This episode…. I feel like I allowed my mind to run too wild about what would become of this incident with Raiju. Perhaps it’s because I have heard a lot how those who read the novel absolutely despises Raiju, so I was expecting a lot worse, or maybe I’m just so used to the “absolute worst” situations to the point it becomes a cliché. Regardless, it wouldn’t be fair to say the curse he had inflicted onto Aoi was underwhelming, but rather in in some way, I liked the direction it had taken. I don’t know about you, but when Aoi lost her sense of taste, I teared up for her. It just broke my heart in a million pieces, because cooking and food is something is precious to her. In more ways than one, cooking is what validates her existence. Without it, she feels like she is useless, and doesn’t have a place she belongs. So naturally I totally lost it when she desperately went to the kitchen in attempt to cook an omelette. Luckily Chibi ate it without any problems, making me wonder if Raiju was just being an asshole and lied about it taking like crap (his eyes certainly made it look like it was WAY better than he thought it would be).
This is why I am not upset they didn’t go down the path of Aoi being trapped in a nightmare for god knows how long, being tormented by the trauma. In fact, the event of her true distress, the threat of being eaten by Raiju was short lived. And the one who actually got her out of the situation, wasn’t Ginji, nor was it Oodanna, but Byakuya of all people! I also admire she didn’t cower in fear, but even though she’s completely vulnerable, she still managed to look fierce.
It is also important to note it was an intelligent move on Raiju’s part to seal away her sense of taste, but also her voice as well. By doing so, she is unable to cook the Treasures of the Sea herself, and by taking away her voice, no one will be able to hear her scream when he attempts to eat her. Raiju probably would have been able to get away with it had he been fighting Ginji since he has been around far longer than he had, but what he didn’t foresee (or any of us for that matter) was Byakuya’s appearance. (GINJI WAS MAD AS HELL THIS EPISODE! HE WANTED TO KILL THAT GUY! It was kind of funny to see Ranmaru running after him telling him not to be reckless!)
And that, I will say was quite amusing. For whatever reason, Raiju is absolutely terrified of Byakuya, he can’t even stand being in the same room as him. Who would’ve thought he would be one to keep Raiju in check! Had it not been for the tensions between Orio-ya and Tenjin-ya Inn, surely Byakuya would have been able to lend a hand by simply being present by shadowing the Thunder God.
I think the only thing that bugs me was how this event was handled. Actually, now that I really think about it, this has been a on-going problem since the beginning of the series. There would be these really dramatic scenes where Aoi is in a serious pinch… and then the storm completely blows over as fast as it came. Now I don’t know if it’s the anime that’s screwing it up or this is the way it actually plays out in the books (it kills me that i can’t read it yet, maybe in a year or two… if I really study hard…) but I find it a bit irritating because I want to experience the suspense! It was also irked by how they casually revealed it was Raiju who sent the assassins. Like, um, that’s a big deal and they completely rush past it.
Anyhow, it will be interesting to see whether or not Raiju will look for another way to strike again. I can’t imagine his ego would be able to tolerate Byakuya ruining his fun, but we will have to wait and see.
Other than that, I am super pleased to see that Ranmaru did in fact succeed locating the Hourai Gem Branch. (See, the guy ain’t stupid!) He was able to track it down with through arrangements made by Oodanna, helping him meet the King and get permission to borrow the treasure. However while they have found it, they still need to actually get it. Nuin kept the treasure in a special wall scroll, so they will need to go on yet another journey to obtain it. Much like the difficulties they had to face when trying to obtain the Mermaid Scale, this quest has its own challenges the Ayakashi must face. The world inside the scroll tends to consume a lot of Ayakashi’s power, so they can’t afford to waste time. Aoi will also joining them on the journey, luckily with the help of Tenjin-ya’s Hyper Infusion, she was able to get her voice back, but she still cursed at the moment. I am left to wonder whether or not it has to be Raiju to be the one to remove the seal, or if someone else who is knowledgable in ancient curses would know how to deal with it.
And then there’s the matter of the Mystery Ayakashii. It is rather unfortunate how long this had to be dragged out, but finally, THEY GAVE US NEW INFORMATION TO WORK WITH! And it’s about bloody time! This episode have more or less indirectly confirmed the Mystery Ayakashi has always been two individuals, Ginji and Oodanna– at least to those of us who have considered this theory. While I have been on the Oodanna bandwagon from the start, as I mentioned last week, the theory of Oodanna and Ginji both playing a role of the Mystery Ayakashi has always been on the back of my mind. In fact I had gone crazy and starting gathering as much information as possible while rewatching the show from the beginning. Here are some of the clues foreshadowing this:
Mixing Voices: Both Oodanna’s, Ginji’s voices have been used, and even mashed together. I have always interpreted this as a sign of holes in her memories, and how her confusion of who she thought the Mystery Ayakashi may have been influence by that. Remember, the kid was starving to death. You are definitely going to be missing pieces of information after that!
