Geez, why don’t you two just get a room?
— Aoi and her two canine buddies head into the painting, and it’s all black and white in there. The animals, however, get to be colorful. This is apparently due to the Hourai tree branch.
— So let’s recap: this painted world is full of fog and illusions. Illusions that will try and lure you to your death. Not only that, our canine bros can’t stay in here too long, because the world saps their spiritual energy. Last but not least, the tree that they’re looking for is at the top of the mountain. Brilliant, isn’t it? Let’s store our family’s sacred treasure in a death trap.
— Alright, fine, we have a dangerous mission ahead of us, and if we don’t get the job done, the southern realm will be wrecked again by the umi-bouzu. We should try to get this done as quickly and efficiently as possible right? Wrong. Both Ginji and Ranmaru continue to snipe at each other like spoiled children. Mind you, these two are hundreds of years old. Sure, you age slower in the Hidden Realm, but these two are still immature as hell.
— Eventually, it starts raining, so the group tries to take shelter within a cabin full of books. The ever restless Ranmaru decides to scout the area by himself, so when he returns, he’s turned into a puppy. Well, at least his new look matches his level of maturity.
— So what does Aoi do? She gives him a bowl of cocoa. I was like, “Yo, chocolate is bad for dogs!” Well, it turns out that the anime was thinking the exact same thing, ’cause this warning came up. But why even choose cocoa at all? Is this a goddamn camping trip?
— There’s some extra lore about the umi-bouzu, but it’s not important.
— When the rain lets up a bit, the group sees a streak of rainbow colors in the sky, so they decide to chase after it. After a bit of a walk, however, the canine bros are at it again. It’s tiring. Aoi has it tough as a dogsitter. As for me, I just don’t have much to work with. Previous episodes had the characters do stupid things that I could at least poke fun at. This episode, however, is just really flat and dull.
— Well, it’s time for yet another meal break, so Aoi serves up roast beef sandwiches. This may seem pedestrian, but she can’t taste anything at the moment. And y’know, it’s hard to screw up a sandwich. Even Ranmaru reluctantly admits that they taste good.
— Anyways, Ranmaru leaves once more to scout. He just can’t sit still. He’s like an overexcited dog visiting a park for the first time.
— As a result, it’s time for more boring exposition. Ginji kinda tells us what happened 300 years ago, but not really. Y’see, Raiju had insulted Princess Iso, which pissed Ginji off. When he tried to say something about it, it was then Raiju’s turn to get pissed off. So he just left. He was supposed to help them find the tree branch, but he bailed on them. The rest is history.
— The takeaway here is that Ranmaru turned into a hardass, because he didn’t want to fail again. Deep down inside, Ginji understood that, but he still left Orio-ya anyways. Although he doesn’t regret coming to Tenjin-ya, it does feel guilty for abandoning someone that he considers to be his brother. This would be really touching and heart-wrenching if either of these characters have been well-developed by the story, but they’re not so… yeah.
— Basically, Ginji hopes that he can one day mend the relationship between him and Ranmaru. He just hasn’t quite summoned up the courage to do so. Plus, they’re so busy with the ceremony that there’s little time to talk about their feelings. Aoi, however, assures him that everything will turn out fine in the end. But secretly, she’s afraid that Ginji will want to stay with Orio-ya if this is the case.
— As someone who has consumed anime for decades, I doubt she has anything to worry about. This sort of sophomoric writing typically avoids taking risks, and as a result, things never really change. By the end of this long arc, we’ll be right back to the status quo. And what’s the status quo? Aoi, Odanna, and Ginju back at Tenjin-ya while we continue to wonder who fed saved the girl’s life all those years ago.
— Speaking of that ayakashi, Aoi finally remembers to ask Ginji about it. All we see is this shocked look on the guy’s face, but that’s probably because he suddenly sees Princess Iso in the fog. That’s right, Aoi finally remembers to ask the damn question, and she gets rudely interrupted by stupid magical fog shenanigans.
— Ginji is almost tricked by the illusion, but Aoi brings him back to his senses. As a result, they are now worried that Ranmaru might fall for the same trick.
— We then cut to Ranmaru, and he also sees Princess Iso in the fog. He thus follows her, and had Ginji and Aoi not suddenly called out to him, he would’ve walked himself right off a cliff. Look, I get what they’re going for, but look, how dumb can you be? I miss my late grandfather, sure. But if I suddenly saw him on a foggy road one day, do you think my stupid ass would go, “Gee, let’s follow this ghost wherever it goes!” Hell no. My grandfather is dead. That shit ain’t gonna change. For these characters, if they had instead seen, like, an illusion of the tree that they were looking for, I can understand being fooled. But their precious Princess Iso has been dead since the last failed ceremony (i.e., 300 years ago). Not only that, why the hell would she show up in Nounin’s magical painting?
— Anyways, even though Ranmaru doesn’t fall off a cliff, that doesn’t mean Aoi can’t! She didn’t even get tricked either! She was just being careless and played herself!
— Ranmaru dives after her and turns into his giant animal form. I assume he does this in order to break her fall. When we next see these two, the guy is back in his puppy form.
— He then acts as if Ginji wouldn’t have cared if he died, but Aoi corrects him. She then talks about how she had met Princess Iso in the Dragon Palace, yadda yadda yadda. I’m getting pretty bored now, so I’m trying to wrap this up.
— So Ranmaru tells her that they should try to reach the summit anyways, ’cause if Ginji truly understands him, then that’s where they would meet up.
— So we get to the summit, and it’s covered in rainbow clam shells. Why? Shrug. Still, the tree is right in front of us, so let’s just get this done and over with.
— Ginji eventually shows up, but he too is out of spiritual energy. As a result, the two ayakashi turn into puppies essentially and hug it out. Great.
— Finally, Aoi goes to snap off a branch from the tree, and they can all leave. Just as she is getting sucked back into the real world, she suddenly sees Odanna telling her to do her best. Considering how the Princess Iso illusion tried to get these characters killed, I doubt Odanna here is an illusion… but you never know! After all, if he’s not an illusion, then what is he doing here?
— Back in the Hidden Realm, everyone is thankful that the trio have made it back. The two ayakashi will have to go to the infirmary to recover their spiritual energy, though. Meanwhile, the crane twins tell Aoi that even though she can’t taste a goddamn thing, they still want her to cook the dishes made from ocean treasure. This is like one of those group projects gone bad. They’re all in this together, but Aoi pretty much has to do everything.
— Last week’s episode had the hilariously dumb Raiju to make fun of. This week’s episode was just a snore.