It’s guy love. Between two (or more) guys.
Itsuki starts looking for a possible thirteenth maiden, though Mana keeps nudging the likelihood of it being a guy. By sheer chance, he keeps running into Seiya, who seems to be slowly becoming more and more attractive to Itsuki for some reason. He tries avoiding him, even suggesting he just try going another round with the girls, but eventually he has to explore all options, including Narcisstes and king Shangri-La. Mana gives him some backstory about how she used to be an impurity that was made into something pure, but the person who made her this way died before they could figure out what to do with her. She was then found by Shangri-La, who decided to protect her, and the rest is history.
Encouraged by this tale of acceptance, they all take a crack at the love ritual aaaaaaaaaand…it was all a prank by Mana to boost the show’s ratings. Well, okay, it was really about broadening Itsuki’s idea of what a maiden is so he’ll have a better time finding the real thirteenth one, who is definitely a girl (but definitely not Alfie). So, this was kind of a complete waste of time.
Well, that…happened. I would qualify this as a breather episode but it really just made me feel more asphyxiated than anything, and not in the fun, erotic way (which is kinda ironic given this show’s whole premise). I guess when you use up twelve girls in eight episodes, you need to fill the remaining time with something, but…this did not seem like the best use of it. Obviously, the problem is not introducing the idea that Itsuki might be gay or bi, but the fact that this is only brought up to help him find another girl and will likely never be used to hint at any other sexual preference is…not a good a look. I don’t mind us getting to know the other non-maiden characters while we have the time to do so, seeing how Narcisstes and Seiya are so one-note I actually forgot what their names were, but…
…Look, there was a kernel of a good idea nestled within this mess, and it comes with the brief talk Itsuki and Mana has about her past. Her backstory is actually kind of interesting, given the nature of the mission is to defeat impurities, not train them, so Mana is a pretty unique case. Her being a former impurity would go quite a long way in explaining her sex-crazed nature, and might even explain of a better way to defeat them. There’s also a little bit of subtlety in how unenthusiastic she was to suggest Shangri-La as a man-maiden candidate to Itsuki now that we know he’s the one who protected and accepted her instead of trying to kill her. We could have gotten a whole flashback episode about how he was a previous visitor and decided to stay to become king, which would at least have given him more character than the cardboard we currently have AND make Mana WAY more sympathetic!
But instead, we got this nonsense that is very unlikely to add anything and may have eaten up time for a potentially decent story next week, but we’ll cross that bridge when coming to it. For now, the mystery remains on who the thirteenth maiden could be, and why the heck they are pretending to not know that we know that they know that we know it’s Alfie. The fourth wall has sure taken a lot of punishment over the past couple decades, but it still deserves more respect than this.