There’s always time for a festival episode!
Overview (Spoilers Below)
This week’s episode of Katana Maidens has our cast of shrine maidens take part in the time-honored anime tradition of the festival episode. The girls are treated to a break from all their training to bathe and decompress and are even gifted with sets of yukata to wear at the festival from Professor Friedman. The girls have a wonderful day at the festival, filled with delicious junk food, games and celebration.
Of course, even a day at the festival isn’t so simple for toji; the sun soon sets, and the maidens are summoned to the main event of the festival at the shrine on the hill above town. At the shrine, they run into Rui and Richard, who explain to them that at this shrine remains one of the few pieces of noro not controlled by the Origami family, where it is worshiped and prayed to. Professor Friedman takes the time to explain a little more about the dangerous history and properties of noro to Kanami and friends. He explains that the more noro that is gathered in one place, the more intelligent noro will become, which has the potential to create more dangerous and intelligent aradama. The great disaster at Sagami Bay, the destruction of a huge tanker carrying enormous amounts of noro to the United States, was caused by the arrogance of humans gathering noro in large quantities together. With the dangerous nature of the noro explained by Richard, some empathy is given to the aradama, who are in their own way victims of human greed. The moral ambiguity of this truth weighs heavy on the girls, and though Richard and Rui hate having to do it, they know its important for the toji to know the truth of what they’re doing.
Later, the girls take time to decompress and unpack the implications of what they’ve learned while bonding with each other and making plans for the future. Their hope for the future holds, outweighing the harsh realities of the world they’re in. But this moment of contemplation does not last long. Sirens blaring, the soldiers of the Origami family arrive at the village, no doubt preparing to arrest any toji they can in their assault. The cast splits into two groups, with one staying behind to defend the temple and Kanami’s group fleeing to a secret escape route.
Jumping down from a helicopter, Yume Tsubakuro, the member of the Origami family elite guard goes to work taking out the toji defenders one by one, slicing through them like butter. Meanwhile, the other group finds resistance from STT soldiers blocking their escape route. They take the soldiers down but take some damage from special weapons developed by the Origami family. Nonetheless, they manage to get onto a submarine to escape to the ocean, but Takako stays behind to fend off Yume, who threatens their escape. She can’t stand up to Yume’s power, however, and is quickly felled before Yume’s swift sword strikes. Everyone manages to escape, but with many toji fallen and taken captive by the Origami family. Our heroes press on, bruised, but not beaten.
Katana Maidens find itself a little bit stretched thin in terms of tone this time around. As pleasant, and almost obligatory these days, as a festival episode is, its presence in this week’s installment takes away from vital time that could be used for the more interesting and important raid on the village by the STT. That escape, in order to be done properly, should probably have its own episode, which would have allowed the festival scenes to really drive home the bonds our cast of toji has all made with each other along the way. As it is, though, I found the writing to be pretty solid and emotionally valid, along with the action near the end being just enough to keep me entertained. Not spectacular, but not bad.