The calm before the storm.
Oh man, Tokyo Ravens really pulled out all the stops for this episode.
The Big Twist
Way to go, Natsume!
Well the big twist is revealed, although I’m sure the show has dropped several hints in episodes prior. But basically it turns out Bakatora is indeed Yakou’s reincarnation. Or at least, he was supposed to be until his father (the man we believed to be Natsume’s father until now) pulled the biggest con in Tokyo Ravens history by deceiving not only the Onmyoji but even Yakou’s spirit. All this, accomplished by the “simple” act of sealing away Bakatora’s ability to perceive spiritual energy. Then to complete the job Yasuzumi raised a girl from a branch family as his own and had her take the brunt of the Yakou fanatics’ schemes. When you think about it, basically Natsume got the short end of the stick as the decoy. Which makes me feel really bad for her since she’s also had to deal with the pressure of living up to her falsified role as the Tsuchimikado family’s next head in addition to the whole Yakou nonsense.
A time for confessions.
Now, the obvious question we’re all wondering is why exactly Yasuzumi did all this. Genji sort of brushed aside the issue by claiming that Yasuzumi simply had no grand ambitions for the Tsuchimikado family to regain its former glory and thus didn’t want Yakou to be reincarnated. But I don’t believe this really answers the question. I want to say that there’s something else going on within the Tsuchimikado family that not even the Kurahashis and Soumas are aware of. Or perhaps there’s something even bigger at play, like Yakou being too powerful or dangerous to let live in present day. We know that he originally lived during WWII, and it’s possible his other “great desire” that Takiko keeps referring to might be something cheesy along the lines of world domination. Either way, “not being ambitious” isn’t exactly sufficient reason for hiding your true son’s identity and sealing away his natural powers. And if this really were the case, then Yasuzumi deserves a bit of a beating for being such a horrible parent to not only his real son, but also his foster daughter.
Love Cut Short?
Hokuto is born.
Moving right along, I would like to congratulate Bakatora on again graduating from his Bakatora nickname. I hereby bestow upon him the right to again use his proper name, Harutora, for finally and formally realizing that Natsume was Hokuto all along. Sure, he might have more or less figured it out before now, but this is when the acknowledgement is made clear between both parties. Plus, Natsume even went ahead and confessed her feelings, so all the better for the both of them. That said, the congratulations are kind of cut short because we’re left with the cliffhanger of Natsume’s possible death. And at Harutora’s own hands, at that, even if he might not have had control of his powers at the time. I’m almost tempted to immediately demote him again to Bakatora, but I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt for now. Plus, none of us truly believe that Natsume will die, right? I’d be very surprised if she does, because she’s just all too important. Most likely Harutora will harness his new-found badassery and save her somehow.
Takiko might never have met Yakou, but she is his “friend.”
To round things off, I must again ask questions. How does sealing away a host’s ability to perceive spiritual energy prevent a reincarnated soul from possessing said host? You’d think the host’s ability to see spirits is irrelevant to his susceptibility to possession, especially when he is expressly the reincarnation of said soul. I suppose all of this can be hand-waved by the very fact that we’re talking about reincarnation and who even knows how that works. But even so I find the simple sealing away of Harutora’s powers to be a dis-satisfactory explanation. Next, how can the Kurahashis and Soumas be so sure that Yakou will approve of their actions? Sure, they might have allegedly been bestest buddies way back when. But I don’t recall Yakou ever asking them to fuck around with his descendants in his name. You’d think if anything he’d be pissed off at their treatment of his family. And if the legends are to believed, you do not want to piss off Yakou.
Not even Miyo foresaw the deception.
One possible explanation I can think of is that actually he did endorse this whole nonsense, which would make him the real big bad boss. But somehow I have a hard time believing him to be that kind of person. Miyo’s recollection of him made him out to be more of a kind, good-natured person, whose only problem was his loneliness due to a lack of peers. And if we are to believe that he was always lonely, who’s to say he truly thought of the Kurahashis and the Soumas as his friends. They always claim themselves as such, but perhaps from Yakou’s own point of view they were merely business associates of sorts whom he kept at arm’s length in truth.
Tokyo Ravens manages to recover from a muddled middle thanks to this episode. To be honest, things were getting a bit too thick for us anime-only viewers to properly appreciate. So I’m glad that the show has gone “back to the basics” by finally addressing the topic of Yakou’s reincarnation. Now, there are still several unanswered questions, such as what Suzu’s motives are and why Kakugyouki associates with her. But I think that the renewed focus on the core of the show really helps point the uninitiated viewer in the right direction instead of leaving us overwhelmed.
Will Natsume live to see another day?