J-Dan has become a surprisingly rich and complex tapestry of sibling dynamics, not hesitating to jump back in time to show us how they struggled with their powers in one way or another while making their place in the world, and how they continue to work hard and grow as they compete for the Kingship. It’s a big family but the show has proven surprisingly deft at juggling them, even as it tends to play favorites (i.e. Akane).
I for one was greatly entertained by the unveiling of Misaki and her seven deadly clones, so I was happy to see them back this week, especially since this “Misaki Summit” is really just Misaki herself going over something in her own head; only the individual emotional parts of her head are manifested as physical clones.
It’s a weighty metaphysical concept made incredibly simple and easy to digest, as Misaki laments all her siblings campaigning so hard for themselves while she puts “country first.” But with some well-timed advice from Haruka, she realizes her position is just another kind of selfishness. Anyone who runs for King must be a little selfish, after all.
What’s cuter than Akane? LIL’ AKANE. Just look at that mischievous little squirt! We see her in one of the episode’s many flashbacks, as Kanade takes her out to the park to play even though Shuu warned them not to. Kanade tries to keep Akane on her side by conjuring up that hero outfit for her, followed by a giant castle, but it materializes incompletely because she’s run out of funds.
When she tries to force-conjure a staircase, the columns holding the castle up disappear. Shuu pushes Akane to safety, but his legs are crushed by the rubble, and right up to the present, he can’t participate in strenuous sports, even though he dreamed of becoming a soccer star. It’s a pretty dark and intense memory Kanade bears every day, and while none of her siblings are sure why she wants to be King, we learn why here: she’ll do everything in her power to help Shuu fully recover.
Kanade’s determination to win makes her frustrated with her near-perfect older sister Aoi, who seems to achieve or gain everything so easily while Kanade must pay, either in hard lessons like Shuu or currency. But Aoi has her story to tell as well, and it’s just as dark and brooding.
As it turns out, Aoi has a power beyond simply remembering everything she studies and everyone she meets: she can also, if she chooses, make someone do whatever she wants, no matter how ridiculous. When she first gained the power, she used it inadvertently, but gradually figured out she was manipulating people.
Even though she learned not to carelessly issue direct commands to people, a part of her still felt she gained her three friends by “cheating” with that power. But when in the present the three say “no” to her offer to buy them tea for helping her hang posters, they qualify it by saying they’ll share the bill.
Before her powers fully manifested, she had to go out on a limb and ask them to be her friends, and they agreed of their own free will, just as they continue to want to be her friends because that’s what they are, not because they have to.
And who is it who makes this observation that sets Aoi’s mind at ease, and possibly opens the way for Aoi to consider running more seriously for King despite her secret power? Akane, of course.
She may be painfully shy, but she can also be mighty perceptive and supportive to those she cares about. She, and all the other siblings in this show, have most definitely made me care about them.