Mirai joins the literary club at Akihito’s insistence officially meeting Hiromi and Mizuki. The four go to the Nase residence, where Izumi confiscates Mirai’s hunting license for a month due to her actions. Mizuki and Mirai work together to destroy a youmu possessing a passerby. Mizuki helps Mirai get a part-time job minding Ayaka’s store and posing for photos. Depressed after his transformation, Akihito skips class. After much convincing, Mirai gets Mizuki to end her embargo and attend the lantern festival, where they’re joined by Akihito and Hiromi.
There’s really nothing quite like a well-funded Kyoto Animation series, and little this season can match its frame-for-frame grace and beauty. Lovely details abound: characters rapidly cycling through facial expressions, lessening the need for spoken words; characters playing with their hair; swirling ice in a glass; arrogantly sipping on a juice box. If this is a guilty pleasure, we don’t want to be innocent. In contrast to last week’s focus on one big central story-line – defeating the hollow shadow – this week is a veritable smorgasbord of little vignettes that make up the day and night Mirai spends mostly with Mizuki, leading to something resembling the start of a friendship.
When Mizuki first shares a space with Mirai this week, you can tell there’s tension. We’re assuming if Mizuki had her way she’d simply be able to “observe” Akihito in peace, free of interloping bespectacled strumpets. But the more time she spends with Mirai, her notion of her softens, to the point she’s even laughing and smiling around her. Perhaps a part of her admires Mirai’s willingness to reassess her ascetic outlook in light of recent events. Mizuki’s stoic sister admonishes her that she’ll always be alone due to her calling. But in truth, everyone is “all alone” at one point or another, so its something everyone can relate to.
Rating: 8 (Great)
- A kind reader pointed out something to us we had somehow missed up until this week: that the episodes titles refer to a common visual motif in that episode, in this case, “Chartreuse Light”, which is everywhere: tea, a sweater, a soft drink, and of course, lanterns.
- Akihito puts up a brave front in the opening scene (for once, confiding with Hiromi on Mirai’s “little-sisterness” in a way making him worthy of her and Mizuki’s scorn), then kinda going off by himself to mope.
- Mirai’s tendency to “whine on her blog” is a pretty funny aspect of her character, and in reality great way of letting off steam.
- Ayaka does run a studio, and Mirai did need the cash, so the photo shoot counts as Justified Fanservice.
Mirai and Akihito remain trapped within a mental labyrinth of the Hollow Shadow’s making as Sakura continues to chase them. Among the illusions is a massive effigy of Yui, but with Akihito’s imploring Mirai destroys it, revealing the shadow’s main body, which she also destroys. They return to the real world, and Sakura withdraws.
The final form of the shadow possesses Akihito. Mirai is forced to stab him, drawing out the shadow, which she finally destroys, but the damage done to Akihito’s body awakens the extremely powerful youmu side, which Hiromi, Ayaka and Shizuku struggle to neutralize. Mirai jumps on Akihito, and he returns to human form.
This was a properly epic episode, which had a little bit of everything: a chase through a weird, surreal dreamworld that exploits insecurities; a murderous vendetta; a big, multi-layered boss battle; a surprise setback; and most importantly, Mirai’s realization that yes, Akihito knows exactly what the fuck she’s going through. If anything, he has it worse! Like Monogatari’s Koyomi, Akihito is far easier to take seriously once we’ve seen exactly what he is and what he’s capable of, besides healing quickly.
By showing some of the more powerful characters in the series barely hold him at bay is telling of the danger he poses when his human body is in peril. Now Mirai gets it: Akihito, like her, bears a terrible curse that constantly reminds him he can never rest easy in his life…but that doesn’t mean he won’t live it. In the crucible of fire and blood, Mirai and Akihito’s friendship deepens. In a way, these two are a perfect match. All they need to do is control their powers so everyone else isn’t forced to eliminate them!
Rating: 9 (Superior)
- Two characters who leave just as soon as they’re introduced: Sakura and that Fujima dude.
- Mitsuki, Hiromi and such may not have wanted Akihito anywhere near Mirai, but you have to admit, things would not have gone so well had they not been together.
- Mitsuki and Hiromi’s sister Izumi is scary powerful, at least with defensive barriers.
- Izumi is also a damned thief, stealing the crystal the hollow shadow dropped!
When the “Hollow Shadow” – a massive, storm-like, amorphous dreamshade (youmu) approaches the town, Mirai is resolved to fight it, while continuing shun Akihito. Through Mitsuki and later Mirai herself, Akihito learns that she was adopted by the Inami family of spirit hunters, but when the Hollow Shadow possessed their oldest daughter Yui, Mirai’s only friend, Mirai panicked and killed her. Yui’s younger sister Sakura ambushes Mirai; and they’re both absorbed in the Hollow Shadow. Sakura is about to kill Mirai when Akihito appears and breaks up the fight.
When Akihito delivers to Mirai a 10,000-yen bounty for the youmu she cornered (Mitsuki finished it off with her pet squirrely thing), Mirai verbally refuses the cash, but contradictorily holds her hands out to take it. Akihito notes that her words don’t match her actions at all. This is one reason why he ultimately ignores her warnings to stay away from her and out of her affairs, to the point where she’ll even stop hunting him. The other reason is, without knowing it, she’s put a spell on him. Not literally, no, but he cares about her and doesn’t want her to throw away her life.
When the ominous Hollow Shadow arrives in town, it’s treated as a force of nature like a hurricane; something to weather out, not take on directly. Mirai disagrees; she killed her only friend attempting to fight it, and in addition to not wanting that death to be in vain, she wants to atone, at the cost of her own life if necessary. It’s good then that Akihito decided not to listen to her words. Considering how quickly Sakura almost defeats her, Mirai probably would not have lasted long against the Big Black Cloud of Malice. Not that we expect her to be grateful for his heroics.
Rating:7 (Very Good)
- Fujima Miroku, an interrogation officer from the Spirit Hunters’ Observation Department, shows up due to the Hollow Shadow…but he doesn’t do much. That’ll probably change.
- The Nases keep a real youmu embedded in the wall. Makes a great conversation piece at dinner parties!
- We like how the Shadow not only turns the night sky purple, but also causes the propagation of all manner of lesser youmu all over town.
- Sakura’s gun-spear (complete with built-in chainsaw) is an awesome weapon, and her blood-splattery battle with Mirai is quite exciting.