I would be lying if I said this didn’t turn out to be an anti-climatic episode. Maybe I was just too excited for it, but I definitely felt this was the most rushed episode to date. Everything happened so fast, so it honestly didn’t give us a lot of time to process it. But I have to laugh because the rescue played out exactly as one of the many scenarios I imagined while I waited for this episode to air. (I am not ashamed to admit I am obsessed with this show).
In the end, the one who came to her rescue was Oodanna, who made the quick decision to skip the important Hachiyo Night Meeting, prioritizing Aoi’s safety first. He was able to track her down thanks to the Ogre Fire, that was later revealed to serve as a familiar spirit of a sorts, and eventually its fire will die out soon. Byakuya was left to take care of the rest in his steed.
What’s incredible though is how fast he was able to get there. I don’t know how far Youto is from the Eastern Lands, but it’s certainly not simply a few blocks away, aha… Anyhow, she was there for quite some time, having passed out for the second time, only to wake up to realize the place was flooding. What a terrifying way to wake up. With it firmly locked shut, there was no way she was going to get out of there without the Tengu-Fan (which was fortunately retrieved).
During her plight, she remembered more of her past, and her interaction with the Mystery Ayakashi. Once again, they are really doing a great job of sending us mixed signals. In fact, by the end of the episode they had me 100% convinced that it was Ginji… After-all, he to some degree, spilled the beans and much to my surprise, Aoi didn’t catch him. Well I guess to be fair, she was still unwell and feeling woozy, so she wasn’t really paying much attention. Regardless, with him knowing so much of the specific details and his guilt eating away at him, it must be him.
…Or so I thought.
All of that was thrown out the window when I collecting the screencaps, and caught sight of a very tiny, but crucial detail: The cut on her hand. Although we did not see any long black nails, (which had prompted me to assume it most likely had been Ginji’s hand) we know from the first episode when Aoi handed Oodanna the lunch, his nail broke her skin that time too. I swear to god, if it turns out it really is Oodanna, then god damn it, that means my suspicions of Ginji serving as a red-herring would be right
and show that I am not a maniac who over-analyzes everything.
So now I am back to being torn between the two again, the only other thing that’s preventing me from concluding Oodanna being the Mystery Ayakashi is the voice. I swear they must be overlaying it with both of their voices because I am pretty sure I heard Ginji’s voice— but I don’t have a lot of confidence in my hearing, so my take words with a grain of salt.
Darn it this mystery is taking over my life!!!
But one of the things I found rather interesting is how Aoi seems to be a lot more self-conscious around Ginji than she is around Oodanna (probably because she has him in the Friend Zone). She was flustered about her bedhead, she often feels at ease around him and is thankful for his support. And if he does turn out to be the one who saved her when she was little, I am sure she is bound to feel a bit more attracted to him, perhaps perceiving him as her knight in shiny armour due to being the one “saved” her. But as I mentioned last week, I also find it rather strange why she is in such a state of denial when it comes to thinking Ginji may have been the Mystery Ayakashi. Maybe there is a part of her that wants him to be the one, but it afraid she may be setting herself up for disappointment.
It turned out at least one of the culprits were the petty dramua from Tennji-ya Inn, forcing the Chief Chef to feel the need to take responsibility for their actions by resigning and leaving the inn, but to everyone’s surprise, Aoi wasn’t going to have any of it. She has yet to taste the chef’s Tenjin-ya full course meal! She says not being able to eat his full-course meal is would be the worse! Only after she gets to experience his dish he can quit.HAHA! Aoi and her priorities! However make no mistake, that doesn’t mean she has forgiven the dramua. If anything, she will showcase her scary side and have them work as her servants.
However despite the little shits from the kitchen claiming responsibility for imprisoning her, and almost killing her in the process, Oodanna and Ginji recognize that they weren’t the only ones after her at the time. Ginji shared how the enemy used advance techniques, paralyzing him while they spirited Aoi away. In fact they believe the ones who attacked her in the courtyard most likely was involved in this incident as well. As it stands, there are a range of suspects, from it being potentially one of their own employees, someone higher above them, or Orio-ya (and based off Ginji’s reaction, I suspect he is his rival he mentioned in the past), or another one of the leaders from the other regions. With that in mind, if it does turn out that Orio-ya is Oodanna’s rival who Ginji used to work for, it could be that Orio-ya is targeting Aoi as a way of getting back at Oodanna would “stealing” Ginji away or for similar reasons along the lines of losing something because of him. With Aoi as Oodanna’s bride, she seems to be perceived a a valuable target used to get under his skin. And Oodanna choosing the Hachiyo Night Meeting over her only validates that he cares about her deeply, and as result she becomes one of his weaknesses.
However Aoi’s memory of seeing the blond zashiki-warashi offers a critical clue that perhaps Ginji and Oodanna may indicate this may even turn out to be a bigger problem than initially anticipated. The question now is who is she affiliated with, and why after seemingly to have blessed Aoi prosperity with her business, is she contributing to putting her in harms way? Could it be she is allies with Orio-ya? Or she is an entirely different party to be concerned about?
I do want to quickly note, the first time we have seen Orio-ya was at the end of Episode 1, discussing about the arrival of Oodanna’s Human bride with a tengu. At the time, they mentioned “the day of the ceremony is approaching” (why yes I rewatch the entire show often enough to remember these things, and I regret nothing!) Whatever that is, I am going to guess that could have potentially been the subject of the Hachiyo Night Meeting. When Byakuya returns, perhaps we will get some answers of what we missed, if he was allowed to participate at the meeting in Oodanna’s steed in the first place.
Of course we mustn’t forget the VIP guests of the day! When I said this episode was rushed, I wasn’t kidding. A lot happened. After being rescued, Aoi only had a few hours to work with to prepare for the Royal Couple’s dinner, and had to do it with a high fever, but she managed to pull it off without a hitch. Although Oodanna offered to take care of the Royal Couple’s request, wanting her to rest as much as she could, but respected her wishes when she stubbornly refused.
Through the words of encouragement from Ginji and Oodanna, they suggest to her to just cool her usual simple meals, and so for their main course, she ended up making stewed pork belly, which brought about memories of Ritsuko’s local dish from her hometown in Nagasaki. Another albeit small thing that she and Nui appreciated was the home-made mayonnaise, something that was hard to come back in her days due to the war. Goodness all those dishes looked delicious, absolutely drool worthy. Now I am hungry… Although I must admit, the King appeared a lot more different than I imagined. It was cute seeing the two interact, they were clearly in love with each other, and enjoy eating out and experiencing the local delicacies.
Lastly, it was so sweet to see Aoi being taken care of by the others for once. She always makes them food, but this time having almost died and suffering from a high fever, they all did a little something to take care of her. Even Ginji was surprised to see them do thing for others for free! And oh my gosh, it was so adorable how Aoi responded when presented a Dorayaki he had prepared for her. Apparently it’s not something that can be found in this realm, but he had it. Her angry face when she was eating made her the cutest darn thing.