All in all I think this was one of the livelier and funnier eps of the second season of Haiyore!, with Nyaruko at probably the least annoying she’s been at any point in the season. And there was even some meaningful plot advancement, though it didn’t get in the way of the silliness.
Why MILF-san decided to take the entire cast (including fringe regulars like Luhy and the boring high-school twins) on a sudden camping trip is a mystery, as is why a character who isn’t even in the anime decided to send Nyaruko a box of love-potion chocolates. But it did lead to some interesting and funny hijinks, especially when the gang stumbles on a haunted house in the woods and the potion kicks in. This has some interesting results, the funniest of which is surely Hastur begging Mahiro to “take my special thing” and Mahiro extricating himself by saying “A boy riding a Byakhee and an incomplete girl are doing the covered in chocolate mint ritual!”
My question here is whether the potion unleashes everyone’s already-existent feelings, or causes them to fall in love with whoever’s handy. Hastur and Kuuko (now anyway) chasing after Mahiro is perfectly consistent, but the vibe lately has been that Luhy is warm for Hastur’s form, and she was completely going after Nyaruko. The upshot of all this is that Nyaruko is unaffected because her love for Mahiro was already stronger than a potion – and she didn’t spoil the moment but doing something stupid for a change. It was the first time all season I’ve really felt their relationship (though I still think Kuuko or Hastur would make more interesting partners comedically).
There’s one other little complication. Nyaruko tells Mahiro that she’s on Earth protecting the Earth deities while the “Banshin” – protectors of the weak and defenseless Gods – take 500 years to be built. The text at the end reflects that they’re done (quite damn early) which I suppose means the finale centers around her orders to leave (along with Kuuko and Hastur, presumably). One other note – this season has had some of the nicest visuals I’ve seen from Xebec, but this ep was especially superb – both the art and animation were stellar, with some nicely integrated 3D CGI effects.
Mushibugyiu – 12
The masses skipping out on Mushibugyou were already missing out on a damn good shounen, but the return of Koyama Rikiya to the cast ups the ante – and now they’re missing out on the ultra-rare instance of Koyama-san singing. Oh, well – their loss.
Genjurou (that seems to be a GAR name pretty much without exception in anime) is in Edo to check up on his boy Jinbei, and it’s a good thing for the city as the Samurai House Guard and it’s leader (Nomura Kenji) are beten to shreds and on the verge of collapse. If Genjurou can take down an entire mountain of giant mushi is does beg the question of why he couldn’t join the Insect Magistrate’s in the first place, but we’ll look the other way on that one because the rest of the ep was solidly entertaining.
Every shounen has to have a training arc of course, and this one involved the old samurai taking his son to the top of Fuji-san to teach him the 36 techniques of the Tsukishima Style (more like one and a half, in truth). This is a pretty classic shounen father-son relationship – lots of talk about strength and blows to the head – but Koyama and Kenn bring real charm to it. Genjurou’s little trick with “Fuji’s Hammer” and the lava was a bit on the dangerous side, though I suppose it could be taken as a show of confidence in Jinbei.
Meanwhile we continue to have a very interesting storyline playing out around the Magistrate herself, who says Jinbei “reminds her of her humanity”. She’s probably more than just grateful to him at this point but she’s certainly that at the very least, and she longs to see him again – but doesn’t quite pull the trigger when she sees him with Oharu-san. She also spills the tidbit that “no normal human” would have been effected like he was just from chewing on one of her hairs, so it’s clear something odd is up with Jinbei.
You can start to see the pieces coming together here, though it’s not clear just how they fit. That song Genjurou-sama sings is a lullaby, and it’s the same one Mugai sang earlier in the series – certainly no coincidence. I was struck by the familiarity in Mugai’s conversation with the Magistrate – it had the feel of siblings, and that would certainly explain his reluctance to kill her. The two of them – and the Insect Hunters – are clearly connected to Jinbei and his family. And then there’s the insect King, whoever he is (it’s confirmed that he is indeed in Osaka Castle) who seems intent on bringing the fires of Hell down on Edo.