Kamisama Hajimemashita 2 – 10

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This episode features the unlikely but increasingly tolerable pairing of Nanami and a somewhat humbled (and therefore more reasonable) Brother Jiro, as they search for the Sojobo’s soul. He’s still stern and no nonsense, but he doesn’t prevent Nanami from following him down into a secret cavern.

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Jiro even tells her this was where Shinjuro got into trouble with a thunderbolt beast, and where Suiro lost his ability to fly by rescuing him. But when Jiro drops into a deeper chasm, even when lightning shoots up, nay, because it does, Nanami goes in after Jiro, not because she doesn’t trust him, but because he had the bearing of a man going to his death.

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The beast rears its head for Nanami first, and while she’s able to fire off a barrier against evil, it counterattacks with a massive lightning strike. It’s in this moment Jiro finally understands why Suiro saved Shinjuro and regrets nothing: the despair of losing his ability to fly was small compared to the despair of losing someone he loves.

Before Suiro knew it, he was moving to save Shinjuro. And before Jiro knows it, he’s moving to save Nanami, whom he admits he’s fallen for, and can’t bear to watch die.

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I love how over-the-top Shinjuro’s reaction to learning the soul is hidden in the same place where he was traumitized, but he quickly composes himself, knowing that not only is he a far stronger tengu now, in part because of that experience, but he’s also not alone: Tomoe is with him and Nanami is further in.

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Tomoe dispatches the “kitten” with his superior fox fire, but he isn’t able to bask in the light of Nanami’s gratitude for saving her as he usually does. Nanami is too concerned with Jiro, who is badly injured and loses consciousness.

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In a really nice icebreaker, the defeated thunderbolt beast, suddenly not so fearsome-looking anymore, coughs up the Sojobo’s soul like a hairball. Kamisama Kiss has always been great at tempering or punctuating its more serious scenes with lighter fare. Unlike, say, Violin girl, its slapstick never ruins the mood, but rather keeps it in check.

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Nanami’s continued concern for Jiro irks Tomoe, because he doesn’t like the idea of Nanami, whom he likes, worrying about another man. Still, he’s able to comfort her by assuring her Jiro will happily bear whatever consequences he must, because he got to save Nanami. He speaks form his own extensive experience: saving Nanami is always worth it.

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Kamisama Kiss puts on a romantic comedy/drama clinic this week, perfectly balancing Nanami’s joy and relief when Jiro comes to (thanks to her peach pills) with the embarrassment of walking in on a nude Jiro being bathed by Suiro.

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Tomoe initially playfully teases Nanami, but as usual goes a little bit farther than he should due to his own frustration of holding in his true feelings for the lass. When he tells her it makes no difference to him whether she goes back home with him or stays with Jiro to get to know him better, it clearly wounds Nanami, who contrary to Tomoe’s jealous suspicions, hasn’t simply flipped her love switch from Tomoe to Jiro.

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Still, Jiro did manage to do one thing Tomoe hasn’t been able to yet: clearly confess his feelings for Nanami. So at the cherry blossom tree viewing/Sojobo & Jiro recovery party (that’s a mouthful), Nanami is receptive to Jiro’s own attempts at courtship, which aren’t bad for someone who’s never laid eyes on a woman before.

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The beauty of the restored cherry tree makes for about as romantic a locale as one could hope for, but as much charm and respect Jiro has for Nanami, when she tells him how precious the peach pills she used to save him are, and how she wants Tomoe to have them if anything ever happens to her, it becomes clearer to him that he’s barking up the wrong tree.

Consider: when he flew her up into the tree, in a moment of fear Nanami called out for Tomoe. Also, when she has too many high-proof sake-filled steamed buns and gets wasted, she repeats his name again and again. With the walls of sobriety down, she also lowers her toughing-it-out mask. The only one she wants is Tomoe, and she’s far more happy being carried on his warm comfortable back than being in the middle of a cherry tree with Jiro.

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She even unabashedly lets off an “I love you”, not her first nor her last directed at Tomoe. And perhaps knowing she’s passed out and won’t hear it, he says he loves her too out loud. It’s a small step, but he knows it’s a necessary one.

As Shinjuro tells him, it’s precisely because human lives are so short, that if you have to say something, you’d better say it before it’s too late. Tomoe has technically said what he needs to say, but this time doesn’t count. Can he do it when Nanami is conscious? We’ll see.

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Yuri Kuma Arashi – 10

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An opening flashback depicts Reia sending Ginko across the wall through the Door of Friendship to save the bear from exclusion (i.e. death), giving her her pendant as a love charm and telling her the day will come when bears and people can be bears forever.

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Eleven years later, that day Reia dreamt of has never felt more far off. After the Yuriika Incident, the girls have fully militarized, forming the “KMTG” and procuring a truck armed with an anti-bear beam cannon powered by a cyborgified Yurikawa Konomi of all things.

