normal Hanekawa is back and prepares a breakfast that is very telling of her personality. Senjougahara asks her if she truly still loves Araragi.
Recent woes like the burning down of her house and the arrival of the tiger oddity have triggered the reawakening of Black Hanekawa, an oddity that is not so much a possession as an alter-ego. When others, including Senjougahara and Araragi, endure hardship, they maintain their fundamental selves. Hanekawa utterly changes hers, and yet her Black side is no less “her” than the side we normally see (as the first Nekomonogatari showed). Theirs would be a symbiotic relationship, if they were actually separate beings, but there’s technically just one: Hanekawa. Confused? C’mon, it’s not that complicated!
Critiquing the breakfast Hanekawa makes for her, Senjougahara remarks that Hanekawa is the “polar opposite of a picky eater”, whose preferences can’t be called “tastes” because taste is irrelevant as long as the food is edible and nutritious. Going into therapist mode, she uses the breakfast as an example of Hanekawa’s tendency to accept anything and everything that comes her way, loving everything and detesting nothing with her massive heart. But Senjougahara is far pickier in all things, loving some and detesting others, generating a complex and distinct archive of tastes.
She feels those specific tastes drew her to Araragi, but she harbors doubt about Hanekawa feeling the same way. After all, how can Hanekawa still love or have ever loved Araragi, when she loves anything and everything? For all of her hospitality, fooling around in the shower (what was that all about?) and sharing her bed and being cool with her catty alter-ego, Senjougahara remains threatened by Hanekawa’s inscrutable form of love, and bringing her in was an opportunity to size her up fully, both to try to better understand her and, in so many words, dissuade her from the notion of loving Araragi.
Rating:7 (Very Good)