But WTF did they do to pass the exam? Ah, well – there’s some serious academic fixing going on at this school, and obviously Bunny and Hoodie are important enough to the plot that they had to be advanced with the others. But I can forgive it, because this is just a terrifically enjoyable show to watch, week in and week out. It’s not the most challenging or deep, but it takes on it’s classic material in a very smart way and builds the characters up to the point where we really care what happens to them. Top-notch casting and production values don’t hurt either.
This was a bit of a throwback to the emotionally charged, intense first couple of episodes after a pleasing run of school life setup eps. This week had a little of everything – intrigue and betrayal among the staff, brotherly bonding, flashbacks, Shiemi cuteness and some solid humor. In short, just about a perfect shounen episode.
The betrayer was Neuhaus-sensei (Ryotaro Okiayu), who was in fact acting as part of a faculty plan to test the students (especially Rin) as suspected – but considerably exceeded his mandate by putting the students in real danger in support of his personal vendetta. A survivor of the Blue Night who lost his eye when Satan possessed him, he can’t forgive Rin for who he is. Rin, however, not only defeats Neuhaus but proves the bigger man by walking away from the conflict in the end.
It was also nice to see Yuki leap to Rin’s defense despite being part of the plan. He’d fallen into kind of a douchebag persona after the first two eps, and it was never clear if his loyalty to Rin extended beyond his loyalty to Pheles and the school. While he could be forgiven for having his doubts, it was nice to see him step up and take Neuhaus on for overstepping his agreed bounds – not to mention anticipating the attempt on Rin’s life. It was also nice to get a bit of background from Yuki’s childhood (his first meeting with Shiemi) without Rin in the picture. It seems inevitable that those two will clash over Shiemi before it’s tone.
Of course, the clincher of the week is the revelation that Mephisto Pheles actually instructed Neuhaus to attempt to kill Rin after all – or so it appears. I’m not 100% convinced he only did so knowing Neuhaus would fail, as yet another test – and it’s not as though I trusted the guy anyway. But his motives remain spectacularly opaque at this point, and his goofy personality obviously is a facade for a very dark anf ruthless demon. The one who calls him Ani-ue (Amaimon, played by the outstanding Tetsuya Kakihara – “Ani-ue” is an archaic form of “Big Brother”) is his next trump card, though in what capacity we’re not quite sure.