Even though Yuriika is dead, the insidious threat she represented is having far-reaching consequences. Intolerance, paranoia, and vigilance are at all-time highs. Thankfully, even their leader Chouko Oki doesn’t suspect Lulu, or at least lets on that she doesn’t suspect her, simply warning her to watch out.

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Meanwhile, Kureha joins her mother’s incomplete story with the ending she found in one of Yuriika’s boxes, and so she and we find out what happened to the moon and forest girls, hoping to find some insight as to her and Ginko’s future. Staring at their reflections and warned that breaking through could cost their lives, they both decide break through anyway with barely a moment’s hesitation.

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The shattered mirror of their reflections give way to…each other, and they also waste no time embracing and exchanging promise kisses (i.e. confessions of love), and Live Happily Ever After. It’s a hopeful ending consistent with Reia’s words to Ginko about “one day” people and bears being able to coexist and love one another. But it’s also a bit…naive, not to mention contrary to the real-life story of Reia herself and Yuriika.

Kureha’s reaction to this is rightfully muted. She feels a bit of a fool for hoping she’d get all the answers from what amounts to a fairy tale. After all, there’s nothing in it about an anti-bear SWAT team on the hunt, nor the moon girl’s love for another moon girl (Sumika) whom her forest girl (Ginko) insists she killed, or the fact she simply doesn’t remember her love for Ginko.

There’s simply a lot more complication in Kureha’s world that her mother’s optimistic story doesn’t even bother touching on, so it loses a lot of its power.

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When Lulu arrives on Kureha’s doorstep, it’s with amends in mind. She knows what she did (sell out Ginko) was selfish and wrong and not much better than what Ginko herself did, not to mention it was done for the same reason (jealousy). She offers Kureha Ginko’s (formerly Reia’s) pendant, which she uses to unlock the picture frame, revealing Ginko in the folded photo, proving they were friends as Ginko claimed.

When Kureha offers her bath to Lulu (who is filthy from searching for the pendant in the dirt), Lulu tells her why Ginko said, and believes, she killed Sumika. Like Lulu’s transgression, she did it out of an unwillingness to back down on love. But when Lulu asks if Kureha will forgive Ginko, she says she can’t. This isn’t a fairy tale, and there’s no denying the fact she lives in a world of severance.

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That fact is made abundantly and rudely clear when, after a phone call in which Chouko ascertains a bear is at Kureha’s house, she has the KMTG storm it. Rather than give up Lulu, Kureha runs to the door of friendship, they make a run for it.

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As they run, Lulu figures out why Kureha forgot about her love for Ginko, but nothing else form that time: Kureha’s love is what Ginko gave up in order to become a girl. But Lulu thinks she can get that love back, because she didn’t give up on love, her memories were taken as a consequence of the Judgemens’ Yuri Approval.

Telling Kureha all this has immediate consequences for Lulu: her Yuri Approval is revoked and she reverts to her bear form. In that moment, Chouko targets her with a scope, but that turns out to be another bear on the run.

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Kureha won’t let Lulu, a friend, get excluded, so she takes her to the same place her mother took Ginko: the Door of Friendship at the flowerbed. But unlike Reia, Kureha doesn’t express her desire or hope of bears and people ever being able to coexist. Instead, she tells Lulu to leave “this stupid world,” and warns her that she’ll be shot if she ever returns. The optimism of the flashback is replaced by the despair of the present.

I hope this isn’t the last we see of Lulu, because of the three girls at the center of this show, she’s been the most flexible and caring of the others, and is the one most likely to reconcile the other two. Maybe she’ll get RE-approved?

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Kureha is conflicted between refusing to call bears her friends and knowing in her mind that they were and are. Sending Lulu off saves the bear’s life, but it could have also been a crucial step to Kureha fitting back in with her peers. Could have, that is, if Chouko didn’t catch her in the act, which she does.

With a spotlight on Kureha, Chouko creates her narrative of Kureha’s crimes on the spot: accusing her of consorting with bears and killing their friends. Kureha denies these charges, but she’s at gunpoint and in no position to defend herself against a group that has already made their judgement. All that remains is the sentencing.

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To make matters worse, Ginko is lurking in the bushes, her eyes red with the desire not merely to love Kureha, but to eat her. She’s in a very similar position Yuriika was in; a possessive, conquering love devoid of regard for the object of that love. In other words, right now Kureha is no safer by Ginko’s side than she is in KMPG custody.

Interestingly, after the credits roll, Kureha finds herself not in front of the barrels of their guns, but before the three Judgemens. Did they intervene? Is this happening in Kureha’s head? Either way, Yuriika and Ginko and Lulu have been through their Yuri Trials, and now it’s time for Kureha’s, which means no more standing on the fence.

Even if she wants to reject all bears forever, the yuri world is rejecting her as we speak.

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