*Gasp* It’s friday! A friday where I have just dealt with a bunch of deadlines, and happen to have no classes! Well there’re a bunch more deadlines impatiently waiting for me in the coming week and I am very much aware that not starting on them right now may very well cost me my life, but – it’s blog now or never! So if after this I am never heard of ever again, remember: I did it for j00!! :)
Anyway, I had watched – and wanted to blog – this episode for a good long time now. While it doesn’t look like it’ll come up to anything really extraordinary, this show is nonetheless proving to be pretty darn great fun, with it’s neat combination of conversation, personality, swords and romance. Anyway, so here goes nothing. Hope this one doesn’t end up taking as long as my last post on Katanagatari…
Amidst the forward development of the plot, this episode is in large part a rather fun exploration of Togame and Shichika. I found this scene pretty funny
So Shichika is actually unable to tell his lover apart from a random girl off the street! Pretty ridiculous by most standards, and one might be led to think that this guy, who had been identifying Togame only by her height(!) cannot possibly be serious about his claim of having fallen for her. Things get interesting as we move along though.
Unexpectedly and seemingly completely arbitrarily, here comes Togame’s elusive cross-shaped sharingan. Of the mere twice it chose to appear this episode, it decided to make it’s first appearance here in the kimono shop.
Anyway, coming out from the kimono shop Shichika addresses his nakedness by changing into some admittedly better looking gear. Gear that nonetheless, far as I can tell, leaves him just about as naked as he was before. Togame seems (grudgingly) acceptant of it though.
Togame: What’s up with that getup.
Shichika: I’m not naked so it’s fine isn’t it?
Togame: I suppose it qualifies as original, and you could say it’s chic […]
Togame: But I’m not a fan of it.
Shichika: I don’t really get this like or dislike stuff
Pretty interesting peek into the two’s personality contrast there. Togame is very observant of surface level things and aesthetics, it’s almost implied that she’s fine with this new getup because it looks more presentable even though it’s ‘nakedness level’ is about the same as Shichika’s original garb. Shichika on the other hand is very utilitarian – clothes are something you use, so as long as it works what’s there to like and dislike?
Swordsmen are most helpless during mid-draw. With that insight, Shichika makes short work of the two n00b thugs. Interestingly, Togame asked to spare them when Shichika wanted to simply slay them.
The weird habits you can cultivate in a month. I’m really not sure how effective this ‘training’ is going to be. Well, I guess it could possibly be a setup for a plot twist where Togame gets her hair cut off or something. Again notable though, is that while Togame, who obviously engineered the ‘training’, couldn’t help blushing occasionally at the intimate contact, Shichika goes about it with a mechanical pragmatism. Even though this is the girl he likes.
Argh. Are annoying ninja’s gonna be some sort of trend in this show? Fortunately Ginkaku Zerosens him in two almost immediately for us. Distance management is a fundamental in the fighting arts. Confident too or careless too either are you, ninja talk-reverse annoying.
Togame: Incidentally there are other ninja’s with far stronger personalities than Koumori you know?
Togame: Just among the ones I know, let’s see, there’s a ninja called Shirasagi who speaks backwards.
Shichika: So what point is there in that?
Togame: He’s trying his utmost not to be boring
They sure manage to stay talkative despite being in the midst of walking through a dessert. And while I have said that Shichika is a really forthright fellow Togame sure doesn’t hold back with her thoughts either. I guess this does make her somewhat ‘cute’. Her thoughts also again demonstrate that Togame finds herself constantly concerned with fluffery sorts of things (though I can’t believe she appreciated those two unsavory ninjas’ styles…). In contrast with Shichika of course, who’s all “hey I beat the guy, that’s what’s important right?”.
Freak on a leash. Tsk tsk tsk. If Shichika’s infatuation for Togame has been questionable up till now, Togame sure isn’t playing the part of a considerate partner herself. I guess she never did say she was in love with the guy. Well, at least she’s forthright about her intentions I guess :)
Shichika: Does she intend to continue this pointless conversation the whole way there?
Togame:..I didn’t think too much on the next one but
Shichika: Ah whatever that one’s fine! Let’s go with that!
Shichika: I said that one’s fine. Yeah! It’s got a great feel.
Togame: This is fine? That’s somewhat unexpected. [..]
Togame: Well, it is certainly a work I am proud of.
Last episode’s “missing the point” game gets smoothly carried over. Togame seems completely oblivious to the very likely possibility that he just wanted to end that ‘pointless conversation’.
Togame: (smiling radiantly) You can go ahead and thank me you know.
Shichika: You just completely made my day.
Togame: I see I see. If you liked it then that’s great.
Togame: Though because of your pickyness this conversation dragged much longer than I expected.
These two have serious communication problems :)
They eventually arrive. But they of course do not proceed directly into the castle, lingering awhile more for the obligatory long conversation. Damn you Nisio Isin!
Togame: To think a Maniwani head was taken down so easily..
Shichika: Hey, I took down a Maniwani head too you know.
Togame: In your case you were just blessed with luck weren’t you.
