Still on their class trip, Sasami (using Tama) tries to become closer friends with Edogawa Jou, who believes she has ulterior motives. As they spend more time together, Kagami grows depressed. On the night of the summer festival, she storms off, and Sasami chases her. Kagami believes she’s broken because she isn’t happy about Sasami being friends with Jou, but Sasami assures her its a very human way to act. Switching to Tsurugi’s body, Sasami enjoys the fireworks with her brother on the beach.
This was a quiet, pleasant little episode before the finale in which Sasami continues her use of Tama to experience more of normal high school girl existence, which includes class trips. Ironically, while she’s striving for an ordinary life free of the burdens of her previous station as vessel of Amaterasu’s power, the friends she’s made thus far are anything but normal. Kagami is still coming to grips with what being a friend means (as opposed to just a “practice doll”), while Edogawa Jou sees everyone as either enemies or servants (and to her, a lover goes in the latter category).
Frankly, it’s okay that Kagami and Jou are so weird. We also like how being with Sasami has made Kagami so much more human, as she expresses jealousy and lonliness. Kagami has grown quite a bit right along with Sasami. Jou seems far denser, as everything has a meaning other than its simplest interpretation to her, but we enjoyed hearing her less-aloof servants (not friends of course!) Foxie and Babysitter try to steer her right, even if they don’t always succeed. She may consider herself Sasami’s arch-nemesis (and she may yet prove why in the finale), but for now, Sasami (and Tama) are fine with being her friend too.
Rating: 7 (Very Good)
- We liked how Sasami’s trip was documented via strange postcards that her mom and Micchan recieve.
- Edogawa doesn’t have a dick anymore. Good for her!
Having grown incredibly corpulent as a result of an alteration by the myriad gods, Sasami seals herself in an Ama-no-Iwato (heavenly rock cave). Kamiomi, Kagami, and Tama attempt to penetrate it to see what’s eating her, but she deflects them with a barrage of weaponry. Tsurugi returns from Yomi by using the Ame-no-Murakumo, and sends Sasami into the past. In this time, Sasami witnesses her mother fight for a better world to pass on to her, while she goofs off downtown and contracts an illness that turns out to be possession by Tamamo-no-Mae ( a nine-tailed fox), who attacks her mother with a sessho-seki (killing stone golem) and is aware of the preent-day Sasami’s presence.
We’re almost embarrassed to note that most of our knowledge of Japanese mythology is coming from this series as we watch it, so we have no idea how faithfully they’re portraying it. Our gross ignorance aside, we greatly enjoyed this episode, in which Sasami is the victim of an alteration rather than the lucky recipient, has her barrier besieged by her brother and the Yagami sisters, and is sent to the past by Tsurugi to resolve it. We thought we’d seen the last of her mother Juju-sama after her defeat last week, but she returns here in her prime, as a woman torn between being a dutiful shrine maiden and a loving, caring mother. She cannot be both, but she still tries.
Seeing her mom in this time, still alive and non-evil, working so hard to make the world a better place for her, Sasami can’t help but feel guilt for what she amounted to. She sees what she did – casting away her duty as her mother’s relief – as a betrayal, and she doesn’t feel great about it. But at the same time, her mother longed to be the normal human mother Sasami wanted her to be. This week we’re also introduced to Micchan, a girl who has been spirited away and forgotten her name and family (she’s even dressed kinda like Chihiro!), who feels she and Sasami are both insecure by the superior capability and excellence around them. And as we know, Sasami ultimately gave up.
Rating: 8 (Great)
With Tsurugi trapped in the underworld, Tama tends to an injured Kagami. Back at the ruins of the Tsukuyomi complex, Sasami’s mother gives her drugged daughter one last chance to return to being a Tsukuyomi princess. Sasami refuses, so her mother drugs her further to make her little more than a tool to impregnate with a Tsukuyomi priest she’s procured, in order to bear a new princess to fulfill her duty. Kagami gains consciousness long enough to heave Tsurugi’s devine sword all the way to Kamiomi, who uses it to escape from the mother’s captivity and free Sasami. The mother confronts them, but Tama arrives and take several bites out of her. A portal to the underworld opens, and Tsurugi drags Sasami’s mom in with her.
Once again this episode does a superb job subverting all of our expectations. What were we expecting? For starters, we thought we’d see Tsurugi struggling through the underworld, as depicted in a psychedelic style Shaft is no stranger to. She’d come out stronger than ever, face off against Sasami’s mom, and send her back where she belongs. But Tsurugi hardly does anything this week, and we barely see her. Most of the gruntwork of saving Sasami is left to the grade schooler with the grown-up body, Tama. In the process, we get a bit of backstory about how Tsurugi wasn’t always the perfect older sister, and times were tough for both Tama and Kagami, as could be suspected of new and reformed gods.
The episode’s climax also involves Sasami herself performing a binding spell on her mother that was taught to her by that same mother long ago, as depicted in a flashback in the cold open. There, we see a little more of the mom she remembers, rarely smiling but always kind and curious and loving, like the mother she was pretending to be last week. And for all her twisted methods (drugging and promoting rape), she is utterly convinced all she does is for Sasami’s and the world’s own good. But she’s not Sasami’s mother anymore; she died, and the kindess died with her. The bloodstained plushie Tsurugi overnights to Sasami from the underworld is a symbol of that loss and a memento of that ordeal.
Rating: 9 (Superior)
Sasami returns to school, but she has no friends, and so she chooses Kagami to be her first. Kagami seems unenthusiastic and annoyed, and a series of mishaps befall her. She tries to limit her contact with Sasami, telling her to leave her alone. Dejected, Sasami encounters Tama. After playing tag, Tama tells her how excited Kagami is about being friends, but has something to take care of. Sasami realizes the myriad gods are punishing Kagami for becoming her friend, and races to school, where Kagami is rooting out the evil gods who had amassed. Sasami reiterates their friendship and assures her she can one day become a human.
In this, the third-straight episode of something we’ve watched involving Hanazawa Kana, her character Kagami takes center stage as Sasami’s first friend since leaving her house. But Kagami proves a tough nut to crack, prompting us to conclude that befriending a devine robot isn’t the best way to reintegrate into society. Kagami is still coming to grips with having emotions at all, and the naive and socially inexperienced Sasami interprets Kagami’s demeanor imprecisely. Though when we saw Kagami chatting and walking off with a group of other girls, even we were wondering what was up with her.
Her coldness was in stark contrast with Tama’s warm, pet-like unconditional affection for Sasami. But as lovely as Tama is, she’s a child; Kagami is Sasami’s age, and she chose her. Just when we thought Tama was useless, she reassures Sasami (out of the mouth of babes indeed). Turns out, in a very roundabout but very efficient way, Kagami is only protecting Sasami, which is her (and her sisters’) raison d’être. When Sasami chose her, she forgot that every choice she makes has consequences – both good and bad. But when she does realize this, she makes sure Kagami knows she doesn’t just see her as a loyal protector, but a real friend…her first, no less!
Rating: 7 (Very Good)