The attempt to retake Shiraishi commences.
A lot happens in this episode, from Shiraishi being rescued, Tsurumi’s new officer from Satsuma, Koito, and Shirashi being welcomed back by Sugimoto, but most importantly comes Sugimoto’s PTSD.
We see now that Tsurumi’s offer did affect him a little bit, because he understands where Tsurumi is coming from, as a fellow former soldier. He doesn’t agree, and still considers Tsurumi to be his enemy, but he has an understanding of why they’re acting in a certain way. According to Sugimoto, one has to become a monster in order to fight in and survive war, and sometimes there’s no turning back from that monster. To continue to fight is hard, as it involves actively dehumanizing your enemies, and perpetuating violence in order to not be killed yourself. The Seventh Division, Sugimoto guesses, hasn’t been able to come back from their wartime experiences, and are still in the middle of the war, even after it’s over. This is a pretty fair assessment of the situation, as being unable to be recognized as veterans and welcomed back into society is what caused Tsurumi to rebel. War still goes on, one way or another.
They also discuss food again, where Sugimoto reminisces about dried persimmons that he hasn’t had since before the war. He used to eat with the people that he cared for, but those are times long gone and he’s a different person now. Asirpa’s question of wondering if he’d return to who he once was if he tries persimmons again comes as a melancholy one- she knows that Sugimoto misses who he once was, and is still stuck in wartime. He’s helping her, but she wants to help him as well; she wants to see him grow out of his wartime mentality, and maybe settle down. She wants to see what made him happy back when he was still living a normal life, and experience some of that happiness herself.
It’s a close moment that really shows how close they’ve become. Their relationship is one that’s genuinely warm and caring. As we’ve found out, Sugimoto isn’t interested in the gold for his sake anymore, he’s looking for it purely for Asirpa’s sake, to reunite her with her tribe’s gold. He cares mostly for Asirpa, runs after her, makes sure that she’s safe, because they have developed a genuine bond. It’s one of the major highlights of the series, and nothing really highlights their closeness more than this scene.