OP2: “Kid, I like Quartet” by UNISON SQUARE GARDEN
I really liked the choice Ryo-timo made when it came to what to do about overlapping the material covered in the Hoshi no Umi OVA series (which he also directed). Rather than a recap episode or even a simple recap – or just ignoring the material altogether – he gave us an extended credit sequence featuring the Hoshi no Umi OP, with a collection of scenes from those episodes. It was a nice call-back to the OVA and that OP (excellent in its own right, though I love the TV OP a lot), and a nice refresher for those of us that have seen it. I can’t imagine it will fill in many blanks for those who never watched the OVA, but I don’t think there’s any way he was going to be able to accomplish that anyway.
While I’ve commented frequently on the matter-of-fact, take it in stride way YQ tends to gloss over the weirdness taking place in Sakura Newtown, this is the part where the plot really stats to assert itself in a good way. I like the conflict Yasuda-sensei has set up here, and Enjin is an excellent villain – all the more so because of what that body means to the heroes of the series. There are a great many centers of power in this story, and most of them hold their cards pretty close to the vest about what side they’re really on (no matter what Enjin says) which gives the whole enterprise an electric and unpredictable quality that’s quite fun to experience.
There was a ton of the usual stylistic flair all over this episode, with the scene where Enjin “tunes” Akina especially good (great sound design here, too). As to what Akina saw little is revealed here, but just what the other world might be like is the elephant in the room in Yozakura Quartet – the uncertainly hangs over everyone, but most especially Akina himself. I’ve always thought of it as a thinly veiled metaphor for death – no one on this side really knows what it’s like on the other side or if there even is another side, and that surely makes Akina feel very much like what he does is murder. And the fact that the memorial ground for all the youkai that have been tuned looks very much like a cemetery doesn’t do anything to dispel the image.
Also of note in this episode is that Ryo-timo finally found a way to avoid a panty shot – with a nopan shot, Kotoha style. Don’t worry though, he’s not going soft – get plenty of cotton (Nurse Ratchet’s skirt is so short pretty much every appearance she makes is an extended panty shot), including from the moeblob. We also get the most extended appearance yet from the Elders, who’ve been very silent thus far but are very much one of those inscrutable centers of power. Iyo (Kiyowaka Mutumu – always great to hear Futsuyuki’s voice) proves a beast with a pipe stem, and Shidare (Himada Kenji) introduces a literal wild-card into the mix for the first time – onmyoudou. Things are about to get very explosive around Sakura Newtown.