Man, this episode was something. I would say this is definitely had some of the most disturbing scenes we have seen of the entire series so far. I am also quite relieved where they line drew the line, and how the subject of sexual assault was handled. Given the nature of their Goddess Ishtar, and the way they do business, it didn’t come across as being cheaply used, but rather highlighted the horrors that transpire in the shadows of this particular environment—- not that it didn’t make it any less sickening and uncomfortable to watch.
The first instance of this was with Phryne feeling up Bell. We have already heard about how this familia goes as far as kidnapping men, and given her reputation among her peers, I already had an awful feeling about her ways. And sure, enough her definition of “fun” is essentially torture, drugging and assaulting them to the brink of death. So it’s an understatement why I deathly feared for Bell. I absolutely did not want him to go through that. Hell, I thought it was already bad enough that she was already touching him, but it absolutely disgusting and horrific when she said she was going to give him a drug that would make him like a rabbit in the heat—NOPE NOPE nOPE NOPE! Hearing that made me physically ill. I never ever ever want to hear Bell’s nickname be used in that context, NEVER! [SHUDDERS] Thank goodness for our dear angel Haruhime for rescuing him before he gone through anything worse than what he already had to face.
The second instance was when learned about Aisha’s backstory, of how the consequence she had to face when she had prevented the Killing Stone Ritual from being carried out the first time. While I am glad I am right about Aisha’s good intentions, I was equally as horrified and heartbroken what had happened to her. Aisha’s backstory revealed precisely what makes Ishtar such a terrifying and ruthless Goddess. After being beaten close to death by Phryne, Ishtar assaulted her, and was conditioned into no longer being able to defy her. This is why she told her story to Bell and Mikoto. It was her way of imploring them to save Haruhime on her behalf. There is no doubt she was disappointed to see Bell (and Mikoto) had lacked the resolve and courage to make the decision on the spot to fight for Haruhime right then and there, so that’s why she called him a coward, and declared war on Hestia’s Familia as well. Had Bell been put in this position during the first season, I think he would have acted on the impulse. But since he has experienced what it’s like to have to fight a powerful Familia like Apollo’s, he has learned that it’s not wise to jump the gun, especially since they are facing a huge numbers disadvantage.
Speaking of wars between Familias, while Ishtar intends to go at it with Freya, (whose familia’s power rivals her own), it’s about to get a lot more messy and complicated with both Hestia’s and Take’s Familia joining the mix. Since Take knows Haruhime as well, now it’s personal, especially since Hestia told him about the Killing Stone Ritual.
As I feared, Haruhime is meant to be the sacrificial lamb for the Killing Stone Ritual. The Killing Stone Ishtar had commissioned Hermes to bring her is a forbidden magic item, which requires to to transfer and seal away the soul of a Renard in order to obtain incredible power. Having the stone gives you access to powerful Renard magic known as Youtsuji. It’s a powerful magic that can be used as a buff, such as Haruhime’s ‘Level Boost’. This is the buff that she used on Aisha was the same that spurred the complaints from various Guilds and overwhelmed Bell and Mikoto. The stone as a whole is so powerful, that even a single fragment of the Killing Stone would enable the wielder to use Youjutsu. It appears, Ishtar intends to shatter it so she can distribute it among her children, using this as her leverage when they fight Freya’s Familia. But as one would expect, once it’s shattered, the soul cannot be restored, which means Haruhime would be gone for good.
And much to everyone’s luck: It just so happens tonight, is the full moon.
This is why I can’t imagine Take and his familia wouldn’t try to get involved, so I suspect we will see the usual trio coalition between Hestia, Take, Miach and possibly Ryuu as well should they call upon her. (Man do I love these Familias together, what a group they make!)
Overall, dark undertones and all, this episode was absolutely fantastic. What a build up to yet another war between Familias! The fighting sequence between Aisha and Bell in the beginning of the episode was such a treat to the eyes. Yes it was brutal, but boy was the animation good! This was the kind of sequences I had expected from the Bells’ rematch against Hyakinthos during the War Game. But given the scale of the war that’s about to abrupt between the familias, it would make sense why they would prioritize the quality and resources for this arc instead.