I’ve been looking forward to this part in the manga… even if it brought pain. However, it was also hopeful in some major instances for several characters. The first bit of the episode felt a little rushed. Though after some research, apparently they crammed three chapters into this one episode, so no wonder that they kind of had to speed through some things to fit all the content. But I am glad they gave certain parts enough breathing room because they really needed it. There was certainly a lot that happened this episode.
Can we just take a moment to appreciate Hiro’s character development? I know a lot of people can’t stand Hiro, but you can’t deny that the kid has GROWN. Physically and mentally lol. I still wish we got to witness him slowly growing and not all of a sudden a bit taller than Kisa. Bad anime, bad! Just kidding… mostly. But yeah, his bond with his newborn baby sister is just the most precious thing. And just by being around her, helped him mature and admit that yes, he was a complete brat and just a scared, insecure little boy. However, he wants to become a better person and be someone who can protect his little sister. He was always a bit beyond his age and is now finally putting that maturity towards something positive, in bettering himself. We’ve seen him become more aware of others’ feelings and try to change how he reacts little by little. He’s come so far from his introduction in the first season and I appreciate his growth. There was a reason I really liked him in high school lol. I always gravitate towards characters that have so much room to grow and Hiro was no exception.
I’m sure it was such a relief for Hiro to just let everything he’s been forced to keep to himself out. Ranging from Isuzu getting pushed off the balcony, hurting Kisa, EVERYTHING. He’s been holding so much in for some time, things that a kid his age should not be holding onto, that it was probably suffocating him. And if Isuzu had died in the cat’s room, Hiro probably would have blamed himself for it and would have added yet another thing to hold onto, probably for the rest of his life. This poor boy has been hanging onto quite a load of baggage that he was not allowed to put down. And seeing him just allow himself to finally cry after sharing all of this information was just… ugh it hit my little heart.
And then we get the highly anticipated confrontation between Akito and Haru over Isuzu. Which honestly felt like a long time coming with how much Akito despises her would of course come into conflict with how much Haru loves her. However, things end up going in circles for a while because holy crap, Akito was gaslighting the HECK in that situation. She was CONSTANTLY shifting blame onto Haru as we all know, Akito never holds herself accountable for her actions.
However, as terrible as Akito’s gaslighting is, she always seems to make other characters realize things, albeit unintentionally. Like with Yuki and Kyo, they both came to realize how exactly they felt about Tohru and now here with Haru, he realizes just how selfish he was towards Isuzu. I am by no means saying that gaslighting is okay, I just found it interesting that Akito’s attempts to pull the Zodiac members back down, actually helped them introspectively pull further away from her. Ironic, isn’t it?
But man, despite my conflicting feelings for Kureno, he was an absolute superstar this episode. Not only did he tail that maid to find that Isuzu was being confined in the Cat’s Room, but he actually took such a bold step against Akito, telling her that there are some things that are not okay. Took this man long enough to put his foot down when there was a crime committed.
I’ve been dying to talk about the scene where Haru left and just how much it meant for so many characters. The Zodiac bond is such an unnatural force that it even calmed the raging Haru into turning back to return to Akito. His face visibly softened and would have most likely gone back and apologized if not for Kureno. And BOY was it major for Kureno of all people to step in to stop Haru. Especially since Kureno was essentially in Haru’s shoes at one point, but didn’t have anyone to stop him from going back to Akito. Despite Shigure’s harsh words to him over the phone, I think Kureno is finally starting to realize the damage that was done by him staying by Akito’s side and didn’t want Haru to commit the same mistake he did. This was probably the first time that a Zodiac member outright ignored God’s call/demand. Though it ultimately took someone outside the influence to be done. Haru’s defiance could only go so far, but Kureno helped him go further. Though we’ve seen something like this happen before where Yuki and Kyo chose to spend New Years with Tohru instead of going back to the family estate. However, that was like the warm up. We’ve never seen just outright defiance of this nature before in this series and it just feels so poetic.
