Oh man this episode was beautiful, it hit me right in the feels. I don’t know about you, but during the last eight minutes, I was tearing up big time. Ranmaru and Ginji are so freaking precious, please protect them from the cruel world. The journey of obtaining the Hourai Gem Branch was something they absolutely needed to do together. Not only for the sake taking the first step of proper closure, but to help them mend their strained relationship. For so long, the two of them haven’t been able to properly communicate and be honest with one another, both being haunted by failure of the Ceremony 300 years ago. Ginji blames himself for being baited into Raiju’s trap and letting Ranmaru down by leaving him, and Ranmaru feels like Ginji doesn’t care for him anymore. So it was a heartfelt moment when they found the Hourai Gem Tree, and it made me so happy to the point I cried when Ginji took Ranmaru into his arms and hugged him. It was icing on the cake the see them cuddle in their adorable pup forms. I am sure, once the ceremony is completed, the two of them will finally be able to have a proper talk together.
What I really loved about this episode though was how this quest didn’t need a bunch of dramatic fights to leave an impact. Instead it was more about giving the opportunity for Ranmaru in particular to learn that Ginji still cares for him deeply. It broke my heart in a million pieces when Ranmaru commented how he felt Ginji would be happier if he were dead (DON”T SAY THAT!!!!!). I also loved we got to see more of Ranmaru’s vulnerable side of how much he loves Princess Iso, he was completely bewitched by her presence. Had it not been for Ginji and Aoi, he would have walked right off the cliff and died! Ironically it was Aoi who fell, but Ranmaru did the good thing and saved her,and risked his life for it by taking on his Beast form (that puts them in danger because it causes them to lose too much of their spiritual power, which means it could kill them). Even Ranmaru acknowledged that had he not eaten her sandwiches earlier, he probably would have died. It appears that Ogre Fire have also contributed to them surviving the fall, since I don’t know how long Ranmaru was able to maintain his form before reverting to a puppy.
Actually speaking of the Ogre Fire, this almost makes me wonder if Oodanna did show up (but kept himself hidden until the last minute). The main reason why I am considering that is because we have seen instances where the Ogre Fire has led him to Aoi, but hasn’t actually done anything to protect her. Sure she has Ai now, so maybe Ai’s power was able to protect them, but I don’t think Ai is strong enough yet to do that. Needless to say, I didn’t expect him to see him at all this week, as I fully understood this was a mission designed specifically for Ginji and Ranmaru to help them move forward. So naturally, I was shocked when he suddenly appeared under the Hourai Gem Tree! There was no fog (at least initially, perhaps it was created by the gusts of Byakuya’s communication ticket), so my reaction was, “WAIT WHAT, WHAT IS HE DOING HERE?! WHAT IS HAPPENING?!” But what really caught me off guard was how he spoke! Neither illusions of Princess Iso spoken to Ginji nor Ranmaru, so what is going on?! Regardless, whether he was the real deal or not, hearing Oodanna give Aoi those words of encouragement, that hit me right in the feels. MY HEART! No matter what, he is always supporting her, empowering her to do what she can do on her own. And that is why they are my OTP!!!!!!!
I really loved the conversation Aoi and Ranmaru were able to have together, especially about Princess Iso and Ginji. By losing her taste, she can understand to some extent the pain of being unable to fullfill the promise they ahve made with Princess Iso. I also loved how Ranmaru allowed himself to be vulnerable in front of Aoi, and not afraid to cry a bit, and was even surprised she was crying about it too. I look forward to the bond and friendship that will undoubtedly be formed between them.
Aoi had finally mustered up the courage to confront Ginji about him being the Mystery Akayashi from her past, but unfortunately for her, she was interupted by the crisis of both Ginji and Ranmaru facing the illusion of Princess Iso. Aoi was able to protect Ginji, but they realized that Ranmaru is on his own so the conversation was quickly forgotten. Unfortunately for us and Aoi, it seems we won’t be able to have a proper conversation about it until after the ceremony, which is probably for the better considering you’d think Oodanna should be around for it. Needless to say, I do wonder how the conversation is going to come up, and whether or not Ginji had properly heard her, (before seeing Princess Iso’s illusion), or if he will speak to Oodanna about it before they talk to Aoi. If he did hear her and his first reaction was based off that, then it makes me wonder if perhaps they had believed she really had forgotten them, or at least her memories were not clear enough to remember the specific details (such as the Promise of Marriage, which has only surfaced last week).
Although the lack of consequences of Aoi losing her taste disappointment many people, this week made it a lot more clear that while Raiju sealed away her taste in attempt to sabotage the ceremony, since Aoi still has her sense of smell, and is a seasoned cook, even without taste, she at least knows how to cook some things that she knows by heart. It is more of an issue when it comes to providing new recipes, where she will need to rely on others to describe and give her feedback on the taste of the dishes. And we are about to see her get involved again now that the Crane Twins are asking her to do it, as originally planned.
