Karen has finally created a plan that will get her off Urashima via banishment – she’s going to get married and then run away from the ceremony! The lucky guy is one of the resident police officers on the island, a young man who looks not much older than Karen herself.
Setsuna and Sara have conspired together to create a reason for Karen’s father to kick her off the island, but Rinne appears to have no knowledge of their scheming. Sara in particular is excited to help Karen because she’s glad that Karen has finally gathered the resolve to work towards her goal of leaving Urashima.
Setsuna’s big idea is to interrupt the ceremony wearing an alien-looking mask and proclaim the marriage to be cursed. When Karen’s father naturally gets upset, Setsuna reveals his true self and tells the old man that he’s taking Karen off the island. It’s surprisingly simple and Karen’s father is caught so far off guard that he doesn’t even think to banish Karen as she runs out of the room with Setsuna.
Karen and Setsuna manage to flee together, with Karen’s betrothed giving her the keys to a motorbike so they can leave faster. Karen’s dad tries to chase after them but her older brother Subaru, who had come to Urashima special for his sister’s wedding, steps in and tells him not to follow them.
Setsuna and Karen ride the bike down towards the docks where a boat is waiting for them. However they don’t notice until the last moment that the boat is not moored to the dock so Setsuna has to somewhat accidentally do a little jump with the bike to land in the boat. Unfortunately this results in Setsuna being tossed into the ocean, and the owner of the boat has to drag him out and revive him.
It’s revealed that Karen’s brother Subaru was in on the plan as well; he’s the one who made the arrangement with the boat’s captain.
By the time the boat docks on the mainland, Karen has changed into a new outfit. She’s so excited to see her mother Natsumi that I can’t help but think that there’s going to be a twist in here somewhere. Karen’s father said that Karen’s mother left the island “for a man” – maybe her mother won’t want to see her? Maybe her mother will be sick, or dead? Maybe Karen won’t be able to find her mother and she’ll end up back at Urashima? Ugh something’s going to happen, I just know it. ><
Being on the mainland for the first time in her life makes Karen realize how different her life has been isolated on an island. Her clothes are a little different, and she’s never done everyday things like taking a train before. But Setsuna’s right with her the whole time, never leaving her side and giving Karen reassurance when she needs it.
While traveling by train, Setsuna notices Karen reading a well-loved book. Karen explains that a couple of the lines within hold a new meaning for her. In particular is the line about a revolution beginning when secrets are revealed. Aka foreshadowing for later in the series when I suspect secrets about Urashima and soot blight syndrome are revealed and shit hits the fan.
Finally the pair are just moments away from their final destination. Karen runs ahead of Setsuna to get her first look at her mother’s house, and… oh. Ohhh shit. Poor Karen. 🙁
I was right. Karen’s mother is dead. The map was a guide on how to get to her grave. Karen is of course absolutely devastated. She had so many questions for her mother, so much she wanted to know, and now Karen will never get the chance to have a relationship with her mother.
While Karen and Setsuna are at Natsumi’s grave, a young girl approaches them. I suspect she’s older than she looks, but her age is not specified. She says that Subaru had told her that Karen would be there today, and to introduce herself. Her name is Momoka Yamabuki and she’s one of Natsumi’s students. She’d come to pay her respects because Karen’s mother had done so much for her while she was alive.
Momoka takes Karen and Setsuna to Natsumi’s research station down on the water. She was a well-published marine geologist, but Natsumi used the male pen name Sueharu Nakamiya to publish her research because of the sexist discrimination against women in her field at the time. When Natsumi left Urashima 5 years prior she was given an opportunity to be an assistant professor, and that’s when she changed names.
