Sometimes, even the closest friends will eventually drift apart and go their separate ways.
— Even in the beastman world, domestic disputes are pretty much the same.
— Michiru doesn’t know the origins of Ginrou-sama, so Jem quickly seizes the opportunity to change the subject. As a result, we also get to learn a thing or two about the mythical silver wolf. Apparently, there used to be peaceful coexistence between beastmen and humans, but… well, y’know, humans just gotta human. In the past, Ginrou had always been to save his kind… or so the legend goes. Needless to say, we’ve seen Ginrou before. He showed up right before that big celebration in the very first episode. I think it’s pretty damn obvious who Ginrou is: Shirou. Why he’s hiding his true identity, however, remains a mystery.
— Since Shirou is Ginrou, he doesn’t bother to pay his respects to the religious practice of worshiping the wolf. As a result, he nonchalantly bites into one of the offerings much to Michiru’s clueless dismay. It makes sense; he’s not gonna worship himself.
— Michiru starts making fun of Shirou for not having friends, and this naturally segues into her bragging about her best friend. We then get to see a flashback about her and Nazuna, a girl who dreams of becoming an idol. The latter is somewhat of an egomaniac: “I don’t want someone to choose me. I want to do the choosing.”
— The scene ends with Michiru making a rather prophetic claim: “Let’s reach the top! We can become anything we want!” In a way, this has come true. Michiru kinda has all sorts beastman powers coursing through her veins, so she kinda does become whatever she needs to be in order to get herself out of sticky situations. And I bet Nazuna might have a similar ability as a beastman…
— Well, one thing leads to another, and before you know it, Michiru has to peddle useless junk to the poor inhabitants of the slums in order to pay off her debt to Marie. She really has to stop associating with that mink. Plus, what is the mink gonna do if the tanuki refuses to pay up? Expose herself by going to the authorities?
— It sounds like Jackie, one of Michiru’s baseball teammates, had stolen some money to buy a water filter (which, of course, doesn’t work). The beastman was about to burn Jackie at the stake when a bunch of cultists crashes the party.
— And suddenly, Ginrou-sama has appeared before us! Except we’ve seen Ginrou, and that’s not what Ginrou looks like. Naturally, the beastmen in Anima City don’t know any better, so they quickly kneel in reverence. Oh well, at least this means Jackie’s life is spared.
— When Fake Ginrou takes a human form, Michiru realizes that the imposter is none other than her BFF. The latter goes by the name Déesse Louve these days. I wonder if the name means anything. It probably does, but I’m too lazy to look it up. I mean, it’s Memorial Day. I’m supposed to be taking a break, and yet here I am.
— The two close friends are eventually reunited, and they have a lot of catching up to do. Nazuna also teases Michiru in a way that only close friends can. I’m not sure why Michiru still denies that she’s a tanuki. Is there a stigma associated with them? All I know about the Japanese racoon dog is that Mario can turn into one in Super Mario Bros 3 (still the best Mario game to date).
— Nazuna reveals that she obviously isn’t Ginrou. Rather, she’s just a fox, and one might expect from a fox, she can shapeshift. Her cult has applied for residency in Anima City, so we quickly cut to a meeting between the mayor and Shirou. The latter thinks that the cult is bad news, but he’s pretty much distrustful of anything that might potentially upset the balance of his precious city. I don’t like cults either, but after what I’ve seen in the last few episodes, Anima City has bigger problems to solve. I mean, gangs were literally engaged in child trafficking for profit. Michiru got kidnapped in broad daylight that one time. Some weirdo cult that simply tells beastmen not to hurt each other is not that bad by comparison.
— The fox eventually gets around to telling us all about how she was taken to a mysterious lab where multiple experiments were done on her body. At one point, however, she was saved by a man named Boris. Since then, she’s been serving as the figurehead of the cult. Yeah, that’s shady, but eh… Nazuna clearly loves the position she’s in. She has always wanted to be worshiped and loved, and I guess one can easily draw parallels between cults and the fandoms that spring up around idols. Just look at some of the crazy ass BTS fans on Twitter.
— To nobody’s surprise, Michiru wants to save her best friend from the cult even though it doesn’t seem like Nazuna is in any actual danger. Shirou, however, quickly shoots that idea down. Well, our heroine is too stubborn, so she goes and infiltrates the cult all on her own. Once again, communication is an anime character’s downfall. Not one does she stop to ask Nazuna if the girl even wants to be saved.
— Oh hey, Boris must be a snake. Considering how he’s running a cult that reveres a false idol, I guess that makes sense.
— And he is kinda shady. I’m pretty sure most cult leaders are bad people anyway. Again, I don’t really care for these guys. I just think Anima City has bigger fishes to fry.
— Later that night, Nazuna tells Michiru that her cult will probably be forced to leave the city. After all, their scheduled meeting with the mayor ended up being delayed, which doesn’t seem like good news. Since our heroine actually knows the mayor personally, however, she goes and drag her best friend to a diner where Rose goes to every morning.
— At first, Michiru thinks that she can get the mayor to help Nazuna in the same way that she’s been helped. Nazuna, however, doesn’t need anyone to speak for her. Instead, she starts to represent her cult as Déesse Louve. She admits to Rose that she’s no Ginrou, but since her lies bring happiness to the beastmen in the city, her cult serves a useful purpose. I don’t really agree with that, but the mayor quickly declares that the cult’s residency will be approved once the paperwork has been completed. Alright then… in reality, Rose had made up her mind a while ago. Shirou might not be a fan of the cult, but she still calls the shot in her city.
— Michiru is not happy with these results for obvious reasons, but her best friend now has the chance to get a few things off her chest. She feels that Michiru always assumes that other people need saving. Essentially, our heroine has anime protagonist syndrome. The reality, however, is that Nazuna has finally realized her dream of becoming an idol even if this isn’t exactly what she had in mind as a human. As a result, she’s not giving up her identity as a false idol. Michiru has to just accept this fact.
— Not surprisingly, Michiru angrily declares that they’re no longer friends. That seems a bit hasty, but these are still teenagers. Their emotions are running high. Plus, I feel that there’s something immorally wrong about being a false idol. It’s too results-oriented. Sure, Nazuna is giving the beastmen hope, but she’s doing it by lying to them. I can’t abide by that. Still, for Michiru, this is all part of growing up. Accepting the fact that our friends are no longer who we think they are is one of the hallmarks of our journey through life.
— Up until now, Brand New Animal has focused a lot on racial issues. This episode, however, demonstrates that Michiru’s story is also about her coming-of-age. Hell, you can even draw parallels to puberty. She woke up one day and found hair where there used to be none (’cause, y’know, she’s a furry now). She’s faster and stronger than ever, but much like a kid going through puberty, she also feels like an outsider in her own body. Only recently has Michiru found it comfortable to be herself, and this came at the expense of realizing that she no longer has a home in the human world (see: episode four). To go all along with all the changes to her body, the poor girl has had to move out of her own home and find her way in the city much like an adult. And now, she’s facing the most bittersweet fact of growing up: coming to terms with the fact her best friend has her own life to live. Nazuna has grown up too, and she’s her own person. Even if our heroine thinks that her best friend is making a mistake, the latter has the right to make and learn from those mistakes. Unfortunately, this means that their friendship is over, but it’s probably only temporary.
— The two girls will probably come to a good compromise by the end of the series, because I can’t really imagine that a false idol will be tolerated for long.