Finally, a plot-laden episode for once that doesn’t deal with Akashi’s feelings. And what’s the juicy plot we’ve been wating for? “We even forgot that we were the ones who created the Lightless Realm.” Yep, that’s the “bombshell” in this week’s episode. But y’know, that’s always the twist in these sort of stories. When something dark and horrible appears, the truth will somehow always come down to “Man’s corrupt nature is truly responsible for this mess.” I’m not saying it’s a bad trope, but it’s so overused by this point that I don’t have any confidence in M3 pulling it off. I mean, Okada’s botched everything else in this show. Now that we’re only hearing the truth behind the creation of the Lightless Realm, I expect the story to feel rushed with many elements left unexplained.
Anyway, when Akashi asks Tsugumi what she and Minashi even mean by this, Tsugumi shows him and Mahmu a vision of their past. We thus see a bunch of men in hazmat-like suits setting fire to an entire village. That’s another thing, too. Lots of these Japanese “horror” stories often involve quaint villages in the countryside in some form or fashion. I suppose it’s similar to a The Hills Have Eyes sort of thing that we have in the West. Beware! You have no idea what sort of fucked-up shit occurs in the countryside! Same thing here, I guess. Most villagers, I’m sure, are very nice people, but we seem to like to think they’re harboring some sort of dark, twisted secret from the rest of the world. Oh, what about us? See, we’re too busy enjoying the decadent lifestyles in the big city to have secrets! Those villagers, though…
According to Tsugumi, she, her sister Sasame, and Minashi were all born on Yomijima, some island. Not only that, Tsugumi and Sasame used to be priestesses, but we kinda saw that already in an older flashback. Like every fucked-up village in anime, these people worshiped a peculiar sort of deity, but not only that, they could call forth their deity too! Oh man, villagers with their crazy powers. I wonder why us city folks are so incapable compared to them. Our two priestesses are then told to revive the Corpse from a “Lightless Stone,” a chunk of fuchsia-colored rock. This way, they can take revenge on IX and “bring Admonitions down on those sinners.” Makes sense. Wipe out my village, will ya? I’ll just create this bizarre Lightless Realm that’ll take even more lives. The anime still won’t tell us why IX had to torch the village and thus escalate this nonsense into the creation of the Lightless Realm. I’m sure the show will tell us eventually, but it’s just a matter of when. I really hope they don’t drag this out. Still, there are some clues.
For instance, the villagers seemingly have the ability to communicate with each other telepathically. I wonder how the rest of the cast got this power too. Maybe through osmosis. Since IX dealt with “ability development” of some sort, they probably took a keen interest in the village and its people’s telepathic abilities (among other things). Still, this doesn’t come close to telling us why IX not only torched the entire village, by why they even had the authority to do such a thing. You don’t just murder an entire group of people. That sort of thing needs clearance, y’know? Ah well… We later see the kids attempt to sneak the Corpse, still in its child-like form, into Tokyo. Then once they had found IX’s headquarters, they brought forth the Lightless Realm in some park, but that’s when the rest of the cast — y’know, Akashi, Iwato, Raika, et al — stumbled upon the three of them. The anime will now try to tell me that Tsumugi fell deeply in love with Akashi from this one chance encounter alone.
So afterwards, the kids had fun playing with each other without any adult supervision. The show makes it seem like they hung out for days upon days upon days. What did they eat? Where did they sleep? Where they did they bathe? Oh wait, the anime does bother to answer that question. Apparently, there’s a convenient hot springs in their vicinity. According to anime, i can walk a mile in any direction and find myself some hot springs to bathe in. Anyway, the rest of the kids — y’know, not the weirdos from the village — eventually found out that the city had been majorly fucked by the Lightless Realm. I’m sure this ended up breaking their minds. I mean, Heito was a positively sane child back then! Look what you’ve done, you crazy villagers!
Not surprisingly, the kids flipped their shit and tried to run home. Without the protection of the glowing tree, however, they succumbed to the effects of the Lightless Realm. Minashi and Sasame were then forced to run around, slipping fruits from the Arbonine into the kids’ pockets. Where wasTsugumi in all of this? Still trying to play hide-and-seek. When she stopped counting and looked for her friends, she found them all missing. So what did she do? Feel deeply and thoroughly betrayed by her friends’ actions because they were gone for just a short bit. But y’see, they all promised not to abandon her! So by literally being gone for maybe an hour at most, it’s proof that they broke their promise! I’m not even joking. This was literally her reaction:
It’s so fucking dumb. “All of you are children of sin,” Tsugumi says, “Everything is all your fault.” ‘Cause she stopped counting down for hide-and-seek, and couldn’t find them for a while. That was it! That was enough for our priestess from some crazy village to go all yandere on everyone. It’s just too much of a leap. We barely know what Tsugumi was like as a child, but I’m just supposed to accept the fact that she felt deeply betrayed over not being able to locate her friends afterwards. The flashback then sort of ends there, so we don’t really learn how the children escaped, especially with Tsugumi bearing down on them on that Corpse. But this does sort of imply that Tsugumi has, well, been living in this Lightless Realm the entire time. She’s not dead or anything, right?
Again, what has she been eating? What has she been doing in her spare time? Just sit around, thinking about Akashi for the past ten or something years? These may seem like minor questions, but the add to the show’s overall immersion. If I can’t answer these questions reasonably enough, then I can’t help but feel as though I’ve been taken out of the story. Hell, what’s even the point of all of this? They’ve taken their revenge on the city folk. Now what? Just sit there with the Lightless Realm and let it slowly expand? To what purpose? Ultimately, what has been Tsugumi’s motivation this entire time? Just wait until Akashi eventually made his way back to her? What if he never did? Or did she just somehow know he would? Even when M3 has a big blowout episode that tries to answer a lot of the story’s questions, something just feels dissatisfying about it all. The characters’ actions just don’t feel well thought-out.
Meanwhile, Admonitions are now attacking the IX headquarters. This guy — who is he, the CEO? — even bites the dust. Unfortunately, but naturally, Natsuiri escapes. Even when an Admonition chases him down, Raika dives headfirst into the danger to save the evil bastard. Iwato even said it himself, “We don’t need to save people like him.” But I guess Raika just saw this as her one chance to play the hero. She’s been relegated to the sidelines now for weeks and weeks on end. As a result, she drags Iwato into the fight, too. Predictably enough, his mecha gets impaled by one of the Admonition’s spike. Welp. Raika always wanted to be a hero, right? I’m sure she’s about to get an MA-Vess for herself very soon. Even as the guy is dying, she has to go, “If only I could pilot an MA-Vess.” The girl realizes what she’s said and tries to take it back, but it’s too laaaaaaate. Self-sacrifice, son! It’s how anime characters express their love!
Anyway, don’t you guys feel as though we should’ve gotten this episode a long, long time ago? Doesn’t M3 feel as though it should’ve just been a one-cour anime series? I just don’t see why they felt the need to stretch this out for so many episodes when, ultimately, the story isn’t even that complicated or complex. Okada simply withheld information for us for four straight months, then decided to answer almost everything within a single episode. Sure, we still have questions, but there’s no reason we couldn’t have seen this sixteenth episode, well, ten episodes ago.