Different Knowledge: While it’s likely the two of them have exchanged information with each other, it is also apparent how one such as Ginji would know something that Oodanna doesn’t, and vice versa, most noticeably, her favourite food.
Change of Hair Color/Appearance: Okay, I recommend taking this with a grain of salt, but it in ways it has been foreshadowed the two of them were involved from the very beginning, starting with the first episode itself! As you can see, there are four variations of the Mystery Ayakashi. Here’s a couple of observations I have made in regards to the Visual Clues!
- Black Appearance: Episode 1, Ep 4, Ep 9, Ep 10, Ep 14+
- White Appearance: Episode 3 (*This is most likely to have been a colouring error though)
- 1st OP Sequence: A bit of both (black and white, purplish hue) and a black/purplish shadow.
- Teaser: Whitish/Silver Eyebrows
The Sense of Touch/Familiarity: Aoi recognized Ginji’s touch when he wiped her tears, (I think this was when she really started believing Ginji was the Mystery Ayakashi) and when Oodanna was comforting her, it felt familiar to her. The scene Aoi has yet to connect the dots however, is when Oodanna’s nails broke her skin when she gave him her lunch at the shrine (Episode 1).
Now let me explain why I believe the one talking in this episode was specifically Oodanna.
The Mystery Ayakashi spoke about there’s a place (we now know: The Hidden Realm) that needs her. Once she becomes an adult, he will come to get her and make her his bride, and it would make him happy if she were to come to love him.
As soon as I heard that, there were two things that came to mind. The first is Oodanna’s compassionate reputation of helping others find a place to belong at Tenjin-ya Inn. After having been abandoned by her mother, he is basically telling Aoi not to give up hope, and there’s a place waiting for her in the distant future. And then there’s the second, the most important part of the promise: To marry her when she’s older. The moment he says this, the first thing that came to mind was Oodanna’s reaction when she rejected him in the first episode.
He was absolutely shocked, but most of all, hurt (as seen in the image on the right). Their reunion ended up being everything he ever feared, to the extent, if he revealed the truth to her, he might disappoint her. This is possibly the exact moment he became incredibly his self-consciousness of being an Ogre around Aoi. That’s why he recoiled so coldly, and was taken aback when Aoi started approaching him on her own. This is also where the misunderstanding may have ensued. He may have thought Aoi had remembered him and his promise, but in turned out she didn’t, or at least she didn’t believe it was him. Sadly, that is still the case since she believes it was Ginji who was her sole saviour/first love at the moment. And on the subject of first love, this would also explain why Ginji said (after Aoi told him about her first love) Oodanna would love to hear about it. Most certainly so, especially now that he knows he has a fighting chance with her.
Another thing I want to quickly dig into is “Aoi’s Role” in the Hidden Realm. We learned from Ginji today how he never thought of eating Aoi because to him, she is the embodiment of hope. This is another thing we have seen her demonstrate by opening Moonflower. Her food brings happiness and health to the Ayakashi. In a world where poverty is rampant and many are struggling just to put food on the table, Aoi’s cooking is something that can change things if she is given the power to. It is something I am certainly curious to see whether or not it will be something that is explored in the novels.
Besides having to still wait to hear from Oodanna himself, there are still a couple more crucial pieces of information we still have to consider:
- How long it was before she was found by the social services?
- How did they find out about her situation? Where did they get the word from? And how did they find her?
- The Circumstances behind Promise of Marriage
In the end, while week’s episode it didn’t quite live up to my expectation, it certainly surprised and allowed me to enjoy it in a different way. The MVP of the episode without a doubt has to go to Byakuya. This guy doesn’t get enough airtime, but when he does, he makes it count. I live for his savage comments, especially having the guts to nonchalantly insult the King, like DUDE. AHAHAHA! Also a special mention to Chibi because, how could we not appreciate his effort to protect her with a cucumber! GInji also had his adorable moments (after he was able to calm down!) He did such a beautiful job on the meal! *Drools* I want to eat it too…
Next week, we’re off on an adventure with Ranmaru! 😀 Since the guy softened up I have grown more fond of him. But I am intrigued to see what we will encounter when the enter the woods that said to project ones’ inner desires. Oh goodness, I am a bit worried about Ginji now because this could be a rude way to learn he loves Aoi.
*Resumes praying for Season 2 to happen!*
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