Kamisama Hajimemashita 2 – 07

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Botanmaru’s wretched state (he passes out from the mundane world “poison” and has welts from lashings) convinces Kurama to return to his home mountain from whence he descended seventeen years ago, when he wasn’t much bigger than lil’ Botan. I like how he admits he’s far more into the mundane world scene because of all the cute girls.

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One of those cute girls insists on tagging along in case she can support Kurama. Nanami constantly referring to her damn white talismans is a nice little running gag, but it’s also a more serious sign that she’s no longer one to sit on the sidelines as friends—or even mere acquaintances—face challenges. And fixing the problem on the tengu mountain is definitely a challenge.

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Kurama didn’t just hesitate to return because there are no women on the mountain. When he says he’s a failure, he means it; and not only did he flee the mountain, but he fled after his beloved brother Suiro, who was the fastest tengu on the mountain, saved him from a cruel trial, costing his mentor his wings, which, for a tengu, are everything. The one who put Kurama thorugh that trial is now poised to succeed the dying leader.

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The mountain is also covered in thick, nasty misasma in which evil spirits lurk, one of which exploits Kurama’s weakness and takes Suiro’s form. At first I was like “Okay, this guy is kind of lame for spouting all this exposition like this” but it turns out he was an imposter. The real Suiro is much kinder, though notably cold to Nanami, sending her on a trek to the outhouse.

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The somewhat mannerless Yatori has slinked his way into Jiro’s court, which is troublesome, since we know Yatori aims to hand this mountain over to Akura-oh. As friendly as he’s being with Jiro, this guy is no ally. Jiro, all puffed-up and tough; the yang to Suiro’s yin, doesn’t see Yatori as a threat, which could prove fatal as the crisis on the mountain worsens.

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The change of setting would be refreshing if it weren’t essentially a bunch of thick green-gray fog and dead trees. The mountain is a very dreary place right now, though Nanami is hopeful she can bring some light and joy, if only to a few wary fledglings, one of whom had his orphaned boar piglet slaughtered by Jiro while cradling it in his arms.

Jiro is all about tough love and strength; he has no time for the weak or sentimental. But it’s not at all certain Jiro is the right one to ascend to leadership—especially with Yatori hanging off of him.

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Jiro is built up throughout the episode as a bit of an ass, but these are dire times and he has cause to put up a hard line. So when he spots Nanami under the cherry blossom tree she temporarily restored and seems to be instantly smitten (and why not; Nanami is a cutey), it’s clear this guy isn’t your normal villain/usurper. But while I realize this is the introduction to a more tengu-focused story arc, I was still miffed by Tomoe’s exceedinly scant presence.

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Junketsu no Maria – 07

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Junketsu no Maria delivered a brutal, exciting, and character building episode this week. Philosophically speaking, It may’ve be about people paying for their sins but the structural ramifications for each character are so immediate, it hardly seems worth digging for deeper meaning.

Still, the sin/payment structure is as good a hook as any to frame a synopsis so bear with me…

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Sin & punish: Carrying over from last week, the French have relied on their (partial) control of Maria to shape this week’s battle in their favor. It goes well until Maria shows up off-script and, even though they have the English on the run (and Maria is blown out of the sky), the battle goes to crap and they are forced to retreat.

Their sin is arrogance in assuming they had control and their punishment is death and defeat.

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Similarly, the mercenaries move out of position because their greed isn’t being sated by the grunts they are fighting but, when the English counter attack (after Maria is blown out of the sky) their employer ends up losing.

Their sin is greed, and their punishment is death and not getting payed because they lost the battle.

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…which brings us to Galif, who proposed leaving their assigned position in the first place, and who’s boss holds financially responsible for the loss. As a micro-aside, the merc boss calls him a Moor, which may just be an insult but would be hella interesting as a side detail for his character.

Context aside, Galif then slits his boss’ throat, in front of the merc-camp-hoochie, and gets his arm blown off by a cannon ball before any resolution can come of it. The scene is exquisitely violent and matter of fact.

His sin is wrath and his punishment is brutal pain and near death.

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Meanwhile, Joseph chooses not to kill a lowly english footman only to have that man instantly butchered in front of him. Joseph’s sin is a minor defiance against God through his assumption that saving a man is better than God’s salvation, and his punishment is minor in that he just has to see the man murdered in front of him — to see how powerless he is before ‘God’s will’ …or the people who act in his name.

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That leaves Ezekiel and Maria,who are both prideful and not obedient. For this Ezekiel is forced to become Michael’s spear and slash Maria from the sky. Fortunately, Ezekiel retains enough self-will not to kill Maria in the process.

Like Joseph, Maria is also forced to see her efforts amount to nothing. Even before her spearing, the English use the truce time to retaliate against the French — even though Maria was providing them safe cover to retreat. Though I suppose they chose correctly’ish, in that they won the day and chased the French from the field…

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The ramifications are pretty obvious: lot of people died, Galif shows a total lack of morality that I didn’t suspect and Joseph/Maria/Ezekiel become closer when they realize each other’s feelings. Even the Witches become closer to Maria, as they help her off the field and to recover at Edmura’s house.

Oh and Ann’s Grandmother dies off camera.

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Blood and guts and a solid medieval battle, followed by the wounded hanging around and gabbing while they recover (or don’t). It was a good rise and fall for an episode, visually gripping, and maybe meant something symbolically too.

Scrape that all into a bucket and I call it a 9. How about you?

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