Update: This review was initially labeled episode 18 – it has been corrected to episode 19.
Kotoko meets with Tae about the details of the case, and Tae informs her that Zenta infused a meteorite into the right arm of the wooden doll. The same meteorite that fell right in front of him when he was contemplating suicide, and seemed to improve his health, was included so that the doll would have a weapon with which to exact revenge when Zenta died.
I believe this is the first time outer space or a “cosmic” supernatural phenomenon has come up on In/Spectre, and it’s a neat and thought-provoking thing to bring up. For all of her amassed knowledge and wisdom of Earth-based youkai, Kotoko’s guesses about their space counterparts are as good as yours or mine. She also works a virginity joke into the discussion, but Tae is not amused!
Considering the wooden doll’s extremely regular timing and route, all they need to do is set a trap. That night, Kotoko organizes the youkai into two groups on the beach and tells them not to move. Kurou is employed as the one that will block the doll’s path and get it to divert to a pre-arranged spot. This requires that Kurou die a couple of times, but he’s eventually able to grasp the future thread needed for them to capture the doll.
Note that I say capture and not kill, because Kotoko believes Zenta made the doll relatively easy to destroy on purpose. She theorizes that the doll is essentially what’s colloquially known as a voodoo doll, and any violence exacted upon it could well befall, say, the four college students in the car that killed Zenta’s grandson.
In this way, Zenta would be able to get revenge on the entire town without dirtying his hands, since the townsfolk would technically be responsible for the college kids’ deaths. So before they can consider harming the doll, they have to capture it. That’s achieved once Kurou diverts the doll to the spot, and it falls into a concealed pit and its right arm immobilized with rope held by the two groups of youkai.
On closer inspection, Kurou finds names of the college students carved onto the doll—along with the names of townsfolk, including Tae’s. Tae posits that they can lift the curse—if there is one against everyone named—by simply scratching the names off the wood. When Kurou does so to her name first, Tae feels nothing. In the end, Kotoko was likely mistaken; the curse was strong enough to move the doll and produce electricity, but there was no “voodoo” effect.
With the matter resolved, Tae explains why she thinks Zenta carved her name on the doll. Zenta long resented her for living what looked like a happy and carefree life with all her money. Turns out she only has that money as reparations…for when her children were killed in a car accident.
Any attempts to rid herself of the excess cash resulted in even more cash coming in, whether it was a return on investment in a friend’s company, or damages paid when her husband died. One could call her both blessed and cursed.
As Kurou and Kotoko depart by car, she says it’s entirely likely Tae also contributed to the power of the wooden doll. If Zenta’s sense of resentment and revenge gave it some power, Tae’s own contemplation of death gave it more power; the power to become a threat to the town that she’d have to sacrifice herself to defeat.
Naturally, Kotoko doesn’t tell Tae the whole story, and it’s arguable if she needed to be told, as she’s probably already aware of that on some level. Kotoko then changes gears and whips out brochures, telling Kurou they should do touristy stuff. Considering the role tourism played in this case, it’s a wonderful, darkly comedic line.