Sarazanmai – 07 – Back to Who He Was

We check in on Mabu as he’s undergoing some kind of semi-sexy “maintenance,” which makes sense considering we’ve seen that he has a mechanical heart that I believe runs on desire. Mabu and his partner Reo seem more distant than ever.

Meanwhile, Kazuki is now to cherishing his connections: those with his friends, his parents, and of course, his totez-adorbz bro. He doesn’t even accept his mom’s sachet, telling Haruka to hold onto it for him. You can tell his folks are relieved Kazuki is acting more like he used to: cheerful, upbeat, and magnetic.

It’s a triumphant moment just to see Kazuki joining Enta at their riverside practice spot; more so when Toi decides to join the soccer club, a heart once thought cold sufficiently thawed by the warmth and enthusiasm of the other two and their acceptance of him, delinquent history and all.

While the kappa boys are on cloud nine, Reo surveys the ward for potential zombie kappas alone, in the dark. In a flashback to just after the siege of the Kappa Kingdom, he learns that his beloved partner Mabu was gravely wounded, and but for the grace of the Otter Empire’s Chief “Otticer” of Science and Technology, would have shuffled off this mortal coil.

The lads are shocked to find the practice spot has been vandalized by trash (like Dr. Kappa cans) and paint, but immediately set to work cleaning the place up until it sparkles, employing the same teamwork they would have used playing footie.

But the next day, the mess is back, and just as bad, and Toi gets a foreboding call from his brother, informing him his latest job went south and they’ll have to leave town. The timing can’t be a coincidence, can it?

While I initially thought Toi was vandalizing the spot on the sly, my suspicions evaporated when I saw how genuinely disappointed he was that he had to go, and his gratitude when Kazuki suggests they collect the one more Dish of Hope needed to make five, and use them to help Toi and his bro.

When Toi asks Enta why he’s okay with this arrangement, Enta states that the way he sees it, Kazuki’s present wish is to help Toi. Almost on queue, the potential source of that fifth and final dish arrives in the form of a “Balls” themed Kappa Zombie, reported by Sara (who goes on lovey-dovey strolls with Keppi) with an E.T. visual reference.

But when they all meet in Keppi’s park, he senses something is amiss, and sure enough, they discover the four dishes they hid under the ground tile have been stolen. Keppi suspects the Otter Empire, and he transforms the trio into kappa to do their thing, sticking with the plan to collect a fifth dish.

The Kappa Zombie’s Shirikodama reveals he longed to be kicked, either like a ball or in the balls—or heck, both—by his girlfriend. In the Sarazanmai that follows his defeat, the culprit behind both the practice spot vandalism and theft of the Dishes of Hope is revealed to be Enta, who is jealous of Kazuki’s increased attention towards Toi.

Enta’s treachery is dastardly, but easily explained: just when Kazuki is back to the way he was before Haruka’s accident, Enta has to share the guy he loves with someone else; someone he feels has neither put in the work nor been around long enough to deserve such outsize attention; at least compared to him.

Speaking of being “back to the way he was,” that’s how the New Mabu describes himself on the rooftop when Reo sees him for the first time since his injury and operation. But Reo’s reaction is immediate and intense; this is not the Mabu he knew; he would never look at him the way this Mabu does.

Mabu may have been given a mechanical heart that enables him to live on, but as Reo said earlier in the episode, everything he says is a lie. And of course, consistent with Kunihiko’s love of wordplay, uso is Japanese for “a lie” but can also mean “otter”, as in kawauso.

All this backstory deepening the Otter Cop characters is very welcome. As for the large monster with very Keppi-like pink eyes that ominously yells “daaarknessss”…well, I think I’ll just need to tune in next week to figure out what that’s about…

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Aku no Hana – 08

Kasuga Takao, Saeki Nanako, Nakamura Sawa

Kasuga and Nakamura walk home hand in hand. Kasuga can’t sleep. Saeki is outside the school to meet him the next morning. They enter the classroom together, and Kasuga discovers all the ink obscured his name. A school meeting is called and the school is dismissed for the day. Kasuga retches behind the school, but Nakamura tells him he should be proud for breaking through one of his walls. Then Saeki confronts them, and Kasuga says they should break up. Saeki recognizes the drawing on the classroom floor from the cover of The Flowers of Evil and asks Kasuga if he wrecked the classroom and stole her gym uniform.

During Kasuga and Nakamura’s long moonlit stroll through town, tightly holding hands, they don’t just look like a couple who just had a lot of fun; it’s a pretty direct symbol that Kasuga has tied his fate to Nakamura. She has poked and prodded him into doing something that destroyed his old world – the one in which he could pretend to be normal – and created a new one. And when does creation not require a degree of destruction? Kasuga and Nakamura stay connected until the very last moment when they have to part ways to their respective houses. It’s the first time Kasuga is detached from her and alone in this brand new world, and the disorientation causes insomnia, and the dread is palpable.

His second long, silent walk is done alone. We have no idea what to expect, but he expects the worst: expelled, possibly arrested, and definitely detested by his whole school. As the school looms over him, he nearly bolts in fear, but Saeki is there to block his escape. Now he has to go inside and see what he’s wrought, and with her. And it’s just as devastating to Saeki as he imagined. Nakamura is satisfied with her classmates’ reactions even if the ink covered up Kasuga’s name. But while his other classmates don’t know who vandalized the classroom, Kasuga’s desire to share Baudelaire with his muse was his undoing here, and Saeki is welcomed into the fold of secrets along with him and Nakamura.

9_superior
Rating: 9 (Superior)

Stray Observations:

  • Whew…for a while there we weren’t sure there was going to be ANY dialogue in this episode. Nakamura finally breaks the silence nine minutes in: “Hey…I live over there.”
  • Kasuga attempting to wash away his sins in the early dawn. The ink goes down the drain, but his sins remain.
  • We can understand Kasuga getting so hopped up on adrenaline he wouldn’t realize he was covering up all his blackboard confessions with black ink, but what about Nakamura? Did she plan for the ink to prevent their instant implication? Saeki still found out, but only because of the book cover.
  • The atmospheric soundtrack continues to kick ass.
  • Saeki may have been overly naive to trust Kasuga, but she’s no fool; she probably instantly recognized the flower on the floor.
  • How in the hell is Kasuga going to squirm out of this predicament?