Let’s take a big bite out of the penultimate episode!
|We got the PLOTZ!! But I really like it, there’s been a line running through this show that is quite frightening; if not outright terrifying. But being the sort of show is it, that get’s wrapped up in the moe package rather nicely.|
Chiya, Kurou, and Sometimes Tears
Yami of the white hair. Mama by any other name…
So we pick up right where we left off; one recap cold open later. Chiya was missing by the end of the test run, and the girl’s were just twigging on to that. But just when they get their bearing and readjust from completing the test and setting to find Chiya – she holds the quest coupon after all, the rest of the traps get triggered and the three of them have to deal with that. I really enjoyed the balance of both halves of the show. Nono, Kon, and Koume had to deal with everything with a a sense of urgency and immediacy that was both visible and tractable, and with Chiya we had the chance to take our time and ponder the mystery. By intercutting between both scenes they kept one portion of the show fast paced, and the cuts didn’t diminish Chiya’s story at all. Then the second half played it out naturally with both angles when the group was made whole.
The ever awesome Matsuko!
But where the three test-runners had their fair share of troubles, it was Chiya’s test that proved to be the meat of the episode. We’ve been waiting for the story to reveal some of it’s secrets since the beginning, and this looks to be the first payoff. While they didn’t over-explain the mystery – and thank goodness for that, the last thing we need is an overabundance of exposition – they kept it to a nice balance of revelation and tantalization. We don’t get information, so much as a confirmation of a feeling. Chiya really is more than advertised, and the “rabbit-hole” is much deeper than expected. But more important, Chiya’s mere existence is causing enough trouble for the Powers-That-Be to interfere with her and the whole of the test in as direct a manner as they can. They try to frighten off, but her shadowy twin, Kurou, is having none of that. Good use of that character/plot device to pay off what it started episodes ago.
Together to the end…and beyond!
So all of this has everything to do with her particular flavor of Seeing. Whereas everyone else needs a tool for their divination, Chiya was born with that Sight. I’ve not gone to far into real world fortune-telling, as the show only really uses those methods as storytelling tools – there doesn’t seem to be much need to go into each method’s esoterica. But, as I’ve said before, the tools are just a focus. Chiya is the urara and the tool. She has a direct line of sight to the gods, and that doesn’t make them happy in the least. It’s odd, but finding out her mother has the same blessing/curse is just the icing on the cake, it shows us that might be a persistent issue with Meirochou, and how that issue get’s resolved is probably at the heart of the grander story the manga is still telling as of this writing. For now, she’s the heart of Natsume-ya, and she keeps them from faltering. It’s her newfound trust, and theirs as well, that gives them the last divinational push they need to finish the test in the nick of time.
Yay, Level Nine…wonder what kind of sweet shops they’ll find?
So yeah, the terrifying bit. I’m a long time lover of cosmic horror fiction, and this has just the tip of that old Lovecraftian edge to it. There is an old saying, “Those which the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad”. Now I cannot claim the show is treading those boards, but I think about story’s taboo against divining the gods themselves, the source of divination power. I also think about how on the cosmic scale of things we have just enough collective grey matter to organize a great deal of information, but not that much above it, at least not yet. But pushing our boundaries usually live in stories like this. Then I play those twain’s meeting, and that aforementioned edge comes into sight. I’m seeing that in this story, tool based divination is seeking organization from the perceived chaos of the cosmos, but it’s at enough of a remove to become what it is, if not outright superstition. Chiya is a direct line, the line that shoots right past he boundaries. But let’s not get too Lovecraftian as those hoary old stories are designed to chill the blood with a visit to the stark, mind-numbing depths of Lake Hali, and that is all well and good, but…
…this story has an onsen episode…See you then!