Sophie’s search for her brother Martin takes her away from the crime and filth of the city and into the sleepy suburbs. In her mind, the police won’t take Martin’s disappearance seriously. In actuality, they probably just have no leads. It’s not their fault their memories get wiped every single time a Makai Knight quells the latest Horror of the week. And if Horrors are truly behind Martin’s disappearance, then it’s really out of the police’s hands anyway. Sophie can only turn to Sword for help, but even then, she’s run out of leads. Luckily, her roommate fills her in on a rumor regarding the mysterious disappearance of Father Ripley. As we all know, rumors are always true, and if Sophie pays Ripley’s home a visit, she’s sure to bump into Sword sooner or later.
I subtitled this post “The talented Mr. Ripley” just to reference a film adaptation of a novel by the same name. In actuality, anime Ripley is a loser who beats his sister, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves. In the suburbs, Sophie finds Marie, Ripley’s younger sister. Neighbors describe the latter as sickly but beautiful. Unfortunately, she rarely shows herself in public anymore since Ripley’s disappearance. Still, Marie seems friendly enough as she happily invites a stranger into her own home. She and Sophie quickly bond over their shared tragedy; both their brothers have gone missing under mysterious circumstances. In another universe, this might be the start of a long and touching friendship. But Sophie’s hunch bears fruit when they hear a knock at the door.
Sword has arrived with a bouquet full of fresh flowers for Miss Marie. After checking the sickly woman out, he offers her a shoulder to lean on. “I know things can get tough for a single woman living alone” says Sword. Hear that, ladies? You all need a strappin’ lad in your life. Preferably one with a talking bike. In the background, Sophie can only stare in disbelief. But she should know better. Trouble follows Sword wherever he goes. Well, that’s not really fair of me. Even if he is a lecherous bastard, Sword always does his job and he does his job well. We’ve no reason to think he’s a screw-up. If he’s here, he’s here on a mission. A Horror cannot be far off, and his mild flirtation appears to be the trigger. I can only wonder how he knows. What led Sword here, and why does he know exactly how to draw out the Horror lurking within?
There’s a strange moment just earlier in the episode. Sophie looks upon a picture of Marie, and praises the woman for her beauty: “You’re so pretty, even now.” But Marie denies it; in her eyes, she’s no longer beautiful. To the audience, however, she looks no different than what we can see in the photograph. As we’ve come to expect, things are not always what they seem. Soon enough, Marie’s facade begins to crumble. Father Ripley was no saint. Rather, he was jealous of other men, so he kept his beautiful sister from living her life. He robbed her of her youth and kept her locked away in the basement. Over the years, her sadness would bloom into resentment, and she soon became a Horror. When Marie attempts to steal Sophie’s youth, the young girl escapes to the basement. There, she stumbles upon a dried out husk of Ripley’s head. He has become like the flowers that Marie now dutifully preserves.
It’s interesting how victims of trauma will prevent themselves from healing by reliving the horrific acts that they used to endure. At first glance, there’s nothing morbid about Marie’s hobby. It’s perfectly ordinary: she plants and grows flowers, then when they are at full bloom — when they are at their most beautiful — she plucks them from the ground and bundles them, hanging them upside down to dry in her home. In doing so, Marie preserves the flowers’ beauty for as long as she can. But knowing her past, we now see how her hobby disturbingly resembles her brother’s abuse. Rather than letting Marie enjoy her youth and age gracefully, he cut her life short, then “hung her to dry.” He preserves her beauty for himself to enjoy and enjoy alone. Even now, after he is long dead, Marie forces herself to suffer this abuse again and again through her hobby.
Did Marie become a Horror before she killed Ripley or after? Did she become a Horror because she was imprisoned, or did she become one because she couldn’t move on even after exacting her revenge (the torture equipment in the basement was certainly put to good use)? Maybe Marie thinks she can steal those flowers’ beauty and restore her youth. In any case, Sword quickly shows up to save the day. The battle against Marie is not particularly remarkable as victory is assured, and no one is ever in any real danger (despite Sophie’s close call). In the end, Sword cleaves the Horror in two and rides off with the girl in tow. But what about the house filled with torture equipment and Ripley’s head? What about the big mess from the fallen church bell and Zaruba crashing into a small, nearby building? Eh, I’m sure Luke will show up at some point to clean it all up. Marie suffered a painful life, and people will hardly know she ever existed.
Stray thoughts and observations:
— Sophie says she’s from Russell City, RS. RS? What the hell is an RS? Look, I see the zip code 92084 on Thomas Ripley’s bio. That’s clearly Vista, CA. You can’t fool me!
— Why does Martin look so sinister here?
— In one of Marie’s flashbacks, I love the way her suitor hands her flowers, then runs away in a hurry. HEREYOUMA’AMOKAYTHANKSBYE
— They should’ve just named her Maria, so I can pretend I’m watching one of my dramatic soaps.
— I half-expected Sword to rev the hell out of his bike and zoom off after Zaruba uttered this line. Sometimes I wish Garo would just embrace the camp.
— The girl should finish the entire basket of bread?
— I shouldn’t laugh. Domestic abuse isn’t funny. But c’mon, a father cold-clocking his sister out of nowhere is kinda funny.
— Wait, the barricade to the basement is on the inside?
— This looks like it should’ve seriously injured Sophie.