Now this is what I’ve been hoping for! This episode was terrific in terms of storyline. So many things happened at once, and finally the building-up of the previous half year is paying ff. But still, it’s so sad to see that the budget-problems become more and more apparent. Such a major episode should be paired with terrific animation, like what we saw around the climax of the first half of the second season. Instead, the creators treated us to lots of distance-shots, thick lines and still frames. I really don’t like the trend that MadHouse has been setting to screw up their adaptations as they draw near their end! I mean, they’ve got excellent staff, but I’m getting more and more the feeling that it’s their producers who are incredibly lazy.
Well, putting that aside, another reason why I loved this episode was because it again was quite easy to understand. The ship with Ensei, Suou, Shurei and Ryuuren crashes off a waterfall. As everyone becomes conscious again, Ryuuren goes off to find some springs for water, after which Shun comes to pick up Shuurei, by the orders of his master. His orders were to take just Shuurei away, so Ensei and Suou stay behind and collect supplies for the way back.
As Shuurei and Shun walk up the mountain to the castle, Shuurei asks whether he’s heard about Shiba Jin, though Shun says that she had the wrong person. The two then enter the castle, and Shun brings Shurei to the prison cell where Ryuuki lies. Shuurei is really glad to see that he’s fine, though before she has the time to call out to him, Shusui appears, using the same spell that failed, twenty episodes ago. Shuurei then falls unconscious and gets taken away.
We then switch to Ryuuki, who’s finally woken up. Right next to him stands a Shusui, who claims that she’s possessed by a member of the Hyou-clan, which is why she’s acting so weird. I guess she was an easy target for them, because she already lost herself before. In any case, Shusui begins to taunt Ryuuki at how he’s incompetent at his job, and how he should just give up. After this, Ryuki begins to develop even more. That night on the mountains has really convinced him what an idiot he’s been, and he’s determined to now become a real king.
Then, Ran appears. It indeed seems that he’s been following Ryuuki all along, and after hearingt his confession, he decides to step in and save Ryuuki from Shushui. After this, the Hyou-member orders Shun to take care of Ryuuki, leaving the body afterwards. Shusui then turns into her fighter-mode again and starts chasing after Shuuei. Juusanhime also arrives to stop her, after which quite a funny conversation follows, where Shuuei ends up using a dirty trick to remind Shusui of Shouka. After a few slaps from Shuuei, Shusui returns to normal.
Juusanhime then stays to fight Shun, while Shuuei, Ryuuki and Shusui escape. When they are out of the castle, Shusui goes back in to save Shuurei. Shuuei then brings Ryuuki back to Suou, and goes back along with Ryuren to save Shuurei. Ensei went ahead of them, as he seemed to have the same idea. As Ryuuki wakes up, he wants to go back to save Shuurei, though Suou stops him. After all, he’s the king and everyone just went through the trouble of saving him. After hearing this, he finally understands a new part of his responsibilities.
Meanwhile, back in the castle Shuurei is still unconscious. The member of the Ryou-clan seems to be called Ruka, and it was basically her plan to use Ryuuki to lure the Bara-hime in Shuurei towards her. It’s here where Shouka in scary-mode appears again, and breaks some kind of mirror that’s important for Ruka. Strangely enough, Ruka doesn’t seem to be shocked by this, so at least something must have gone according to her plan. In another part of the Castle, Juusanhime now gets the chance to finally say goodbye to Shiba Jin, as it really seems that he works for the enemy and he’s out to kill Ryuuki. That scene seriously rocked.
There’s one thing I don’t understand, though: what’s the real relationship between Shun and Shusui? Where did they meet each other? Is Shun the reason Shusui gets possessed? Which Shusui went along with Shun to the castle? Did she come on her own accord, or was she already possessed by Ruka back then?
In any case, let’s hope that the final two episodes end the second season with a bang, so that the creators can return in a year or two to finish this story. With such a fan-base, there’s a good chance that it’ll happen some day. But then again, Claymore was even more popular, needed a second season even more badly and there are still no signs of any continuation… which leaves me kind-of worried.