Kamisama Hajimemashita takes a definite detour off its main course for the first time this season, and as much as I’ve enjoyed the recurring Tomoe-Nanami-Akura-oh plot, I think it’s for the better. This series has always fared well with its supporting characters, and Kurama is one of the best. This marks the first time the series has really actively fleshed out his tengu background in detail, and it adds an interesting layer to the series’ mythology.
We also got a welcome dose of humor this week, courtesy of Nanami (well, mostly at her expense). When she and Botanmaru visit Kurama in his dressing room, Kurama is shocked to see a fledging of his kind, and the reason soon becomes apparent. Young tengu are unable to bear the poisons of the mundane world, and Botanmaru soon falls ill. Kurama clearly has no interest in associating with his people at the moment, but just as clearly he’s not the kind of guy who’d led a frail scamp like Botanmaru wither away and die – so he offers to take the little one back to Mt. Kurama.
The scars on Botanmaru’s arm surely had something to do with that as well, as they brought back memories of Kurama’s own beatings at the hand of the cruel Jirou (Hatano Wataru). If Botanmaru sought out Kurama because he saw something of himself in the tengu he knows as Shinjirou, surely Kurama sees himself in the child. Like Botanmaru Shinjirou was comforted by the kindly Suirou (Hirakawa Daisuke) when things with Jirou or his older brothers grew especially bad (was that Sanpei Yuuko I heard as the chibi Shinjirou?). But Suirou was punished for his kindness – when Jirou threw Shinjirou into a pit of thunderbirds to try and force him to fly, it was Suirou who saved him, and had his wings burned off as a reward.
Things on Mt. Kurama are clearly in bad shape. The tribal head Soujoubo has fallen ill, a miasma hangs over the mountain, and the sacred sakura tree has withered. And Jirou is positioning himself to take over as the new leader, which seems like a pretty bad idea based on what we’ve seen of his temperament. The wrinkle here is that Kurama is apparently in position to claim the title for himself, but he certainly doesn’t seem interested in that. He does have a reunion with Suirou, however – and Suirou bears none of the resentment over what happened to him that Kurama feared he might.
As mentioned, there’s some good comedy here at Nanami’s expense. First, she desperately needs to use the toilet during the entire trip up the mountain (which Tomoe unhesitatingly points out to all). Then she has an encounter with a group of tengu boys, all of whom also suffer under Jirou’s hand – which stiffens Nanami’s resolve to help however she can. Unfortunately for the boys it’s forbidden to touch or make eye contact with a female, especially a “young and beautiful” one (does ass-kicking count)? It’s the “swelling of the chest” which gives Nanami away, but the boys soon comfort themselves that she’s not all that attractive – “Suirou is way more beautiful”.
There’s one more interesting wrinkle here: Yatori (Shimono Hiro), who we saw last week stirring up trouble with (or for) Akura-oh, is also whispering Wormtongue-style in Jirou’s ear. Clearly Yatori is a big instigator of conflict for this season, as it was surprising to see him show up in this seemingly unrelated plot thread. It’ll be very interesting to see how he fits into the big picture.