And if Kureno hadn’t stopped Haru when he did, Isuzu may not have made it…
It seems like Kureno is slowly starting to move away from being an enabler for Akito’s actions. It was probably the combination of Shigure’s harsh truths and finding out that Akito has locked Isuzu away in the cat’s room that probably made him realize, he needs to step in. He could have gotten into SO MUCH trouble, but he finally took a step forward and defied Akito and helped get Isuzu out of there. He was finally abiding by what HE wanted to do rather than what Akito wanted. And I think his confrontation with the head maid made him realize just how much damage he had been causing Akito for enabling her actions. Because if Kureno was an enabler, this maid was a super enabler. It was honestly super disgusting how anything Akito wishes should be carried out and that the Zodiac should live and die for Akito. Woman, who do you think you are?!
Now I know that everyone was probably rooting for Haru to punch Akito, but I really don’t think violence would solve anything. Especially not in this situation. Sure it would be satisfying in the moment, but using violence against Akito just feels like stooping to her level. A true win against Akito would be the Zodiac member leaving her since the bond is what she firmly believes in. And it really was a big win with Kureno making sure Haru didn’t go back to Akito, which left her in utter turmoil.
But poor Isuzu. This girl just cannot catch a break. It was honestly really sweet of her in a way to go after Kureno for making Tohru cry. Their friendship is great. Unfortunately, that lead her into crossing paths with Ren who made a deal with her to go steal a box from Akito. Because of course that would go well. The scene were Akito just cuts through Isuzu’s hope of breaking the curse by silently coming in was CHILLING. The way she just cut through the music and brought a foreboding presence. TERRIFYING. We knew Akito had an unnatural attachment to whatever was inside the box since apparently her father is inside. And we also knew that Akito despised Isuzu with a passion so it was only natural that Akito would go way beyond in punishing her, which lead her to imprisoning Isuzu inside the Cat’s room, cutting her hair and essentially leaving her to die in there.
Also on an extra note, Isuzu’s cut hair was left a lot longer than it was depicted in the manga. Which I found interesting, but I can kind of figure what they’re going for and I’ll probably talk about it in the next episode.
And finally… FINALLY I can talk about how Ren is just complete garbage. I’ve been holding it in for a while now, but just like Hiro, Imma let it all out. I won’t go too into her relationship with Akito, since we haven’t covered the true extent of what went on with those two. We’ve only scratched the surface on that, but I can say that it’s mostly because of her that created the monster that Akito has become. But what I really want to touch upon is just how completely terrible she was to Isuzu. Not only did she send Isuzu out on basically a suicide mission for her, but she promised to tell her how to break the curse… when she didn’t even know anything about it and even admitted to not even liking Isuzu. But the thing that pissed me off the most, was finding out that she was literally the one who instigated the collapse of Isuzu’s home life. Ren probably knew that Isuzu’s parents were nearing a breaking point and basically decided to ruin this small child’s life by planting that seed of “why are your parents so happy” in Isuzu’s head. Going back to that episode, it showed Isuzu talking to Ren before asking her parents why they’re so happy all the time. This garbage of a human being just caused years of pain and trauma for a child just because she didn’t like her for literally no reason. Complete garbage, get her out!
However, Isuzu finally gets a semblance of happiness and a hopeful future with Haru. The fact that he told her “welcome home” must have been something she had been waiting to hear for so long. Considering how she was never able to feel safe going home to her parents after they snapped, was chased out of said home, didn’t feel like she belonged at Kagura’s house, she was never able to feel like she belonged anywhere. So her replying by saying “I’m home” just hit really hard because she finally found a place she could return to and feel safe and comfortable after such a long time of aimless wandering. I also just love the visuals of them leaving behind their past selves, showing how much they’ve grown from then. SUCH GOOD SYMBOLISM.
This episode was A LOT. There were just too many things to talk about this episode that I felt like I could write about them for days. But I gotta stop while I’m ahead or else I’d probably just end up droning on and on. There were still a lot of things I wasn’t able to touch upon, but I feel like I can save those for a later episode post. Especially since if I touch upon them too early, I may accidentally spoil things… again. There was a noticeable quality drop in the art this episode… which was a bit disappointing since this was a big moment for both Haru and Isuzu. There was a lot of emotion in this episode, but the expressions didn’t quite convey it as hard as I would have liked. I felt like the expressions were pushed a lot more in the manga for this scene. However, that’s only a nitpick as the episode still did an amazing job in adapting this part.