Was it just me or did this episode feel totally rushed? This is the first time I felt like they were trying to cram too much all at once. If they felt like they need to make the most of this episode, it just makes me wonder just how much action is about to follow with the remaining six episodes. Without a doubt there is a bound to be chaos, as Raiju more or less implied he is going to mess with the ceremony once again (after confirming our suspicions of being the culprit behind the ceremony’s failure 300 years ago). I can’t believe he said it in front of Nobu, I guess everyone knows he is responsible, but are powerless to do anything about it…
But make no mistake! This was still an incredibly good episode, in fact it was an emotionally deep one that really made my heart simultaneously sing and ache.
To my surprise Oodanna’s and Aoi’s mini quest didn’t really play out the way I imagined (BUT WE GOT SOMETHING EVEN BETTER). It was quickly hijacked by Princess Iso’s ‘spirit’, who wanted to sit down and have some tea with Aoi and entrust her the duty to prepare the dishes made of ocean treasure. Unfortunately there is no miraculously reunions because the princess is indeed dead, but we did learn more about both Ginji’s and Ranmaru’s personalities as they grown up, and the type of relationship they used to have. I thought it was absolutely adorable how Ranmaru used to be the mama-boy who couldn’t win the fights (but at the same time, it makes me sad that he has turned into such a brute), and Ginji was the mischievous one who was strong (ironically, he is the one who grew up into a gentleman). I think the most endearing part was seeing Ranmaru’s soft side, of choosing to grow his hair out because Princess Iso loved its color, and even made her the bracelet she has now entrusted to Aoi. Actually to be honest, I am surprised that Ranmaru didn’t flip out when he saw it. Instead he acted a lot calmer than I thought he would, which prompted Ginji to become suspicious of him when he finally agreed to allow Aoi to help them, and provide her all the resources necessary to succeed. Considering how special Princess Iso was to Ranmaru, even he knew that for Aoi to have it in her possession, meant Princess Iso reached out to her and trusts her to help them with the ceremony.
But it wasn’t just about getting Ranmaru to finally accept Aoi’s help. It was incredibly important for Aoi to learn about the relationship Ginji and Ranmaru used to have. She understand now in order for the ceremony to succeed, they don’t just need the items, but she needs and wants to help them close the rift that has grown between them. While she wants Ginji to return to moonflower, she recognizes she can’t let them be, and is willing to give up trying to persuade her precious friend to come back to Tenjin-ya with her.
And speaking of our Moonflower duo! It was really good to see Ginji and Aoi were able to clear up the awkward tension that has brewed up between them. Ginji didn’t want her to get involved with the ceremony, so he kept on pushing her away. For the time being, it seems Ginji is set on returning to Tenjin-ya, especially since he is happily suggesting they discuss a new menu once the ceremony is success. It will be interesting to see if that changes when he and Ranmaru finally mend their broken relationship.
So much for Oodanna’s and Aoi’s quest, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t get a good scene, an important one at that! Well actually, it is a good thing that Oodanna went with her, because she would have undoubtedly have been eaten by the ogre had she gone alone. Dear god… I don’t think he would be able to live with himself if that had happened!
During the confrontation with the evil ogre, it put the spotlight a suspicion I have had since the first half of the series: of Oodanna feeling self-conscious of being an Ogre. This particularly stood out to me when the evil Ogre told him they were the same. Although he didn’t say it, I felt his eyes said, “I am not like you”. In fact, I have always found a lot of the times, whenever Oodanna joked about how Aoi would be marrying an Ogre, it always felt as though he were mocking himself.
Although I have mentioned it a couple of times, the anime has neglected to mention an important piece of information that was shared in both the first chapter of both the novel and manga. Right from the get go, Ogres are perceived as ‘evil’ and incredibly dangerous ayakashi, and Shiro had warned Aoi to steer clear from them. And now, having learned Oodanna grew up in a heavy miasma environment certainly makes the case of Ogres being the ‘darker’ class of Akayashi (opposite to Ranmaru and Ginji, who are both serve as Guardian Beasts). This is why Oodanna isn’t blighted by the miasma, because he grew up in such environment that his body has developed a degree of immunity to it.
However Oodanna’s ability to love and have compassion for others continues to challenge that dark reputation. We have heard and witnessed how he has helped so many of the employees at Tenjin-ya, or how upset he was when saw when he discovered the pit with the skulls of children that were likely kidnapped and were killed, while also being concerned for Aoi’s safety. He certainly strikes me as someone who is different from the rest, akin to being something like the black sheep of the bunch. There is also the possibility that someone positively influenced him to strive to become a better person. However with only six episodes left, I fear we won’t be able to dive into Oodanna’s backstory because right now, it is all about the Ceremony. If only there were to be a second season… Please make a second season!
