With only three episodes left, I kind of found myself hoping Akagami no Shirayukihime would return home this week – both because I miss the castle and the cast there, and also because that’s clearly where whatever meaningful plot advancement we have left is going to take place. But we had one more transitional ep left before that happens. Fortunately, the plus side is that’s the sort of material Akagami is exceptionally good at.
If it feels like Obi has become a more significant player this season, I think that’s because he has. There hasn’t been much development for Zen or (especially) Shirayuki as their story has become largely plot-driven, and Obi has probably stepped up to fill that gap more than any other character. He could be argued to be the main cast member (I don’t include Raj in that) who’s changed the most – or perhaps it might be more accurate to say been changed the most. And that’s what this ep was really about – reminding the audience just how much Obi has changed.
As a vehicle for that we have Trow (Mizuki Nana), an orange-haired lass who takes shelter from the rain at the same (five-star, seemingly) inn as Zen and his party. While there’s no sign of it on the evening of their meeting apart from some pointed repartee, Obi and Trow know each other – they’re fellow ninjas in fact. It makes sense in that line of work you wouldn’t spill the beans on each other’s identities, and Obi goes about a relaxing evening with master – an evening which includes a great deal of teasing in the bath. I know Obi is an irreverent sort who disdains authority figures, but he should be very glad he works for a prince who’s so even-tempered and reasonable. I always find Obi’s jabs at Zen over his obvious love for Shirayuki a bit dark – it’s obvious to everyone but Zen that Obi feels the same way about her, and there’s some definite pain behind his smile.
No one, it seems, is more surprised than Trow to see that someone is now holding Obi’s leash, and he’s submitting to it willingly. There’s nothing game-changing or surprising here – it’s no secret from us that Obi has embraced this new lifestyle and feels considerable affection for his master (and Shirayuki even more so). But it’s still a breezily entertaining episode even if it is a placeholder, with the real final arc beginning next week. The elephant in the room with Akagami no Shirayukihme is obvious, and the seemingly impracticable nature of their relationship begs to be addressed.