Karen finally asks the big question: how did her mother die? Momoka says that about 1 year ago, she’d gotten into some kind of accident on the highway. I’m assuming that Natsumi was either killed immediately or died not long after the accident. Setsuna asks Momoka what Natsumi was studying, and Momoka almost reveals the answer but then declines due to confidentiality. Which is stupid because Natsumi is dead… unless Momoka is carrying on with Natsumi’s research? In which case ok, I guess confidentiality is a legit reason to not say anything. But we see from the brief flashes of Kuon’s room back on Urashima that Natsumi was likely researching soot blight syndrome.
Karen and Setsuna leave the research lab at the end of the day, claiming that they’ve had a lot of information thrown at them and they need time to absorb it all. Before they leave Karen asks Momoka if her mother was happy, and the young girl confirms for Karen that Natsumi was indeed happy, although her one regret was having to leave Karen behind on Urashima.
In the span of one episode what Karen thought she knew about her mother and her circumstances completely changed. Karen came to the mainland thinking that her mother had run away from her and her father; Karen’s father himself said that Natsumi left to be with a man. But the truth was that Natsumi was offered a professorship and the opportunity to study some groundbreaking research. And she never ran away from Karen at all – in fact she lamented having to leave her daughter behind. But Natsumi knew that she couldn’t make the decision of leaving the island for Karen; Karen had to grow up and make that decision on her own. Furthermore if Natsumi had brought Karen with her off Urashima and something had happened to Natsumi, Karen’s future and safety might not be guaranteed. Would Karen’s father have taken her back? Could she have gotten back to Urashima alone? No, in retrospect it was probably for the best that Karen was left on Urashima. It’s just shitty that Natsumi died in an accident before Karen made the decision to leave the island. And when you think back and realize that Karen could have probably left the island sooner, but lacked the resolve and the means to do so… how tragically ironic.
In the morning Karen wonders why her brother didn’t tell her that her mother was dead, and Setsuna says that Subaru wanted her to see the truth for herself “no matter the consequences.” And although this might seem like a cruel move to some, I think that it’s a rather loving gesture. Subaru wanted to support Karen’s decision to finally leave Urashima, even though he knew what she wanted to find would elude her. He could have told her that their mother was dead, but maybe Karen wouldn’t have believed him. She probably would’ve thrown questions at him that he couldn’t have answered. But he knew if Karen went right to her mother’s grave, and he arranged for Momoka to meet Karen there and fill her in on the circumstances behind her mother’s disappearance and death, then Karen would likely feel more resolved than if Subaru had just told her himself.
Before they leave the mainland, Setsuna takes Karen to a convenience store to buy her a few things. Karen takes that inch and runs a mile with it; it looks like she clears Setsuna’s wallet out by the end of her shopping trip, ha. But Japan’s convenience stores are AWESOME so I totally get where Karen is coming from. ;D
Later that day the two arrive back on Urashima, and Karen’s father and brother are there to greet them. Karen’s three friends from school are there too.
Setsuna returns to the Ohara family mansion, where he finds Sara has filled in for Karen and himself while they were on the mainland. Rinne seems a little miffed that Setsuna left her, but he soon wins her back over with his charm and some flirting. Sara overhears them and feels sad that others around her are changing, but she is remaining the same.
In the final moments of the episode, Sara is back at her shrine. We see her calendar which is marked with the date of Karen’s wedding: August 15th, 1999. 9 days later on the 24th, Sara’s 17th birthday is marked. For some reason there is a deadline attached to this birthday, something which must happen before Sara’s big day. What could it be? Is she trying to find a cure for soot blight syndrome before her birthday??
This was an awesome episode and easily my favourite so far. Even if some things were slightly predictable, like Natsumi’s death or what she was researching, it was still enjoyable to watch. Karen experienced tons of character growth during this episode, and traveling with Setsuna gave the two of them the opportunity to bond a bit. I’m glad that Karen had so many friends and family members who were supportive of her decision to leave the island. And the final scene with Sara raised so many questions that I’m even more excited for next week’s episode. See you then!
P.S – When this season is over, I’m thinking of downloading the visual novel game this anime is based on and giving it a try. Has anyone else played it before?