Needless to say, whatever Oodanna’s backstory is, I can’t imagine it being anything else but a sad and tragic one. Oodanna always had this sense of loneliness, and I always had the sense that he never truly felt comfortable in his own skin. Oodanna has always given me the impression that he doesn’t feel like he can be loved or appreciated by Aoi because he is an Ogre. But today, Aoi showed him that is not the case. Even if he is an Ogre, she still cares about him and his wellbeing.
Although the fight was terribly underwhelming and left more to be desired, at least we were still treated with a special and intimate moment between Oodanna and Aoi. Although Oodanna brushes off the confrontation and his wounds as if it’s no big deal, he was merely concealing his hurt and insecurity, and for the first time, Aoi saw through that. It made her heart ache so much, she couldn’t help but cry. And it was clear, Oodanna was touched that she was crying for him. It makes me sad to think about his insecurities, feeling as though it is because of what he is, the one he loves won’t love him back. But I would like to think Aoi’s tears and her recognizing his pain, gave him that glimmer of hope that his love won’t be left unrequited, which is why he wanted to kiss her. In many ways, Aoi showing Oodanna that she cares about his wellbeing is a huge step forward in their relationship, and kissing Aoi’s forehead is one heck of a way to mark their next milestone (especially since Aoi wasn’t flustered or upset about it, instead she was surprised with how anticlimactic it was ahahaha! Girl were you hoping for him to kiss you on the lips? OHOHOHOHOHOHOHOH!)
That being said, I am curious to see whether or not Aoi will be a lot more conscious of the way he regards himself. While she has more or less stopped protesting/rebuking Oodanna’s comments of her being his bride/wife, there are times when Oodanna still jokes about being an Ogre. But it is worth a while to note he doesn’t seem to do it as often as he used to, which seems to be a subtle way of showing his growing confidence in sharing their future together.
Oh and one more thing about Oodanna: When Aoi mentioned Oodanna gave her Dorayaki before, he froze. He relaxed when he realized she mistaken it for thinking it was his favourite food– something Aoi is still trying to figure out. That being said, it certainly implies he has given it to her twice, which makes me more inclined to believe he may be the mystery Akayashi. (That being said, it is so cute to see him helping her cook at every opportunity he gets).
Lastly, having heard from Oodanna about Princess Iso’s and Ougon-douji’s friendship, this goes to show why she stepped up to help take care of the Southern Lands in her steed until Ranmaru was old enough to inherit the Hachiyo duties. This also demonstrates Ougon-douji is a loyal to her friend, a more kind side of her we haven’t seen since Aoi has met her at Moonflower.
Overall while it was a good episode, there were still some glaring flaws and scenes that could have been executed a lot better, namely Oodanna VS the evil Ogre (that fight was way too short and uneventful!). However I found myself irked by the sudden and obvious change in the art-style when Aoi and Oodanna were having their intimate moment. I understand they really wanted to make it stunning (and it was), but GAH, the art-style totally clashed! As someone who is extremely sensitive to change in details like this one, the first time I watched it, it kind of spoiled the mood for me. Well, I am sure this is likely to be something that will be touched up in the DVD/BD release. Also it was super cute how Aoi freaked out thinking by cutting Oodanna’s nails, it cut his power in half!
With only six episodes left (NOOOOOOOO!!! I AM NOT READY FOR THIS SHOW TO END!), I am wondering when exactly the ceremony will take place. Since Aoi is responsible for preparing the feast, all that remains is the Hourai’s Gem Branch. This is something that is widely theorized to be the hairpin Oodanna has given Aoi, which I am strongly suspect will be the case considering how Aoi has had a hand in gathering each of the treasures they need. If it turns out to be the case, it makes me wonder if Ranmaru is aware of it, and that is why he took it away from her in the first place. (Though I would laugh if it were, and he failed to identify it!) However there is one concern that crossed my mind last weekend while discussing some theories about one or more of the treasures being stolen. I have mentioned perhaps the Tengu Liqior is what would be stolen (if that were to happen), but after thinking about it, I realized if the Hourai’s Gem Branch is Aoi’s hairpin, then I could see Raiju taking that away in attempt to potentially frame either Aoi or Oodanna for it, or he will interfere with the cooking process (like destroy all the dishes or do something to prevent Aoi from cooking… Q A Q Oodanna please come back soon!)
Oh yes and one more thing: Since Aoi has strengthened her resolve and now officially has a role to play to ensure the ceremony is a success, Oodanna will be returning to Tenjin-ya to give a hand from behind the scenes. I don’t know how long he will be gone, but considering (or at least I don’t think) Raiju knows Oodanna is here, I don’t think it really would make any difference of when or how he chooses to mess with Aoi. Regardless, I hope he won’t be gone for too long, because I don’t have a lot of faith in the staff of Orio-ya protecting Aoi from Raiju, when it seems as though he as so much power, he can walk all over them as he please…