More Shichika bashing. But something is becoming increasingly noticeable by this point – they never for once talked about the grim battle they had dead ahead and the glaring danger it represents. They talk about everything around it – the efficiency of the Maniwani folks, the possibility that Ginkaku might have turned tail – but it becomes increasingly clear that Togame has absolute, implicit confidence that her companion would defeat Ginkaku when push comes to shove.
Togame: Shichika, I am actually glad this happened. I have something interesting to write in my report now [..] To be able to report that we took the Deviant Blade from the swordsman who cut down Maniwa Shirasagi the traitor. How satisfying!
Eventually Shichika must have felt something of Togame’s faith in him. The two reach a nice resonance, more beautiful for its rareness, in this scene outside the looming castle.
Togame: For that matter Shichika, would you have me write such an uncool thing as us turning tail even though we’re so well prepared?
Shichika: I see. That certainly is positive.
Shichika: This is why I fell for you.
Lingering a little longer on this, recall that in episode one, Shichika first articulated his love for Togame after realizing who she really is and understanding her wishes and goals. Throughout this episode he has been acting rather un-lover-like – until this point where they managed a rare thought-synchrony. We could wonder if Shichika really understood the guttural aspects of romantic love, but it seems pretty clear that Shichika was never quite in love with Togame’s form – what she looks like. He was in love with Togame’s spirit – who she is.
Alright, finally in the castle! It’s interesting to note that Togame’s obsession with surface aesthetics has also resulted in her being a careful observer of courtesy and honor-codes. She also seems to be rather avoidant towards death – after sparing the thugs earlier, she does seem to try genuinely to also spare Ginkaku and avoid bloodshed. She even went along with the latter’s somewhat cowardly request to step into the room, despite having sensed danger.
Ginkaku himself is thankfully a much cooler villain than talkative ninja-guy last time round, with an interesting technique that does not include emitting projectiles hidden deep in the digestive system. Note the way he anticipates a good battle, and how disappointed he looked when Shichika deliberately postponed their duel. Subtle indications that he is addicted to his sword?
Back outside for more… conversation :) And man, that training thing has really developed into a nightly habit now hasn’t it. Anyway, combat-related analysis (which were cool) aside, here are some interesting lines.
Shichika: Even if we give up on luring him out, I still have a plan.
Shichika: If you have to challenge your opponent from the front, then challenge him from the front.
Togame: Shichika, if that is your conclusion, I’m going to be angry.
Shichika: You’ve been angry this whole time haven’t you?
Here we go with the ‘missing the point’ game again – Togame’s obviously worried about the guy, but he misses it as usual. But here’s what he said next.
Shichika: You know, just winning today doesn’t guarantee we’ll win tomorrow.
Shichika: Unlike with Koumouri, I can’t just win by luck this time.
Togame probably only meant the ‘win by luck’ thing as a jab, but Shichika has obviously given everything his companion told him very serious thought. These two go through most of the show so far looking like a very unlikely couple, but on a handful of key occasions they do each in their own way betray a hint of deep appreciation for each other – although ironically they themselves are usually unaware of it. Subtlety in romance, what can I say, I like it! :) We could certainly use a lot more these in anime.
The final miss-the-point is a massive troll :) Before returning to the castle, Shichika asks Togame to stand behind him during the duel, as ‘insurance’.
Togame: I’m sure you already know, I have no skills to cover your back with.
Shichika: That’s not what I meant.
Shichika: I don’t know how to properly express it, but I’d like you to do this.
Shichika: Basically, people with something to protect are strong.
It felt like a sweet thing to say when you first hear it, if you interpreted it as “I will be stronger with you standing behind me”.
As it turned out though, he really wanted Togame behind him to act as a foothold to launch himself directly above Ginkaku. Ouch! That must’ve hurt. The person who was strong because he had something to protect was not Shichika but Ginkaku.
Shichika merely recognized this and realized he would need a backup plan – an ‘insurance’, which was Togame for him to execute his second strategy. Boy did it piss the poor girl off. The duel itself was pretty well conceived and portrayed, and I must say it’s been awhile since I’ve seen a duel so focused on technique analysis and clever strategy. My favorite part of it though, and arguably my favorite moment in the entire episode, is this:
Shichika: Alright, let’s get with it.
Ginkaku: Yeah. Zerosen is ready to go anytime.
Ginkaku: I’ll have you witness the Zerosen that surpasses the speed of light.
Ginkaku: And if you really have a hidden trick up your sleeve, let me see it too.
Shichika: Sure, I’ll show it to you.
Shichika:However, by that point you’d have already been torn to pieces.
Great stuff! In fact, coming from Shichika the unlearned and unsubtle, that was plain poetry! Great line Shichika, and it again points back to how seriously he takes Togame’s requests. That’ll give her something pretty awesome to write.
Ginkaku eventually and predictably goes out in a suitably flashy fashion, more or less ending the events of this episode. I liked it that they had a nice post-climax conversation though, that traced out the important idea that unlike with talkative ninja-guy last time, Ginkaku’s death was a more merciful one – a release from his long and ceaseless vigil.
And then, almost teasingly, at the very end, Togame’s cross-shaped pupil makes it’s second appearance.
… I still don’t see a pattern.