This episode is about as weird as anime comes.
Overview (Spoilers Below)
Joujin continues to try and get Hibiki and Hachirou to smooch and get down and dirty but to no avail. Hachirou continues to resist Joujin’s wishes and through eventually using his eye magic combined with the power of love, manages to remind Hibiki of who she is.
Meanwhile, Rui and Utsutsu take on the mind controlled Shichigen along with Old Man Chiou, whose demon king powers make him a mighty opponent. Initially, the two are able to do a sneak attack and stab him in the back but realize he can make himself recover with his powers. Eventually, Rui breaks Shichigen’s brainwashing by pretending to be his mother. Then, as Chiou tries to tell Shichigen to murder his illusory mother (Rui) Shichigen stabs himself to death with his sword which also fatally wounds Chiou for a reason I don’t truly understand.
Eventually, Chiou is defeated, but Rui and Utsutsu also go down in the process, leaving both the Kouga and Iga clan ninjas dead. Only Namenba remains, who has collected some devices of Gorone’s and has some kind of plan to use them to defeat Joujin.
What the hell did I just watch? This week’s episode was possibly even stranger than last week’s, which is really saying something. As we go deeper into the climax of this troubled, surreal series, it appears that things are only going to get worse. In a way, this makes the show more entertaining by veering into “So bad its good” territory, but that level of silly entertainment doesn’t really break through the bizarre melancholy that most of this series wallows in.
Just from a technical perspective, this episode fails on multiple counts. There are animation errors aplenty, and lots of choppy, awkward character movements and lines. Scenes hold too long on characters delivering their lines so an awkward pause seems to accompany everything they say, while the writing is sometimes barely coherent.
There was a moment that struck me during this episode when Joujin has Hachirou and Hibiki cornered and is trying to make them canoodle; a true moment of confusion. A moment where, though I’ve watched this series from its beginning, I couldn’t really say what these characters wanted, why any of this needed to happen, and how it makes any kind of sense. The story has failed on such a fundamental level by this point that it fails to convey even the most basic information on what is happening on-screen.
Moments like these are accompanied by a genuine awe of some of the bizarre plot developments in these scenes. This show’s obsession with Hibiki and Hachirou’s incestuous feelings for each other completely baffles me, as well as the insane scene of Rui pretending to be Shichigen’s mother and stripping down so he may “Rest on her breast.” It’s maddening to think how and why this episode got made; how no one looked at the steaming garbage fire of this show and thought, “Maybe this isn’t such a good idea.” I know anime can tend to get weird, but this is just ridiculous. A show that’s weird needs to balance its uniqueness with developed characters and good storytelling. Without that, you get the anime equivalent of a VHS “B Movie,” existing only for shock and the possibility of making a curious buck or two.
This episode brings us deeper into the hole that this show is intent on digging itself into. I’ll admit, I have no idea what will happen next, but if I had to guess, I’d say it will probably be completely ridiculous.