Infighting breaks out between Itaku and Kubinashi on the ship’s deck, and just when it looks as if near legendary Stringer of Joshu has the upperhand Itaku unveils his other form. And at this point in Kyouto, Hagoromo-Gitsune has broken the second seal and released Tsuchigumo who chooses to take a path of neutrality. Staying with her group so long as he gets a good fight out of it, and so Hagoromo-Gitsune’s side grows stronger once more.
Back on the boat the fight between Kubinashi and Itaku rages on but it’s none other than Rikuo’s Zen who smacks some sense into them, who ignoring his frail condition has chosen to tag along to support his sworn brother even if it means his death. However just when it seems that the fighting is over, the ships are surrounded by Hagoromo-Gitsune’s gatekeeper Hakuzozu, but while his forces could have annihilated them with ease he refuses to attack until they state their names and intentions. Proving himself to be a rather chivalrous Youkai.
Facing the members of Rikuo’s Hyakki-Yakou with a tough choice, do they just let their heir step forward and possibly get himself killed? But while they’re unsure of the matter, Rikuo has already stepped forward to introduce himself and face him in single combat. Dodging blow after blow of Hakuzozu’s spear and realising that a battle between Youkai is one of deception, like people trying to scare each other in a haunted house. And as they watch on Amezou explains what his Fear is to Kubinashi, who sees it as the splitting image of his father’s. Reminding him of how he told him why he wanted Rikuo to choose between living as a human or a Youkai, seeing how his Youkai blood is thinner as a representation of the future.
By now Rikuo has managed to shatter Hakuzozu’s spear and the gatekeeper now asks that he cut off his head and end it, taking the chance to write a death poem only to mess it up. But instead Rikuo simply gives him a smack with his training stick and tells him that he’s taking a liking to him, wanting him to live a new life in his Hyakki-Yakou. However with Hakuzozu’s defeat his forces already think of him as a dead man and the one to seize control of them isn’t as chivalrous, choosing just to bring the ships crashing to the ground. Forcing Rikuo’s group to attempt to wait it out until dawn, but as Kyoto waits in the distance the heavy miasma that now envelops the city, nothing changes.
It only took him around eleven episodes but it’s good to see that Rikuo has finally arrived where all the action is happening, if only a little too late. Though while I didn’t think that this episode was exciting as some of the past ones it was still all right, we got some good fights out of it, some great development on Kubinashi’s part, and another look at the enigmatic Rihan.
As even though he may not be all that mysterious, there’s still just something interesting about him, in the way that characters who’ve either disappeared or been dead for some time prior to the events at hand always tend to have in a show. With those looks into the past through the eyes of those who were around them, and the things that they remember them saying or doing painting the picture of who they were. In Rihan’s case showing his opinions on coexistence by how he wanted Rikuo to choose how he would live, feeling that the world was growing brighter. And at the same time it also served to develop Kubinashi as well, from the things we’ve heard him say and seen him do whenever someone makes light of the Nura clan, it doesn’t take much to see that he was adamantly loyal to Rikuo’s father. And just how this loyalty came about being something I’m interested to see.
That aside it was also great to see Zen come back into the picture, Rikuo’s sworn brother and the first true member of his Hyakki-Yakou. As even if he won’t serve much use in a fight at this point and his frail condition may get in the way, he’s still a pretty cool character, with some pretty fun interactions with Rikuo, and he kind of needs a medic on his team considering how far he’s going. Not to mention that he was left behind when Rikuo went off with everyone to clash with Tamazuki, something he was admittedly pissed about. But what probably makes me so glad to see him back is the scene that should show up in a few more episodes, but for now I won’t really talk about it much.
Finally despite how Hagoromo-Gitsune may have just broken the second seal, without much standing in her way of the next one, it still feels as if the battle is just getting started. That if anything these past eleven episodes have been a prologue to the main conflict and what’s at hand, that after pretty much stomping her way to the end the show’s logo popped up and it funally began. Or at least that was the impression I got from the way she bought Tsuchigumo to her side and we got a formal introduction to her various retainers and even herself. But speaking of Tsuchigumo, so far he comes across as a potentially cool antagonist, the sort who manages some neutrality and doesn’t really care about what’s going on as long as he gets a good fight out of it.