I haven’t generally been all that crazy about the character-driven episodes of Haiyore! – or is the plot-driven ones? In any event, less drive and more comedy is usually the forumla for success here, but for an ep that was plot and character heavy this one was pretty good. Any episode that starts off with Wakamoto Norio as a talking vacuum cleaner (it only speaks its own name, “Cyclone!”) can’t be all bad.
The driver of events this time is Kuuko’s “Nee-san” who’s actually an older cousin, Kuune (Yuzuki Ryouka). The strange sexual politics of Haiyore get even stranger, as it turns out Kuune is not just a lesbian but hot for her cousin as well – she basically rapes her the moment she walks into Mahiro’s house. Of course we know Kuuko’s interests lie elsewhere (the decor in her new bedroom is a good clue) but things are a little more complicated that that – as we find out when she decides to pretend Mahiro is her betrothed to get Kuune to forget about the marriage promise she extracted from Kuuko when she was a toddler.
Yeah, that’s a pretty stock setup and a pretty dumb plot – but as we know by now, Haiyore revels in how dumb its plots are. Kuune is fun, a constant patter of otaku humor, and of course the real purpose of all this is to confirm what’s been obvious for a while – she’s developed feelings for Mahiro. Hey, as she says, she can “take up to four at a time” and Mahiro can bear her child. Or not, if he has anything to say about it. And surely Hastur will be heard from before this is said and done (just don’t ask him about the putty in the corners of his room)? I do wish this season of Haiyore had more just plain comic moments like the Cyclone intro – there have been too few of them – but the dynamic is undeniably more interesting with Kuuko fond of Mahiro too, rather than simply seeing him as a rival for Nyaruko.
Mushibugyou – 05
Another strong episode for Mushibugyou, and a pretty big change of direction from what we’ve seen in the last few. After three eps dedicated to introducing the supporting Insect Magistrates, they’re completely absent – the focus turns to Mugai, the most mysterious and powerful of the bunch.
For my money the Oohitonomi (giant flea) is definitely the creepiest of the mushi we’ve seen so far. Fleas, yuck… And fleas the size of buses I can do without. The question hanging over the episode is why Mugai chose Jinbei to be his partner on this mission – for the feckless Jinbei it’s enough to think that it means Jinbei has confidence in him, but Kotori certainly knows better. The mission goes pretty predictably – Jinbei is out to prove himself to Mugai, who has no confidence whatsoever that the lad is strong enough to take on this opponent. And in truth, he’s right – Jinbei does manage to take out one of the larvae, but when he goes against Mugai’s direction to take on the female adult on his own (in order to save a young servant he’s befriended) she proves too much for him to handle.
Jinbei is the classic shounen hero in many ways – relentlessly positive, strong but not overpowered, perpetually questing to prove himself to his father and those he admires. But it’s a pretty likeable version of the trope, no small thanks to Kenn’s winning performance. As for Mugai he’s still very much a cold figure but he does at last crack a smile or two, and it’s Jinbei’s relentless apologizing for not living up to his expectations that melts his ice just a little. He tells Jinbei not to worry, he can’t be disappointed because he had no expectations to start with – cold comfort indeed – and thus is revealed the true reason he chose Jinbei: he’s the weakest and easiest to replace if he dies. Cold indeed – but Mugai isn’t so cold as to reveal that to Jinbei, in the end.
The end of the episode reveals another new character, a man in a Noh mask who seems quite interested in Mugai (who has a lot of people interested in him, it seems). This will seemingly be Nagotomimaru (Fukuyama Jun), though what his role in the story is I have no idea.