Koto returns safely to the Mirrored City with her mother Lady Koto in tow. After a reunion and tour of the city, Lady Koto says it’s time for her to go back, surprising everyone. She tells Koto to help her older brother Myoue, but later that night a distraught Koto breaks down in Myoue’s room. Meanwhile, a portal opens in Kurama’s temple, and Koto’s first “sensei” Inari emerges. He arrives at Myoue’s house and removed his mask revealing himself as the original Myoue, Yakushimaru’s adoptive father. As a result of his entrance, the Mirrored City starts to disintigrate.
For something as momentous as Myoue, Yase, Kurama and Koto’s mother returning after who knows how many years away, her return is surprisingly low-key. Koto and Yase are the ones most outwardly excited, but Myoue and Kurama are more reserved. She’s glad everyone is all right, is pleased with what they’ve done with the place, and asks forgiveness for being gone so long. But she doesn’t solve everyone’s problems; in fact, she creates totally new ones. The original Myoue must’ve sensed her arrival and came back himself, causing serious damage to the drawing in the real world and thus the Mirrored City.
So what, is he the bad guy all of a sudden? Is he improvising, or was this all part of his original plan? Did he even have a plan? Is the city toast? There are just three more episodes to answer those pressing questions, but for now, despite the foreboding tone of the ending, we’ll be cautiously optimistic. After all, the family is finally back together; how could that be bad? Also of note this week: Koto finally protesting being constantly used and asked to do things when nobody is willing to give her any answers about her past. With her sensei back in the picture, that might change.
Rating: 9 (Superior)
Kaiki agrees to do the job for ¥100,000 and travels to Naoetsu to begin his investigation, starting at Nadeko’s home. Her parents answer his questions and let him examine Nadeko’s room, but won’t let him into a closet she told them not to open. He then visits the Shrine and deposits a ¥10,000 offering, and a grateful Nadeko to burst out to greet and thank him. She cheerfully confirms her eventually intention to kill Koyomi, Shinobu, and Senjougahara, and calls Kaiki her “first adherent.” Kaiki plays along and hands her a cat’s cradle, offering to come back periodically to teach her different patterns.
In retrospect, we really liked how this arc started out so simply, taking its time with the conversation between Kaiki and Senjougahara at Okinawa airport that gets things going. From Kaiki refusing Senjougahara’s offer to sell her body to make up the difference in his fee, Senjougahara coyly asking if she can borrow plane fare home from the cash she just paid Kaiki, the funny drawings in his notebook, and his plane’s emphatic touchdown on the snowy tarmac; many details lend the start of his mission a sense of solemn occasion, and with good reason: this is for all the marbles. If he fails, most of the show’s cast is toast. Therefore every stage of his involvement in this arc is treated with deft care and contemplation. He’s Kaiki Deishu—He solves problems.
That being said Kaiki plays more the role of a detective than a cleaner, utilizing his effortless powers of deception to gather intel on the target. We’re privy to what he thinks in response to what he sees and hears around him, as is typical of the spotlight character in a Monogatari arc. Perhaps feeling the weight of his responsibility in spite of himself, he visits Nadeko almost right away, against his better judgement, to find someone who is every bit the cute airhead everyone believed her to be as a human. Only now she has creepy snakes for hair and talks about all the good times she had with Koyomi and promises to kill the shit out of him in the same breath. Kaiki gives her a cat’s cradle as he intends to build one of deception around her. But deceiving a god—even a young, spoiled, deluded one—will be no mean feat.
Rating: 9 (Superior)
January: Touma practices for her recital, skipping school and ignoring Haruki’s calls, as Haruki and Setsuna grow closer together. The day of the recital arrives, and Touma sees Haruki and Setsuna together. Afterwards, she doesn’t place and does receive any recommendations, but is glad Setsuna was moved. Haruki asks her to join them for Setsuna’s birthday on February 14th. He later changes his mind and wants to be alone with Setsuna, but she wants everyone there. Still, she invites only Touma and Haruki. On her birthday, she receives a bouquet from Touma. Haruki goes to Touma’s house to find that she’s flown the coop.
After what must have been an extremely fun hot spring trip, Haruki is spending his final semester of school like you’d expect: waiting for graduation while spending as much of his time with Setsuna. It’s getting pretty serious, and he’s even forward enough to suggest to Setsuna that they spend her birthday—also Valentine’s Day, conveniently—alone, knowing full well what that could entail. But guilt gnaws at both of them, and despite Touma’s blessing, she’s not doing a great job of hiding her contempt for the present situation. On the contrary, her efforts to assure Haruki she doesn’t feel a thing only makes him more suspicious. Setsuna waves off Haruki’s suggestion they take things to the next level, but that’s just a cover for giving Touma one last chance to speak now or forever hold her peace.
Setsuna loves Haruki, but she can’t ignore that Touma may love him too, and she was technically first in his life. She’s not being altogether fair to herself, but she loves Touma too, and doesn’t want to hurt her. When Haruki changes course for Touma’s after remembering their embrace and her face on the train platform, it’s more evidence that while he has Setsuna, and should by all rights thank his god what a lucky bastard he is, within him a glimmer of doubt remains. But it won’t be assuaged easily, as Touma is out of reach at the worst possible time for him. Maybe he’s not so lucky after all. Maybe a luckier man would only have one woman to choose from, and wouldn’t have to worry about whether he made the right choice or hurting the one he rejected.
Rating: 8 (Great)