This show has three recurring subplots: cooking food, figuring out which ayakashi had saved her from starvation when she was abandoned by her mother, and last but not least, getting herself into trouble so that one of the show’s many bishies can save her. This episode is no different.
— As a reminder, Aoi has been requested to cook for royalty. Even though her restaurant has only been popular for a week, her reputation has reached the Imperial Court. I guess news travel fast in the hidden realm.
— Cats are cute. I like cats. I just wish they had used actual cat sounds for these cat ayakashi. Instead, you have a bunch of voice actors squealing into the mic and pretending to be a cat, and it’s cringey as fuck to listen to.
— Every bishie has a good side, and Byakuya is no different. Predictably enough, he likes these cats. Too bad this show is tropey as all hell, so he’s also embarrassed to be seen doting on the cute ayakashi. Dude, pet those animals and be proud. Ain’t no shame in it.
— I’m familiar with the inugami (thanks Shin Megami Tensei!), but I’ve never seen a tube cat before.
— These poor cats have no hind legs, so they’re kinda just like… cat-shaped sperm.
— Apparently, Aoi’s grandfather used to blackmail Byakuya. That’s one more piece of evidence for the “Shiro was an asshole” column.
— Of course, our heroine isn’t going to blackmail the guy. She’s just going to ask Byakuya all about the royal couple.
— Still, you’d think said royal couple would’ve sent over a list of their likes and dislikes when they made the request for Aoi. I mean, what did the wife do? Did she simply exclaim, “I wanna eat her food,” then left it at that?
— The wife was born in the early Showa period? That would make her pretty old, wouldn’t it? Or did I forget some crucial fact like how people age slower her or something?
— Aoi hears that the couple used to dine at Western-style restaurants, so she decides to make them beef stew or fried cutlet? Really? That’s so homey.
— Don’t get me wrong, though. There’s nothing wrong with beef stew. In fact, I love to make it once a month with my crock pot. But that’s the thing: anyone can make beef stew. You don’t go out to a restaurant to eat beef stew! You don’t request a chef to come all the way out to the Imperial Court to make beef stew!
— Ginji always magically provides Aoi with all the ingredients she needs. If he doesn’t have them on hand, he knows exactly where to get them. It’s almost kinda creepy how he’s always lurking around the corner, just waiting to spring into action.
— There’s a “foreign delicacy market” for what Aoi needs. Do you think they would carry Twinkies?
— Odanna doesn’t want Aoi to go alone, because obviously, it’s dangerous for her. That’s not an exaggeration either. This is not a “stop being such an overprotective boyfriend” situation. When certain ayakashi realize that Aoi is human, they literally want to eat her. So yeah, I actually understand Odanna’s position. He’s busy with a important meeting tomorrow, so if she goes alone, he can’t keep her, y’know, alive.
— Nevertheless, our heroine wants to go tomorrow! She just has to!!! Like… why? Can’t it wait? Does she really need to shop tomorrow or the whole royal dinner is going to go down in flames? Or is this just another cause of Aoi being far too careless?
— It’s actually kinda infuriating how flippant she is about this. This is not her world. This is not her people. She doesn’t quite understand that her life is at stake. Aoi is annoyingly stupid.
— Unfortunately, Odanna is not too bright himself. When she compares him to her late grandfather, the guy loses his nerve. Uguu, don’t compare me to a dead, old human! Pa-the-tic.
— This is hilarious. Odanna makes a very reasonable suggestion: why not just let Ginji get the ingredients by himself? After all, he’s already used to doing this for Aoi. But no, our heroine insists that she must get to choose the ingredients herself! It’s a special dinner, so it’s only special if she literally gropes each ingredient with her bare hands!
— Aoi then reveals her latest trick: “Look, if you let me risk my life, I’ll give you this bento.” I… I can’t even, man.
— He also tells her to stay by Ginji’s side at all times. Do it. Make sure you goddamn do it! Never go anywhere alone! Just watch… she’ll ignore said advice.
— What frustrates me is that nobody’s willing to be the bad cop. No one ever really yells at Aoi when she fucks up. Even when Byakuya summoned her to talk about the restaurant’s poor finances, he didn’t really yell at her. He just reminded the girl that she would have to marry Odanna if her eatery kept doing poorly. Aoi can get herself into all sorts of trouble, and all these bishies will do is smile at her. People only learn from their mistakes if there are consequences. I bet they did the same thing with Shiro, too. Oh, they’ll complain about him now, but they were probably gutless in front of him.
— Oh look, another golden opportunity for a dokidoki moment. Our dear girl is deathly afraid of thunder and lightning, and this forces her right into Odanna’s arms. I like how in these stories, the girl will always have one major phobia that disarms her.
— Anyways, the story uses this situation to tease us with the whole “Is Odanna the one who helped Aoi back then?” Gosh, I dunno! Is it? Isn’t this mystery just so delicious?! It’s stupid, though. ‘Cause I dunno about the hidden realm, but I bet it’s got plenty of hours in a day! Maybe even twenty-four hours! And in one of those hours, Aoi could’ve just easily been like, “Hey, when I was a kid, I almost died, but this ayakashi saved me — you wouldn’t happen to know anything about that, wouldja?” Bam, done, finito, we can thus move onto a different subplot. But no, I bet you anything that the author is content to dangle this one goddamn subplot in front of us for the rest of the series. As a result, every recent episode has Aoi going “Uguu, is… is he the one?” Fucking ask him, dude! Move your mouth! Vibrate those vocal cords!
— Speaking of just coming out and asking the guy…
Uh huh… go on…
Why would you stop?! WHY WOULD YOU STOP?! What is wrong with you?!
— I have a hard time believing that Odanna’s “overprotectiveness” honestly reminds her of her grandfather considering how he put his own granddaughter up as collateral.
— “He doesn’t want me to be eaten, so he’s treating me like a child!” I’m rolling my eyes so hard right now. Aoi literally thinks she’s just going down to the local Whole Foods or some shit. C’mon, what’s the big deal! I’m just buying groceries!
— Byakuya wants to know why Odanna gave her permission, but we already know. Bribed by a bento, my guy, bribed by a goddamn bento…
— “She was so serious! Dude, you don’t even know!” Yeah, whatever you wanna say to save face.
— Then we slow fade from the stern-looking Odanna to this dumb-looking face. I’m laughing my ass off right now.
— Oh shit, I must be on drugs, ’cause I’m tripping out.
— The boisterous market in the eastern land looks just the same as every other boisterous market in anime.
— Is it that much of a hassle to just send Aoi back to the human world in order to procure the ingredients that she needs? Odanna already knows that she’d return.
— So just because Ginji likes curry, she can’t help but wonder if he’s the one! Gimme a break.
— Later that day, Aoi sees this ayakashi who is literally glowing in the middle of the street. The mysterious girl suddenly smiles and floats away. Guess what happens next. Go on, guess. If you guessed “she will carelessly leave Ginji’s side and get herself in trouble,” congrats!
— This time, however, the story acts as though Aoi couldn’t help herself. Her legs just moved on her own outta magic. Gosh, I guess we can’t lay all the blame on the girl!
— When our heroine recovers her senses, she finds herself locked in a storeroom. She’s missing Odanna’s necklace. So much for its supposed protective powers.
— A disembodied voice also tells the girl that she’s trapped here for the next two days, because they don’t want her to cook for the royal couple. Two days? So she could’ve waited a day and gone shopping with Odanna instead? That’s it! I’m putting all the blame right back on the girl!
— Oh hey, she’s stuck in a dark space, and it’s storming outside. Time to freak out.