In / Spectre – 02 – Murder at Mount Tsukuna

Iwanaga Kotoko has a very cool job, a job I would love to have. This week, she’s summoned to a very fretful giant serpent guardian spirit of a swamp on Mt. Tsukuna. This serpent needs the calming, ironclad explanation for why a woman dumped a corpse into his swamp and said to herself “I hope they find you.”

Kotoko probably doesn’t expect this to be a dangerous mision, and this is confirmed when the serpent expresses his general distaste for humans. Her reason for inviting Kuro to tag along isn’t about protecting her or defeating a boss, like last week’s case. So what is it about?

I’d say it’s a combination of her genuine affection for him and desire to be his wife, and part of that if the Goddess of Wisdom can become involved with the human most youkai fear most, perhaps she can show them he’s not really so bad!

That said, she’s unable to convince him to accompany her to Mt. Tsukuna, though when she uses youkai to locate his apartment, he sends her off with a hoodie to keep warm in the mountains and a hot meal of miso soup and onigiri, so he doesn’t come off as completely heartless.

Also, unbeknownst to Kotoko until much later in her meeting with the serpent, Kuro actually does follow her and observe from a distance, perhaps trying to get a feel for who this person is without the benefit of her being able to put on any airs.

What he witnesses is a surpassingly clever and well-spoken young woman who not only shows the serpent spirit respect and deference he doesn’t believe he deserves, but holds his proverbial hand through all the facts of the case she has amassed with the help of the youkai who work with her.

As the serpent attempts to rebut Kotoko’s explanations, Kotoko simply zigs or zags to a new route, adding ever more color and depth to the story of what led to Tanio Aoi dumping Yoshihara Hiroo’s corpse in the serpent’s swamp.

Since Aoi lived at the foot of Mt. Tsukuna, she may well have been aware of the fact the serpent was once worshiped there as a water god who brought rain. While the serpent betrays a bit of godly haughtiness by saying he would have much preferred a beautiful living girl to a dead middle-aged man, Kotoko reminds him there are two ways to bring rain: presenting an offering to please the water god, and one to enrage him; Aoi did the latter.

That’s when the youkai Kuro used to track Kotoko reunites with its sibling, and Kotoko realizes Kuro has been there all along listening in—including the part where she called him her boyfriend. But before their “lovers quarrel” as she calls it, she wants to resolve all lingering questions and doubts the serpent might still have. Not only does she have a cool job, she knows it, and thus does the very best work she can.

Rokka no Yuusha – 09

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Adlet and Hans end up defeating Chamot, though not killing her (it looks like Hans simply hits her with his blades in a way that knocks her out). But getting to her person was something Hans would never be able to pull off on his own; he relies on Adlet to throw enough distractions and misdirections as Chamot’s fiend shield to give Hans an opening, while Adlet needed Hans to buy time so he could think of the best tactics.

Chamot laughed off the possibility of people working together to beat her, but Adlet’s resourcefulness (and bag of tricks) prove to be the deciding factor.

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While I like how Chamot was ultimately brought down, I don’t like how it doesn’t really change anything. Chamot has already made clear she doesn’t really care who is or isn’t the seventh, so she’s a liability to the Braves no matter what, having vowed to kill everyone but Maura. If Maura is the seventh, that plays right into her hands.

But for all of the smarts Adlet needed to summon to beat Chamot with Hans, he took two steps back after taking one step forward, by splitting off from Hans and Chamot. At least when those three were together he posed a less tempting target and more convincing innocent party to Maura and Fremy. Going out alone when those two still think he’s the enemy is, frankly, idiotic.

And I say that even though Adlet is convinced he’s figured out the Seventh’s plan and convince Fremy to side with him. Fremy has tried to make it clear she trusts and believes in nothing and nobody, but even after she decisively debunks Adlet’s elaborate theory, the fact he’s still smiling and laughing and not giving up intrigues her too much to simply kill him. In effect, she’s starting to believe in something: him.

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Meanwhile, Maura, who split from Fremy (also probably not the best idea) ends up in the temple. She frees Chamot, and refuses to believe Hans when he says Adlet isn’t the enemy. In fact, Maura seems to change Hans’ mind back to suspecting Adlet by saying Adlet is “attacking their hearts”, which is frankly pretty vague accusation, just as Maura is a vague character.

I’d suspect Maura most at this point if it weren’t for the couple of odd and, on the surface, innocuous cuts to Tania and Goldof, the only two braves who didn’t encounter anyone else this week. First, Tania remarks how Hans seemed to know she was a princess when they first met, but then pretended to forget, calling her “bunny girl” instead, angering Goldof.

Then, after musing about how there’s “something different” about Adlet, she asks Goldof to look at her crest, confirming all six braves are still alive. If we’re splitting hairs, there aren’t seven petals on the crest, so if the seventh dies, the crest won’t change. But Tania takes it to mean Adlet and the others are still alive, that Adlet is working hard, and that she must work hard too.

The way she says all this, it’s unclear whether she’s looking ad Adlet as a comrade…or a worthy adversary. If Tania is indeed the seventh, she seems to be enjoying herself.

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Rokka no Yuusha – 08

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Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight! Hans is done talking with Adlet, who manages to escape using a smoke bomb, but Hans doesn’t let up in his pursuit, and they end up crossing swords once more. This means Adlet, who only proves Hans right if he kills a fellow brave, cannot achieve victory by defeating him or outsmarting him.

No, he has to convince Hans without a shadow of a doubt that he’s not the seventh brave. He does so by launching his sword blade at him, a move Hans did not predict, but Adlet intentionally misses, something the seventh would not have cause to do.

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Hans seems to accept that Adlet isn’t a fake, while Adlet bets that Hans isn’t the seventh, or he’s set himself up for slaughter. Indeed, Hans tells him he’s the real seventh, and slits his throat—but it’s only a hallucination induced by the poison on the blade he cut Adlet with.

In that state, Adlet is incapable of lying, and looks like his time is up, convincing Hans once and for all that Adlet is a comrade, not an enemy. WHEW! And what do you know, now that Hans has proven he’s reasonable (and not the seventh), I instantly like the guy a lot more.

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If only the others were around to witness their exchange. Instead, Mora and Fremy are off on their own, still convinced Adlet is the seventh and ready to kill him on sight, heightening the tension of the situation. Though at least Nashetania manages to convince Goldof that his prejudiced view of Adlet is a result of jealousy, since he believes Tania is driven by feelings for him.

Finally, after Adlet and Hans inspect the temple further, Adlet decides he needs to ask Chamot, who along with Hans are the only two people who weren’t briefed on how the barrier is activated.

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Adlet doesn’t suspect Chamot, mind you, but Chamot is simply bored and does not care who is a real brave and who is fake. Just as the 16-year-old Goldof’s judgment was susceptible to his hormones, the even younger Chamot is driven by a desire to wrap things up quickly and neatly. If the seventh isn’t Adlet, it’s Fremy, or Kitty-san, or the Princess and her aide. Chamot is confident she can destroy the Demon God on her own, so she’ll kill everyone else to ensure they won’t get in her way (everyone but Mora, that is).

And I have to hand it to her, she makes a good case for why she’s good enough to take on the Demon God alone, as well as why Fremy ran the hell away from her rather than fight. Chamot eats her cattail and rather disturbingly vomits out a swamp, from which numerous squishy fiends emerge and attack Adlet and Hans. When they try to cut them down, they instantly regenerate and keep coming.

It’s a frightening, relentless attack, but Chamot’s comment about not killing Mora leaves open the possibility Mora could put a stop to her foolishness. She and Fremy just have to get there before Adlet and Hans buy it!

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