To be honest, I’m kind of rooting for Tsuchigumo at this point. Nothing against Rikuo, but he’s obviously not going to lose this fight and die with his MC armor. And Tsuchi-G is such a great character than I’d hate to see him die – I’m hoping he loses the fight and joins Rikuo’s side. I mean, he’s already said he plans to fight Nue after he disposes of Rikuo, so there are no ideological barriers. Except of course that he seemingly isn’t an alliance sort of guy – more of a lone warrior. But what a GAR bastard he is – swigging 50 casks of sake, smoking like a chimney, crushing spider demons, all while waiting for his one on one matchup with Kid Tokyo. He even uses one of his seemingly endless abilities to turn the fight into a cage match, though Rikuo’s pals find a way to break through that.
It appears that at long last Rikuo has finally grasped the full nature of his father’s fear. “Equip” – using the shared trust with his Night Parade to incorporate their fear into his own arsenal. I won’t say “mastered” yet, but he’s got the idea, and just in time too. It’s a cool concept as well, befitting the hybrid nature of Rikuo and his father, and explaining why they’re able to surpass Nurarihyon in pure ability. With Rikuo back and better than ever, the rest of the Night Parade and the Tono contingent are fully on-board, pumped up and raising hell. It’s quite fun to see Minagoroshi Jizo getting all panicky as his minions are being massacred left and right. The full nature of his plan is still unclear, but he can definitely see it starting to crash down around his ears.
The other classic moments of the episode certainly involve Tsurara. She’s just so incredibly cute with her love for Rikuo that it melts my heart (which is sort of ironic). The poor girl was even willing to take her own life rather than see herself used as bait to lure Rikuo into a battle with Tsuchi-G. I hope Rikuo remembers which one of his harem was willing to die for him when it comes time to choose a life-mate. The look on her face when he asked her to “entrust her body to him” – oh, boy… Despite her desire to protect Rikuo at all turns, it’s clear the nature of the relationship has turned now. Rikuo is going to be the one doing the protecting, though his unique fear allows him to rely on his friends more than any other youkai might.
In fact, it was fitting that it was Tsurara and Zen that broke through Tsuchigumo’s barrier first, because those two are really the closest to Rikuo in terms of trust and affection. But the Tono gang were soon behind them, setting up an interesting match with Tsuchigumo. I really don’t think Rikuo could beat him one-on-one – but given that relying on his friends is the fundamental nature of his fear, would that even be a fair test? I don’t know if it makes Rikuo any less GAR to have to rely on the others for this battle, but it doesn’t feel like it to me.