It’s time to learn a thing or two about Kuro’s past.
— Kotoko remarks to herself that Kuro looks completely unfazed against Steel Lady Nanase. ‘Cause he can’t die, right? I dunno, even if I was immortal, I think I’d be pretty damn nervous to face a ghost. I definitely would be scared of a steel beam coming right at my head. Essentially, there is something off about Kuro. Not only does he not flinch at pain, he doesn’t even get scared.
— Also, does it seem as though ever since he broke up with Saki, Kuro has given up on trying to act human? Maybe he doesn’t have to put up a facade around Kotoko, which would be kind of… endearing in an odd sort of way. To us, he seems cold, but you can also argue that he can act naturally around her. Unfortunately, his natural state isn’t the lovey-dovey boyfriend that she so desperately desires.
— It’s kinda silly how Kuro couldn’t hear Saki show up and scream at Kotoko. I guess his attention is completely fixated on Nanase, but it doesn’t look like he’s even that far away from the girls.
— What can Kuro possibly do against a ghost? It’s not like you can kill what’s already dead. At best, he’s just a living, breathing punching bag for her.
— “…but it doesn’t seem like she’s that much stronger than he is.” Uh, only one of them is swinging a steel beam around. Those are like what? Hundreds of pounds? Can Kuro lift even half of that?
— Nanase eventually lands a hit and smashes Kuro’s face in. With nothing to do as they wait for him to “put himself back together,” the girls stand on the sidelines and talk about his immortality. Kotoko can’t understand why Saki would find something like that so freaky. To her, this feature makes him a great future husband. After all, there’s the perception that showing any sort of weakness makes men pathetic and unattractive. Just look at all the man flu jokes that are shared so often by girlfriends and wives on social media.
— I kinda understand Saki’s fears a little bit better. His immortality itself isn’t so freaky. Hell, it’s pretty cool. But what is freaky is how a lot of his relatives have mysteriously died. There’s something messed up about his family. If my wife can magically heal from any injury, that’s pretty dope. But sorry, love’s not going to trump toxic in-laws.
— Kuro gets up and goes after Nanase again, but this time, he manages to stop just short of her attack and thus dodge it completely. He then tries to snap the ghost’s neck. Silly boy.
— Still, this brings us to Kuro’s second ability: he can look into the near-future and choose one possible outcome out of many. But similar to the mythical kudan, this power comes at a high cost: Kuro has to die. Luckily, he’s immortal.
— With this, Kotoko begins to tell the audience all about Kuro’s family. They’ve been experimenting with kudan and mermaid meat for generations without any success. But then came Kuro, who managed to survive while everyone around him died. So there you go. That’s a valid reason for not wanting to marry the guy. Can you imagine having your kid snatched away from you in order for the family to conduct their freaky experiments?
— But what happened afterwards? I’m sorry, but this many children don’t just die without consequences. According to Kotoko’s narration, his grandmother gathered kudan and mermaid meat secretly, so I have to assume that a lot of these kids’ parents — if not all of them — had no idea that she was going to experiment with their lives. But even if we grant that the entire family somehow approved of her nefarious intentions, this sort of thing doesn’t go unnoticed by outsiders. People and especially the government don’t just shrug when a bunch of kids go missing.
— It’s equally funny and sad that the grandmother killed all those innocent children then proceeded to ask Kuro for tomorrow’s weather. It once again goes to show that evil can be quite banal.
— Kuro’s grandmother continued to “experiment” on Kuro in order to test his abilities. In other words, she tortured him. Where were his parents? Unfortunately, we never meet them. We just get to meet his sickly cousin. Was she also experimented on? And if yes, does she have the same powers?
— According to Kotoko, even though the initial experiment ultimately succeeded, Kuro’s grandmother didn’t quite get what she had hoped for. This suggests that Kuro’s ability to see into the future isn’t that strong. Maybe he can’t see that far into the future. Maybe he can only see what can immediately happen, i.e. a ghost’s fatal attack This would explain why Kuro’s not under lock and key. If he’s useless to them, they may as well just let him go and live his life.
— Man, the episode is already half over. We spent all that time just on Kuro’s backstory.
— Back in the present, Kuro finally manages to snap the ghost’s neck, but much like him, Nanase just gets back up after a short while. Well, I can’t say I didn’t expect that.
— Kotoko calls Kuro back, so the malevolent specter proceeds to also disappear in a cloud of black smoke. This makes it seem like they’re both Pokemons being ordered to retreat by their masters.
— Poor Kotoko holds her arms out just for Kuro to ignore her. But they’ve been a “couple” for the past two years, right? So she should know by now what to expect from him. In other words, she’s doing this to herself. She’s letting herself get riled up and disappointed when she knows he can’t be lovey-dovey… for now.
— Luckily for her, Kuro doesn’t have much of an emotional reaction to seeing Saki either. He simply gives her a half-smile, but he looks off to the side as he does so.
— Of course, this doesn’t stop Kotoko from having a childish reaction. Maybe this is fun for her. Like Kuro, she isn’t 100% human anymore, but with him, she can act like a normal girl. Getting jealous, being clingy and overprotective… these are all pretty basic, but a girl like Kotoko probably does want to feel basic every now and then.
— Aw, poor monster cat…
— Apparently, this is how the ayakashi sees Kuro, which is why they were initially so freaked out whenever they saw him. But Nanase is different. The ghost couldn’t care less about Kuro… but Kotoko already came to this conclusion in last week’s episode.
— Nevertheless, we will now sit in a room and listen to our heroine spell everything out for her allies. “Fancy” camera angles won’t help this go down any easier. I like the series in general mostly because I like the characters, but like Zetsuen no Tempest (also by the same author), it does have a penchant for over-explaining itself. Also like Zetsuen no Tempest, this series tends to fall in love with its ideas and concepts. Granted, this sort of thing probably works better as a novel or even a manga.
— I already wrote about this extensively in previous posts, so I’ll try not to repeat myself too much. We already know what Nanase is: a product of people’s delusions — a rumor made manifest. So the only way to defeat something like that is to somehow convinced people to stop caring about her urban legend. Obviously, this is easier said than done.
— See, a ghost like the kuchisake-onna would probably be super freaky to encounter in real life, but in this form, she just looks so silly. Thanks to anime’s stylized look, we avoid that uncanny valley that often makes these human-like monsters feel so off-putting. Maybe Junji Ito can still pull it off, but not your bread-and-butter anime series.
— The Internet is at fault! Lousy Internet… but more specifically, the actual bad guy is the person behind that Steel Lady Nanase wiki. At the end of the day, we may live in a world full of monsters… but humans are the true monsters! Ha, I can’t type that with a straight face anymore. It’s an age-old cliche. Sure, it’s an effective cliche — exploring humanity’s unavoidable compulsion to do evil — but it’s a cliche nonetheless.