This was a goofy episode all-around. Reminds me of the Nanami episodes in Utena. Still, it was entertaining, and there were some interesting developments.
I Like my ___ Like I Like my ____
This episode made quite an effective use of repetition, particularly of this phrase. The usage first begins with Masako: “Men are like tea: the first cup is always the most satisfying.” OK, so that’s why she’s obsessed with Kanba.
Then the grandfather uses the same phrase multiple times. “I like my women like I like my tea: the younger the better.” “I like my blowfish like I like my women: stripped by me.” and there are several others. The repetition establishes a contrast: Masako is only interested in one man; her grandfather is a chronic womanizer. A lot like Kanba, isn’t he?
We see a similar repetition with the sword swinging scene. At the beginning of each of Masako’s delusions, we see the grandfather swining his sword, chanting “I will not be crushed. I will not be crushed.” Then when we see Mario swinging the sword… oh, shit.
It’s the same thing with Masako’s dreams. She always kills her grandfather in ridiculous ways, but then when he actually dies, it’s even more ridiculous. And then Masako herself dies (or not) the same way her grandfather did. Vision and reality have become blurred.
In the Shadows of Giants
Last week, we learned that Yuri was haunted by her father, and trapped in the shadow of his humongous statue. This week, Masako is overshadowed by her grandfather, whom she still strives to crush.
Where Yuri had Momoka as a childhood friend to change fate at her behest, Masako has Kanba. Momoka has the power to change fate, but Kanba doesn’t. So all he can promise is to keep Masako company if she’s going to be cursed.
Interestingly, both Yuri and Masako end up becoming what they hate. Yuri becomes the epitome of beauty, making a career as a charismatic and popular actress. As for Masako, we see how her morning starts with a single cup of black tea, as did her grandfather’s. Where her grandfather is obsessed with not being crushed, Masako is obsessed with crushing him.
Or is he obsessed with not being crushed? Everything we see of the grandfather is seen through the lens of Masako’s eyes. The tea scene, which mirrors Masako’s morning, turns out to be part of her dream of killing him. The scene where he heads to the boardroom, as Masako did earlier, again turns out to be part of Masako’s murderous delusions. Who is the grandfather, really?
From Masako’s perspective, he has committed three sins: 1) he believes that people are divided into winners and losers, 2) he sees Masako’s father as a loser and drives him from home, and 3) he doesn’t take good care of Mario, as evidenced by his possibly deadly training regime. Yuri overcomes the idea of being one of the “losers” through Momoka’s love. Masako overcomes this by becoming a winner through her own power: she is the huntress, not the hunted. This is problematic, because Masako doesn’t learn how to love.
Look at how Masako deals with Mario. It’s clear that she does love Mario: just look at what she’s done for him. Masako finds herself in a role similar to Momoka in protecting Yuri, and to Kanba in protecting Himari. But where Momoka can tell Yuri that she loves her, Masako’s way of showing her love is by crushing others and shielding Mario from the world. Also, look at how Masako loves Kanba. By crushing him(?), wiping the memories of his ex-girlfriends, and blackmailing him into meeting her in the hospital.
As Masako dies from blowfish poisoning, she says the she wanted to hear she was loved from someone, but she passes out before she can say who. It isn’t her father. Is it Kanba? Her grandfather? Mario? All three? It’s unclear. The same can be said of her catchphrase, “I need to crush him soon.” Does she need to crush Kanba? Her grandfather? Quite possibly it’s the same person she wants to hear she is loved by.
This was the weirdest survival strategy yet. Masako’s maid is spying on penguin hat Himari, and the hat brings the maid into the subway tunnel world. There, she transforms the old maid into a young woman and takes suggestive photos of her. I… don’t even know what to make of this. Since neither Kanba nor Shouma is there, Himari stands on top of #3 and a blowfish.
So it appears that the grandfather has possessed Mario: this is quite literally his curse. If Momoka is the one possessing Himari (as seems increasingly likely due to the hair color / eye color match) then this could also be a form of a curse: possessing the children of the perpetrators of the subway incident. Kanba has fulfilled his promise and become cursed along with Masako. Of course, Momoka doesn’t seem to be the vengeful type, and the penguin hat is trying to save Himari. Another possibility is that Momoka changed fate, and is responsible for the Takakura parents becoming the perpetrators. So it is not a curse but a penance.
There also seems to be a link between Sanetoshi and the grandfather. First, while Mario is in the pond, Sanetoshi calls Masako to tell her about the dangers of eating blowfish. It seems that he is somehow involved. Second, this one phrase of the grandfather’s caught my attention:
Is the grandfather Sanetoshi? Perhaps so, perhaps not, but either way, they have a lot in common. The main difference seems to be their attitude: Sanetoshi is sly, while the grandfather is quite up front about everything.
So what can the grandfather tell us about Sanetoshi? Honestly, I’m not sure. The grandfather believes people are divided into winners and losers, so perhaps Sanetoshi believes the same thing.
I am Not Taking that Train
From the train scene at the end of the episode, it seems that Masako’s father may have joined the group that Kanba is getting money from, and was tossed aside when they were done. Or this could simply be referring to how Masako’s father was tossed aside by her grandfather. Either way, with the parallels drawn between Masako’s father and Sanetoshi (the presumed leader of the suited men) the implications are sinister.
Sanetoshi claims that these men have been chosen to “put the world back on track.” Sanetoshi’s goal is to “take back the world.”After Momoka changed fate in some way, Sanetoshi wants to put it back on the original track. The way the world was originally, Mario (and Himari, I would assume) didn’t die. So perhaps Momoka feels guilty for Himari’s death, and is possessing her out of guilt.
Why is Masako so resistant to joining the men on the train, even if it will save Mario? What happened to her father could be enough of an explanation, but she clearly knows more than we do about what’s going on.
In the train scene, Mario passes an apple to Sanetoshi. Sanetoshi takes the apple out from behind the book of fish he’s looking at, and it transforms into one of Masako’s slingshot balls with the pingroup logo. Then he drops it on the ground, and steam is coming out of it. What is this about? Any ideas?
- To have prepared the replica to speak, Yuri must have known Masako would attempt to steal the diary. Why? What is their connection?
- Himari is reading a book on adult knitting at the hospital. Ok…?
- I loved the Nutcracker music this episode.
- The ending song worked really well after this episode.
- We only had one scene with Shouma and Ringo, but it was a nice one. Ringo has become Shouma’s stalker now. D’aawww.