Since this is the last episode, I’m going to avoid the usual jocular tone that I take with this series. Instead, I’m going to try to honestly and seriously sum up my thoughts about Aoi and her story.
— As you might have expected, the dreaded umi-bouzu is just a lonely, misunderstood boy. We leave him alone because we think he wants to be left alone. Looking at the umi-bouzu, Aoi can’t help but be reminded of how lonely she was as a child. So the moral here is to question everything, including firmly-held traditions.
— On the other hand, am I supposed to pity the umi-bouzu? I mean, c’mon, I don’t think being lonely is a good justification for wrecking an entire region full of people. But hey, that’s anime for ya! Imagine if some lonely guy shot up a university campus just because he wasn’t getting laid… ha… ha…
— So how do you cheer up a sad, little boy? Orange chicken straight outta Panda Express!
— When Aoi takes a sip of the alcohol, she gets to see the umi-bouzu’s past, but it’s just more of the same. Lonely, lonely boy who we should pity. Lonely, lonely boy who is very much like little Aoi. Whatever. There’s no need to belabor the point. I understand that this is a way for the story to come full circle, tying the umi-bouzu to Aoi’s origin story. At this point, however, I’m just done. I’m done with this show and I’m ready for it to be over. I’m sick and tired of Aoi’s childhood being brought up every other episode. I’m equally sick and tired of her obsession over her mysterious “benefactor.”
— The solution is to eat together like one big family. And when the umi-bouzu offers her a bite, Aoi gets her sense of taste back. Cool, cool, great, let’s get a move on. Eventually, even Ginji and Ranmaru join in.
— Even though Aoi has made a new friend, this is still rather bittersweet. By the time the umi-bouzu returns to visit them, the girl will probably be long dead.
— When the umi-bouzu finally departs in the morning, it still inadvertently causes a huge wave to crash onto the beach. This ends up washing Aoi out to sea, which prompts Ginji to heroically dive after her.
— During her brief moment of unconsciousness, Aoi finally remembers seeing her “benefactor” removing his mask and thus revealing Ginji’s face. So it was Ginji all along! Eh… not quite. When these two are back on solid ground, the girl wants to know why the fox ayakashi has been keeping his identity a secret. He confesses, however, that while he did check up on her when she was a child, he wasn’t the only one. Also, he was following someone else’s orders. Who? Well, he’s not at liberty to say, but c’mon… who do you think it is? Sigh…
— Elsewhere, Odanna promises Raiju that he would make the latter’s life a living hell if he continues to bug Aoi. So there’s that, I guess. I still think the psychopath should be locked up since he’s more than happy to doom thousands and thousands of lives just because he’s bored, but I guess this isn’t how ayakashi like to handle their business.
— In the aftermath, Tenjin-ya and Orio-ya become friends. Ginji and Ranmaru also fully repair their relationship, promising to make the next ceremony a much happier affair. Ultimately, however, Ginji will be returning to Tenjin-ya.
— Last but not least, Odanna praises Aoi for doing a great job. Unlike with Ginji, she feels no urgency to ask him about the past. Rather, she just tells him that she needs to repay his kindness one day. Heh, okay.
— For now, at least, everything has been restored to the status quo. Alright, time to wrap this post up.
— From my perspective, Aoi got a lot closer to Ginji over the course of the series. If this was a competition for her heart, he didn’t technically win it… but he’s closer to the finish line than Odanna. The ogre master often flirted with the heroine, but his attempts always felt as if his tongue was planted firmly in cheek.
— But in the end, she didn’t really choose anybody. Hell, the question was never really raised. Is that frustrating? Well, yes and no. As someone who consumes these stories one after the other, some sort of finality would be nice. If you are less than charitable, you might even accuse Aoi of being either too wishy-washy or dense with regards to the matters of the heart.
— I think, however, we often forget that love and romance take time. We may very well be in the formative stages of Aoi’s new life in the Hidden Realm, and as a result, her relationships with these two men — ayakashi men, that is — are still very much platonic. Both Odanna and Ginji have proven to her that she can rely on them. They’ve proven that when the going gets tough, they’ll always be there to pick her up. That is one type of love, but not necessarily romantic love. Right from the beginning, however, we’re primed for a love story. We think that the girl must eventually choose one of these two suitable bachelors, so our expectations are skewed. Aoi and Ginji have become close friends… and maybe Odanna too. But that’s it. Read the light novels if you want to see where her story goes, I suppose.
— Should Aoi’s adventures in the Hidden Realm receive another anime adaptation, however, I don’t think I would be there to watch it. Obviously, you can tell that I did not enjoy Kakuriyo no Yadomeshi all that much. I only blogged it from start to finish out some of sheer stubbornness and the fact that Mondays are usually lacking in terms of content.
— At times, I found Aoi really… well, really just not smart. That’s the kindest way to put it. To make matters even worse, she doesn’t really have the support cast to prop her up. Ginji is a nice boy. He is. At the same time, however, he’s just so goddamn boring. Each and every single one of these nice, soft-spoken characters in anime are always so boring. Sure, he has a “dark” side. He gets angry if you hurt Aoi. That’s about it, though. On the other hand, Odanna might have more substance to him, but “might” is precisely the problem. Maybe what we don’t see — i.e. what is reserved for the light novels — will flesh out this guy’s backstory and characterization, but at the moment, his only defining characteristic is that he’s largely enigmatic. Aoi doesn’t know him that well and neither do we. So when it comes right down to it, your choice is between a very nice but boring boy and a man who seemingly has all the answers but his attendance rate is lacking. Odanna is always flitting off to some distant location to do god knows what.
— The cooking aspect was never quite satisfactory, because it felt too magical. Aoi never had to grow or develop as a chef. She was brilliant at cooking right from the get go. If you hand her anything, she would magically whip up the most amazing, pants-dropping meal. Other than facing an empty Moonflower for a brief period of time early on in the series, our heroine never really had to struggle in the kitchen. For a tale that mostly hinges on her ability to cook her way out of trouble, this just seems really uninspiring and lazy.
Final grade: D