Have you ever seen a glowing green man with a cane surf on a wave of fire?
This was a pretty cool episode, all things considered.
And this is why you never wear shades indoors.
There were several nice things and several bad things about this episode. Let’s begin with the good stuff. It’s really something that Tokyo Ravens has consistently done well throughout the run of the show, but the action in this episode was pretty darn good. It was the sort of non-stop frantic action that toes the line between keeping you on the edge of your seat and absolutely overwhelming the audience. I won’t deny that watching an overconfident Reiji getting his ass demolished by Jin helped boost my appreciation by way of catharsis. The loud-mouthed and smug onmyoji had it long coming if you ask me. But regardless, pretty much all of the separate yet interwoven conflicts came together just perfectly to present to us a clear view of what could easily have been a very confusing experience. In that way, most of the episode was not only enjoyable, but also fairly easy to stomach, aside from a few points I will mention later. And that adds so much to the watch-ability of the show, unlike some of the thicker moments in earlier episodes that left uninitiated viewers feeling like they were out of the loop. Once again, I praise 8bit for bringing the story back under control after those brief moments of befuddlement.
Look at Tenma! It’s his five seconds of fame!
With the good stuff out of the way, it is unfortunately time to discuss some of the negatives of this episode. These are mostly minor complaints, I suppose. But given that they involve events so integral to the progression of the story, I think they bear some mentioning. First is the dark horse of the group, Tenma. While the show has admittedly attempted to give him some relevance in the past (recall Jin lecturing Tenma on his sense of self-worth), the guy has more or less stayed out of the spotlight until now. And so his sudden rise to stardom as the one guy who actually managed to successfully infiltrate the Onmyoji Bureau is a bit too contrived and unconvincing to me. While I understand the thought behind Tokyo Ravens giving the underdog a task that only he can accomplish precisely because he lacks a presence, it feels more of an insult than anything. It’s nice that Tenma acknowledges his own lack of ability and, knowing this, is determined to push onward with what little he can do. But at the end of the day he hasn’t really developed or grown in any way that the story might imply. He’s just been given a lame excuse to take the spotlight briefly before it returns again to the usual big damn heroes.
Kyouko is a mahou shoujo.
My next gripe lies with Kyouko. I think by now I’ve mentioned several times that I didn’t like how useless she was. Whenever there’s some big conflict she just seems to be in the way and doesn’t accomplish much. Now however, she suddenly gains a powerup and becomes relevant just in time for the finale. Except her relevance here is so forced it’s almost painful to think about. I had previously speculated that she might be developing some sort of clairvoyance ability, which would be in line with her grandmother’s divining ability. Turns out what she awakens is actually an astrology ability, which I guess is kind of a mix of clairvoyance and divining. Point is, she is able to perceive the many worlds (or dimensions or planes) that exist beyond our own, thus automatically becoming the shamanic voice of authority on all matters soul manipulation. And guess what is the first thing she decrees? Why, of course that it’s OK for Harutora to use shady magic to resurrect the dead because “Natsume is waiting.” This flies in the face of everything the show has built up so far regarding the taboo of soul manipulation techniques and rituals, almost like it needed some ass-pull excuse to justify the main character breaking the one rule that shouldn’t be broken.
Even in death, Natsume lingers around Harutora.
I understand we were all expecting it to happen eventually anyway, since Natsume obviously isn’t staying dead. But if this is the path the story has to take, at least come up with a more believable and legitimate excuse. The sudden “englightenment” of one of the main characters does not present a convincing argument for the breaking of the core rules of the world that has been set up. In fact, I might have been more OK with the inevitable situation if we completely left out this weird bit about Kyouko and Harutora merely went ahead with the Taizan Fukun ritual purely out of his love for Natsume. Love is usually a pretty good go-to excuse for breaking all the rules, because who can argue against it? So really, I felt the development with Kyouko was overall unnecessary and even distracted us from the matter at hand. It’s nothing that completely ruins the show, but just a minor eyesore in an otherwise satisfactory episode.
I’m trailing off so let me quickly conclude to keep this post in manageable length. I’m excited to see Suzu finally join the fray (indirectly here and possible directly in the finale). The “strange senpai” has been missing for too long in the show. Someone else who has also been missing as of late is Takiko. While I’m personally fed up with her for creating the current unfortunate situation, no doubt she will have to make an appearance to confront the gang for some closure. What’s really got me pumped for the final climax of the show though, is the possibility for Hishamaru, the other of Yakou’s familiars, to finally show his face and possibly intervene. This, I base on the quoted “conversation” between master and familiar that’s been cropping up in the after-credits recently. Anyway, I imagine Hishamaru would be more proactive than Kakugyouki and will either appear to aid in the Taizan Fukun ritual out of loyalty for his master reborn or perhaps be summoned by the ritual and give the young’uns a deep, long talk about the nature of souls and sorcery before returning Natsume to them. But whatever the case, I’m sure the finale for Tokyo Ravens will be nothing short of spectacular.
Will the finale see more of the loli-loving senpai?