So that was a switch – but then, given the frequent directional changes for this show, a logical narrative progression from the prior episode would actually have been the real switch. It’s almost as if the episodes were tossed onto the floor and were picked up and aired in random order.
Basically, this one was a complete diversion – half of it background into Mikuni, and the other half from Mashu’s POV. Now, it just happens that those are the two best characters on the show, so that manages to turn what could have been a disaster into a pretty good idea. We even get our standard couple of nuggets of exposition, as I’ve become used to.
The notion that the asset represents the future of the entre is an interesting one. It’s very hard to quantify what it actually means, given that the vast majority of assets appear to be completely unrelated to humans. No one on the series seems to be able to offer any insight on just what that relationship means – or the ones who do aren’t talking. In Mikuni’s case Q is clearly his comatose imouto. Her story was incredibly cliched – the ill sibling in the hospital, the cold, greedy father. It was told pretty effectively and shed a little light on Mikuni’s psyche, but beyond that there wasn’t much of note to it.
Based on that, it’s tempting to believe that Mashu – as another anthropomorphic asset – represents Kimimaro’s future. But what that means is again unclear. A girlfriend, daughter, wife? Maybe it’s Mashu herself, since they’re clearly playing the shipping game between those two? Heck, she even tries to kiss him after seeing it on TV. A flustered Kimimaro demurs, noting that he’s never kissed anyone so can’t say just what it feels like. Poor boy – not just a virgin but a NBK at 19?
Mashu is a real delight, the one part of this show that elicits real feeling from me. Yes she’s cute, but there’s more – it’s fascinating watching her pseudo-intellectual analysis of Kimimaro and his world. Haruka Tomatsu is nailing this role – it’s a kind of tsundere turned on it’s ear. I loved the fact that after she started eating ramen, lots of other entres are feeding their assets, too. There’s talk of some darker stuff, which elicits a rare moment of impulsive action from Kimimaro. He’s clearly developed feelings for Mashu, but what can possibly come of it?
With only four eps left I’m still astonishingly unsure of what we have here. There are definite elements of Satoshi Kon, who was a genius at telling a larger story through superficially unrelated mini-arcs. But I don’t sense the same sense of purpose here – this seems more disjointed and less directed, as if there’s a lot of improvising going on (something I never felt with Kon). I hope Kenji Nakamura has a master plan to give meaning to all this interesting content he’s splattered about, but he better hurry – he’s running out of time to make a cohesive whole out of it.