However I am curious to see if Aoi intends to switch some things up in regards to the dishes they had originally planned. There was a reason for them to have found the texts about Daidarabocchi (Umi-Bouzu, the curse), where it explained how it was a monster who manages impurities, and was born between the conflicts of Humans and Yokai in the eternal realm. When he became hard to handle, the humans confined him to the enclosed space in the furthest side of the ocean. The first thing the crossed Aoi’s mind when she heard that, was wonder what it meant by “confining him”. Indeed, how is he confined? Somehow Umi-Bouzu ends up coming to the Southern Lands, and varying on how the ceremony goes, the results of his presence will vary. Regardless, I think one of the most important details about Umi-Bouzu, is how he manages impurities. This is where Aoi’s cooking is probably going to play the most crucial role. It is more than just creating a dish made out of the Oceans’ Treasures, it is also creating a meal that could help heal Umi-Bouzu, cleanse him of the impurities, just as it had when Ranmaru was suffering from them after coming back from the Dragon Palace. Of course, Ginji’s and Ranmaru’s roles will as always be the most important, but I wouldn’t be surprised if (thanks to Aoi’s ability of creating such healing dishes), contributed to an even bigger role for this ceremony, making it different from the rest. But we will have to see what will become of it, I am for one excited to see how this ceremony will go. The question now, with two episodes left, will Raiju make a return to try to spoil the process once more? Or he did decide it wasn’t worth dealing with Byakuya and officially withdrawn from the event (not that he is needed anymore).
Although they have showed us what the Hourai Gem Branch actually looks like a bit earlier, I still wasn’t sure what to expect of it. But now since we have seen how the branch evolved into a tree, I am actually quite glad Aoi’s hairpin didn’t turn out to be the final piece. What did surprised me was how it turned out the shell Oodanna had found at the beach, was actually a petal from the Hourai Gem Tree! They start off as delicate liquid form, and once they drop off, they become clam shells (it was quite funny seeing Chibi collect the goods ahaha!) It makes me wonder if by any chance Oodanna knew it came from the Hourai Gem Tree. Perhaps he did, as I imagine he must have seen it before the Great Youto fire, or else he may have seen it while traveling across realms. It is something I wonder if Aoi will bring up, or maybe she will keep it to herself, especially how she had seen him under the tree as she left.
Actually there has been a theory that has been in the back of my mind for a while now, so I guess this is a good time to share it. I have been wondering if perhaps Oodanna was originally from the Eternal Realm. Although there are texts about the realm, such as the one they have found in Nuinoin’s library cabin, Oodanna knows so much about the Curse of the Southern Lands, and even of the Eternal Realm, that I can’t help but wonder if he was born there. Of course it has already been established how he travels across multiple realms, but you get the point (or maybe that would explain how he ended up traveling to the Hidden Realm in the first place before settling there).
In all, after last week’s mishaps with the pacing and underwhelming turn of events, this episode was so much better and an absolutely pleasure to watch. I think it’s really important to remember, what makes Kakuriyo such a good show is not just the authentic slow burn romance, but the characters and their relationship with one another. Their stories are all so special and interesting and that’s really the true charm of the series, and this episode did an excellent job of reminding us just that. I do want to make a quick note about the music this episode! It sounded so familiar to me, and I was trying to figure out where I heard it from, and then finally, I realized, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild! I can’t remember the exact track name, but it really does sound familiar. I really do love the instruments used in the track, it’s such a soothing sound!!!! Actually speaking of the music, I am shocked that Ranmaru’s Character Song wasn’t featured this week! Maybe they are saving it for next week? I would also love to point out how visually stunning this episode was as well. The contrast of the monochrome terrains and the colors of life was pleasing to the eye!
Two more episodes left, and now my excitement for the next episodes are now mixed with sadness. It is a bittersweet process. I know I have been saying it almost every week now, but I am really not ready for it to be over, at all! ; A ; This is the show I look forward to the most every week, and Mondays are going to feel terribly empty without it. Although I understand the anime hasn’t been exactly getting favourable reception (most of its flak it is receiving has to do with the poor and inconsistent animation quality for much of the series), I do hope the book sales at least may be enough to give it a push for a second season, unless they had originally planned to do it from the start, since Volume 9 of the novel is coming out in October. According to fans who have read the novels, it doesn’t appear like they are going down an Anime Original ending, which certainly leaves the door open for the possibility of more to come in the future. I definitely feel like this series needs a second season, especially given how there is much of the story that needs to shared– in particular Oodanna’s character that many fans desires to know more about. Unfortunately, the novels have yet to be licensed and officially translated in English (but fan-translations are in the works! So there’s that at least!), so you have to be able to read Japanese if you want to see the rest of the story. Since I don’t have a lot of faith of the novel series being picked up, this series has become my driving force of motivation for my Japanese studies, so I must thank Kakuriyo for giving me that push I needed. <3