This is just her warm-up
I forgot to mention this earlier, but I haven’t posted for a while since I was presenting at a science conferences in the states. I’m back now and ready to catch up with everything though!
This week’s theme (decided by me lol) is about crossing thresholds. This refers to both emotional and physical thresholds, be it breaking through borders to form relationships or physically crossing over into new territory. One surprising constant through most of this change appears to be Akadama. Yes, the crotchety old tengu whose name I had to look up on MAL because I always ignore him is going to be the focus of this post.
Episode 5 starts off by explaining what turns out to be an extremely anti-climactic cliffhanger. Gyokuran wasn’t sucked into a shogi board never to be seen again…she just teleported into Akadama’s closet. All they had to do was open the door and they were free. It seemed like a solution that was a tad too simple given how much of a shocking cliffhanger it was at the time for me. However, I do think this convenient teleportation device still has uses in the future, and this won’t be the first time it sucks someone in.
Later on, we learn this closet was actually the very same one he locked the Shimogano parents in in so that they’d stop hesitating and confess their love to each other. At least, I think it’s supposed to be insinuating something sweet like that, but I couldn’t help but think he locked them there until they had kinky closet sex. “And that’s how you furballs were born”. R-rated imagery aside, this revelation shows that Akadama is the kind of guy who can break down barriers. He brought one generation together, and he does the exact same with Gyokuran and Yaichiro. Thankfully, it’s not done in the same closet, although they did visit it. It’s still quite a feat that he got two shy, young adults to confess their love in a crowded room.
It’s shown that breaking down these walls is something very unique to Akadama as well. Admit it, Yasaburo coaching his brother in the art of confessing would never have worked. More importantly, we see that it’s Akadama who is able to comfort Benten when she’s at her lowest point. After her (literal and figurative) fall, she sits waist-deep in dirty water, as if tainted. Yasaburo hesitates when he sees her, but Akadama doesn’t even pause. He approaches and doesn’t speak down to her, but joins her in the muddy shallows, eye-to-eye. Although he seems to be in huge denial about not being able to fly most of the time, I think deep down he knows how weak he has become. He understands how painful it is to accept defeat. Yasaburo is left standing on the threshold, unable to comfort Benten when she needs it most.
I like how the show gave us a map of where Benten falls so we can visit the site IRL
In episode 6, Yasaburo does some border jumping of his own. It’s not exactly a pleasure cruise though, because he gets thrown into Hell. I absolutely loved how the scenery looked, and how they went with a dreary, industrial revolution theme. Upon crossing over to the other side, he sees Benten in the thick of battle. The oni aren’t even close to being a match for her. I think she just wanted to blow off some steam after losing so badly to Nidaime. Unless she really wanted a blue oni horn necklace to accentuate her kimono.
I actually didn’t get too much out of episode 6 because most of it was just enjoying the view from Hell. There’s a big revelation that Soun is going to be a nasty cannibal on top of being a murderer now, but I honestly forgot who he was so the scene wasn’t as dramatic for me. In fact, I’m totally fine with the plot of the show staying loose and wild. There hasn’t really been a main plot for a while aside from two tanuki confessing their love and Benten having cat fights with Nidaime. Even these things ultimately don’t amount to much in the grand scheme of thing aside from being cool character drama. But I love little vignettes like this and I enjoy some of the most pointless parts of the show.
For example, I’m always giddy when Kaisei is on screen, hiding as (or in) various inanimate objects. The tanuki transformations are great for creating fun situations, such as when Yasaburo turns into an oni as a disguise, but he picks a form that’s too hot, so a female oni starts patting his pecs in appreciation. There are just so many fun surprises to be had. It can also say a lot about what the tanuki are like, based on their transformation habits. I like when the three brothers met in the well and Yasaburo and Yajirou were chill frogs, but Yaichiro was a mean-looking, warty toad. It’s perfect! Speaking of which, I recall in season 1 they spent a lot of time talking to Yajirou in their human forms, simply looking down the well and literally talking down to him. They were ashamed of his inability to transform. But now they join him. They don’t even have to be frogs, they could technically have transformed into salamanders, flies, fish, or tadpoles. To show solidarity, they pick matching forms to show that they accept their brother for who he is.
Also, that frog bus? Totally the next cat bus.