Being adopted can be such a drag.
Kazuki remembers when Haruka was born, but also when his grandfather died and said his mother was a whore. You know, great family memories. But through hearing that, he somehow learned that he was actually an adopted kid with a mother he had never met, which caused a rift to form between him and his family, especially Haruka.
In the present day, Kazuki still plans to kidnap the real Sara Azuma in order to be dressed as her and continue pretending to be Sara for Haruka. To do that, he still enlists Toi to help, much to Toi’s surprise, but his efforts to keep Sara busy prove futile as she keeps squirming her way out of any place that Toi puts her in. Apparently, she’s some sort of supernatural creature as well, being able to morph into a small white plushy thing. But because they can’t keep her away, Kazuki’s disguise is undone and his secret is revealed in front of Haruka, his parents, and dozens of spectators.
But the next Kappa Zombie arrives just in time to avoid talking about it, coming a little bit earlier than normal and being based on collected sachets, just like one that Haruka is carrying. Despite having his lie exposed and his reputation with his brother potentially shattered, Kazuki rushes to rescue Haruka’s sachet. But when they get to the Sarazanmai ritual, he can’t take his mind off the fact that Haruka’s bag must have been his biological mom’s, which disrupts the ritual and allows the Zombie to continue wreaking havoc. As punishment for their failure, Keppi doesn’t return them to human form.
Completely humiliated, Kazuki remembers meeting his real mom, who offered to take him in and bring him back to her family, but he turned her down, accepting that the family that raised him was his real one. But unknown to him, Haruka followed him, thinking he was about to leave. In his frustration, Kazuki walks away from him, not noticing until its too late that Haruka was hit by a car, crippling him. The guilt overtook him, made worse when no one would blame him, causing him to act out by stealing their cat, quitting soccer, and dressing up as Sara, all in hopes of making amends.
Meanwhile, Mabu and Reo celebrate finally getting a win, though Reo is pissed off at Mabu’s standoff-ish nature.
That’s a big ol’ OOF from me, dawg. Now that we’ve given everyone a chance to introduce the basics of their character arcs, it’s time to dig into those a bit deeper, starting with Kazuki. The cross-dressing secret was always bound to be found out at some point in order to uncover what was behind it all, and now we know. All the little things that slowly undid the happy life Kazuki used to have all stemmed from his guilt over Haruka’s accident on top of his identity crisis over finding out that he was adopted. That last part alone can be a real challenge to come to terms with for a kid, especially when a stable family (meaning one made up of consistently available and supportive members for the child or children) is so important to a child’s development. And it seemed like he was coming to terms with things by choosing the family with Haruka over his “real” mother, only for Haruka’s misunderstanding to complicate things and snowball into the accident, which in turn caused Kazuki to spiral into his state at the beginning of the series.
Also of note is that we have the first major change up to the formula of the Sarazanmai ritual that the series has established in the past four episodes. Namely that it can fail if one of the boys doesn’t keep their eye on the ball (or ball in the ass?) and that failure comes with consequences, that being the Zombie remains a problem, there’s no dish of silver or hope as a prize, and the boys aren’t allowed to become human again (though I imagine that Kazuki’s probably fine with just disappearing in the state he’s in right now. Though if I were a betting man, I’d say this low point is probably setting up for the eventual resolution next episode to have the next dish be a Dish of Hope, meaning one of the boys is going to be getting a wish granted. But we’ll have to wait till next time to find out.
The other tidbit, while brief, continues to develop our ostensible villains Mabu and Reo and their relationship. They were in hot water to get a victory (which maintaining this Zombie seems to qualify as), so this allows us to see what they’re like when things go their way for once, but it’s still not much of a celebration as Mabu’s stoicism seems to be pissing Reo off a bit. The Opening notes that Mabu is in Reo’s place where the boys think of the person most precious to them, and their intimate closeness in their regular dancing does imply a strong bond between them, but it’s still unclear how much is coming and going on either side. Considering this episode is a major turning point for the show, it might be time to start digging into that too starting next week.