The second episode was quite a disappointment for me for various reasons. First would be the drop in the quality of animation compared to the first episode. The characters’ visual at certain scenes were not drawn as good as before. I won’t called it horrible, but when compared to previous episode, it’s not that good. I thought, since it’s a 3-episodes OVA, the animation quality would stay consistent. Too bad, this episode showed it wasn’t the case, and now I’m worried how the third and final episode would be.
The story also didn’t excited me as before. In the previous episode, Okita was worried sick for Chizuru and in this episode, he was still determined to find and save Chizuru to the point of skipping his meals, which didn’t go unnotice by the others. When it was finally the time for the rescue mission, he was only shown attacking Kazama who was mistaken as an ally of the Tosa ronins (Not surprising since he already made an attempt to kidnap Chizuru before). I thought that the first episode would be some sort of build up of Okita playing an important role in rescuing Chizuru, but instead he was denied that moment. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing that Kazama came to Chizuru’s rescue, it just it made all those moments Okita worrying over Chizuru and determination to rescue her became pointless. At least the part when Okita patted Chizuru’s head was cute. He didn’t tease her like usual, which was another evidence how concerned he was and happy that she was safe.
Concerning Okita, I also like to see how Saito was worried for him in his cool and calm way. He gave Okita foods and insisted he eat because it was Hijikata’s order, but it’s obvious that Saito himself was also worried for Okita’s well-being and this was his way to tell Okita to take care of himself better if he wished to save Chizuru. And then Hijikata, our Demon Vice-Commander, finally spoke to Kondou and in a rare moment began to lose his cool. In the previous episode, he refrained from making Chizuru and Sakai’s disappearance public due to their position as the Shogun’s escort. But now, Hijikata has slowly began to lose his patience, wanting to save his comrades despite how it would affect the Aizu Domain. His decision to accept Itou’s help, who was from the opposing faction and clearly the person he dislike for various reasons, proved that Hijikata has grown as desperate as Okita in wanting to save Chizuru and Sakai. When the moment finally came for them, Hijikata didn’t waste anymore time and quickly led the charge himself.
I have mixed feeling about Kazama, Sen, Sano, and Heisuke’s role in the episode. I was grateful that Kazama saved Chizuru and ruined Kaoru’s plan to take her away, but as I said above, his presence also caused Okita’s opportunity to shine to disappear. Instead of being the one who saved Chizuru, Kazama could’ve became an obstacle in some way and added salt to the wound by pointing out their failure in protecting Chizuru. But it didn’t mean I don’t like Kazama being there. It’s still satisfying to see Kazama easily saw through Kaoru’s disguise and even best him. Unfortunately, his confrontation with Kaoru was too short. I had expected Kaoru to put up more fight.
Next were Sano, Heisuke, and Sen. While it’s obvious that Sano and Heisuke were worried for Chizuru and frantically looking for as well, it didn’t have much significance like it did with Okita. I found the moment when Sano and Heisuke hugging each other in desperation to fight the cold funny, but their presence in the episode felt more simply for the sake of providing a bit comedic relief and also to give an excuse for Sen to have something to do so she could appear. In regards about Sano and Sen, I respect Sano for not trying to make excuses for Chizuru’s disappearance and just took Sen’s anger in stride. If you ask me, their failure was already punishment enough, and if Chizuru die, it’ll be something they’ll regret for the rest of their life.
On the plus side, we got to see a flashback of Kaoru and Chizuru’s childhood. In the game, it’s rare to see flashback of Chizuru’s past (more cute child Chizuru please! She’s such a cute cinnamon roll!). It usually only told through the person’s words alone. And from this reminiscence, we could see how a kind older brother he was in the old days and feel how much Kaoru wished for them to return to those peaceful days where they could be together as a family. It’s hard not to sympathize no matter how much I dislike Kaoru.
Lastly but not the least, was Sakai. Seriously, I’m truly wondering why he’s even here! He’s largely forgotten! I don’t think Hijikata and the others forgot Sakai, but they more than often mentioned only Chizuru’s name when doing their search. The poor guy was made to drink Water of Life and now must endure the torture of his body gradually changing him into a blood-thirsty creature. I couldn’t imagine how much he’s suffering both physically and mentally. How his fate would end in the next episode is clear. It has been expected, so the episode should focus on Sakai more, so we can care more about him and it’ll give more impact once everyone confronted him as a Fury. I truly felt sorry for Sakai’s condition and situation. (TT_TT)
The next episode would be the last one of the OVA. Seeing the quality of this episode, I won’t give much expectation for the last episode for the sake of my heart.