Kanna, set the Wayback Machine for twelve episodes ago.
Good morning, dragons! Time for some breakfast before school and work. While Kobayashi sips her morning coffee, Tohru asks about dinner. The programmer responds that she’s up for anything, as long as there’s no dragon tail meat in it. I still don’t get that quirk of Tohru’s. Anyways, the menu is omurice, an example of Western influence on Japanese cuisine. Effectively, a fried rice omelet with chicken. While everyone is away, Tohru throws herself into her cleaning, going on a crusade against dust, disorder, and dirty clothes. Once everything is spotless, and the clothes are on the line, the maid decides she’s going to practice her omurice. Looks professional, smells good, tastes… Average? Something gets a bee in Tohru’s bonnet about this. THIS meal has to be amazing.
At that time, Lucoa happens by with some snacks from a new cafe she was trying. After gobbling them down, Tohru asks her compatriot advice on how to improve the flavor of such a simple dish. Her only tip: use the best ingredients possible. Sounds good. Works for the folks on Iron Chef. So, she rushes down to the market. Looking over her list, and comparing prices, she finds that getting the best ingredients would put her over budget. The organic, free-range, hormone-free, locally grown chicken at her favorite butcher costs almost $6.50 per pound! Wow, she needs to find a cheaper butcher. I get the same thing for $2.99 a pound at mine. The guy is willing to give her a discount on the lower quality chicken, but that crushes all of her fantasies. What fantasies are these? See below.
Kanna gets home from school to find the Tohru has gotten her hands on some… are those ingredients for omurice? Eggs from the chicken that wakes the gods? Water from the elves’ fairy spring? Meat and veggies from the demon realms? Well, technically, that would be usable, and the einherjar soldiers would know good food, being from viking heaven. She’s using rice from our world, though. Our superior knowledge of plant husbandry is magical in and of itself. The two dragons work together to make this arcane shopping list into rice omelets that even Amaterasu would drool over. In the meantime, Kobayashi is on her way home on the train. She’s utterly exhausted, but the thought of Tohru slaving over the omurice gives her some joy to look forward to. She remembers that it was the first meal Tohru ever made for her, and she only said it was okay. Perhaps this time, she’ll tell her it is really good. She nods off a bit, and her dreams take her back a year…
Deadline rapidly approaching and her horrendous boss screaming her name almost constantly, Kobayashi’s stress was at an all-time high. On her way home, she stops at a ramen shack and attempts to drown her problems in sake. She even walks away with a huge bottle of “Dragonslayer” sake. She’s so sloshed, she misses her stop and gets off at a forest. Ignoring the sign warning of bear attacks, she stumbles into the sylvan wilds and bumps… into a dragon. Said epic beastie is appalled that the last creature it will ever meet will be a lowly human, and demands she leaves before it eats her. Up to her eyeballs in liquid courage, Kobayashi ignores the dragon’s threats and proceeds to talk up a storm herself. She notices a rather large sword sticking out of the dragon’s flank and decides to pull it out. The dragon protests: If a mere human were to touch the Sword of God, it would destroy their minds. Ever the atheist, Kobayashi applies all her drunken strength to the act, screaming “If God exists, He could at least extend my DEADLINE!”
Apparently, this dragon was of the Chaos faction and was defeated in battle by the forces of God. It escaped to the human world, but if the blade had remained in it, the dragon would have died. Blah, blah, blah! If it’s storytime, then now it’s Kobayashi’s turn. But you can’t just listen to a drunkard’s story. You have to drink with them. That’s the rules. The dragon uses a bit of magic and transforms into a human. A human female. It’s Tohru, if I’ve been too vague. The two drink away their sorrows. They drink until they laugh themselves silly. They laugh until things get real. They both, in their inebriation, come to the same realization about their lives. They’re alone. Alone, and they don’t like it. Kobayashi has a great idea to kill two birds with one stone. Tohru could come live with her! She could be her maid! Strangely, this suggestion strikes a chord with Tohru, and she agrees.
Back from the past, Kobayashi arrives at home to a HUGE omurice. She spots some unsightly ingredients in the sink but eats the meal anyways. Afterward, she kicks herself. She was so busy commenting on how it was made, she neglected to tell Tohru how much she liked it. It’s somewhat okay. Everyone tucks in under the kotatsu to watch some TV show about pets. Kobayashi asks the older dragon if there were any humans in the past that Tohru had been close to. Well, pack a lunch, folks. We’re gonna hitch a ride with Bill and Ted and spy on Tohru’s past.
During her roving days, looking for a place to hide out, she decided to squat on some old ruins with enough room for her. Problem is, there was already a human hanging out there. A bandit girl who was just looking for a place to rest on her journey. Despite Tohru’s half-hearted attempts to threaten and kill the girl, she sees right through the dragon’s actions and wins the right to stay. They chat for a while until one question comes up: What is it like to be free like a dragon? Tohru never thought of herself as free. The war between the Chaos and Harmony factions was all she knew, and she was expected to give her all in fighting it. If that war was suddenly over, or if she were to abandon it, would she be free? What would she do, then? She turns the question back to the bandit. If that bandit was able to do whatever she wanted, what would she do?
Become a maid.
It would be a life of service, but a life that she chose. That is the important thing. The bandit continued her journey, and never saw Tohru again, but a quick aside shows her living the life she dreamed. And here we are, Tohru living the exact same life. A life she chose. The decision she made a year ago in front of a drunken Kobayashi becomes all the more clear.
On the other side of town, in a coffee shop, Elma is studying “Object Oriented Programming for Dummies” when she reaches an interesting observation of her own. She has completely integrated into this world. She’s at home. Of course, what nobody notices is that strange portal opening in the sky. A portal opened by an immense red dragon. A dragon who does not. Look. Happy.
Here it is, the long-awaited story behind why Tohru is so in love with Kobayashi. Moreover, they explain the emotional significance behind it. Honestly, I really loved the writing here. Even the asides began to show how deep the relationships are growing between the humans and the dragons. Shota uses Lucoa to practice exorcisms but gets honestly dismayed when she doesn’t come back. He thinks he banished her for good when really, she was just petting an animal. Takiya comes home through a freak rainstorm to find Fafnir playing games like usual. He demands Takiya’s presence, but there’s a silent kindness there. He had set out a towel and a dry set of clothes for Takiya to come home to. These small things may seem meaningless, but again, as we remember from this week’s Masamune-kun’s Revenge, it’s the little things that really show people we love them. We also get a hint at a new dragon. Perhaps this is the dreaded father of whom Tohru has fearfully whispered. Perhaps he’s here to take her back and force her into the war. Or maybe just… kill Kobayashi… I don’t know, just theorizing.
Art was solid, I have to say. There was a number of different styles being used to portray various tones, and I laughed internally at Tohru’s shojou daydreams. The animation didn’t have anything special, but there weren’t any hasty shortcuts either. Voice acting is spot on, especially for Tohru. There is quite a bit of her story revealed, and it has a bunch of emotion behind it. Jad Saxton has done a great job this episode.