We start this week off with Zakuro having a strange dream involving herself and Susukihotaru as children and a persimmon tree.  Zakuro is climbing the tree while Susukihotaru calls up to her, warning her about the fragility of persimmon brances.  Zakuro laughs off her concern until some strange spirits – entities maybe? – start appearing, calling out Zakuro’s name and Susukihotaru disappears.  This part actually kind of freaked me out.  Seriously!  The spirits or whatever they are seriously resembled the “ash babies” from Silent Hill.  Either way, Zakuro panics (as I’m sure 98% of us would) and scampers up the tree to try and escape the creepy things below.  A strange voice continues reminding her of persimmon trees, finally revealing that they’re connected to the spirit world.  Zakuro bolts awake, seemingly covered in a cold sweat, and utters one word: “Okaa-san.”

As freaky of a beginning to the episode as that is, the rest of the episode was fairly happy-go-lucky.  To a point.  While at breakfast, Amegaki makes the mistake of giving Zakuro a candle, saying he wasn’t sure if she would like pigment since spirits apparently eat candles and he wanted to make sure she liked how it tasted.  Understandably offended by this, Zakuro storms out, saying she’s lost her appetite and Amegaki seems to be at a total loss of what to do to repair his relationship (does he even have one?) with Zakuro.  Hozuki and Bonbori laugh at Amegaki’s misfortune, but Kushimatsu – a full-spirit fox who appears to be the girls’ mentor and guardian – appears, commending Amegaki on his effort to do research.

Susukihotaru finds Zakuro steaming outside on the walkway and tries to explain to her that Amegaki meant no harm by his…offering?  Not caring to believe her, Zakuro continues fuming until Hozuki and Bonbori appear, informing their friends that Kushimatsu has asked for them.  Once everyone has gathered in Kushimatsu’s office, she informs them of their next assignment: apparently a local business man has begun construction on a westernized hotel near the train station and has requested the assistance of Spirit Affairs.  Why do I have a bad feeling about this?  Oh yeah.  It involves humans. XD

The business man that has requested their help appears to be an incredibly boring man – as shown my Hozuki and Bonbori, who fall asleep during his ramblings – who is only interested in how much money he has and how grand his possessions are.  He then demands that they perform an exorcism of sorts to remove the “evil” spirit who is tormenting his workers.  Zakuro is visibly upset by this, but stays quiet after Amegaki pleads with her; Susukihotaru, Hozuki and Bonbori are all equally upset by this, but don’t say anything.  As the group splits up in search of the culprit, Zakuro splits up from Amegaki.  When he protests this, she glares at him and says that he should be more afraid of her than the spirit they’re looking for.  The look on Amegaki’s face?  Priceless.

While wandering around in search for the spirit, Riken comments on how he can’t believe how someone with such delicate hands can fight so well.  Susukihotaru reveals to Riken that if it weren’t for Zakuro, none of the other girls would be able to fight.  She then comments on how Zakuro means the world to them and they would do anything for her.  Meanwhile, Hozuki and Bonbori are goofing around and when Ganryu scolds them for not staying on task, they become elated when they realize he can tell them apart.  Either their incredibly easy to please or no one has ever been able to tell them apart before.  Either way, it was amusing how they tried to trick him.

It’s while all of this is going on that Amegaki unwittingly stumbles upon the spirit they’re looking for – a rather large, menacing creature if I say so myself – and he promptly freaks out.  However, whenever Amegaki screams, the monster seems to retreat.  Hm…  Perhaps we’ve discovered Amegaki’s secret weapon?  The monster retreats to where Zakuro is and she soon draws her blade.  Not against the monster, but against…the pillar of the building? D:  As the building collapses, the crew runs out of the debris, only to be yelled at by the owner.  It’s then that the monster appears, but is actually a tiny little thing that creates the illusion that it’s big and scary.  And my God is it cute!  I just want to take it home and snuggle it! <3

Why was it doing this?  Because those snot-nosed humans tore down it’s temple and built the hotel on top of it, that’s why!  Zakuro begins arguing with the owner, saying that because of westernization the spirits aren’t as revered as they used to be and humans now feel that they can trample all over them.  And oh my God, Amegaki actually comes to Zakuro’s defense when the townsfolk start criticizing the girls!  It’s a miracle!  He’s finally grown a back bone! 😀  Amegaki stops his rambling when he notices the first lieutenant has shown up, only to hear both sides of the story.  After a quick analysis, he decides to hand over a piece of military land to the business owner and rebuild the shrine for the spirit.  Of course, Zakuro seems to be quite taken with him.

All’s well that ends well in this episode!  Amegaki makes amends with Zakuro towards the end of the episode, giving her a gift of her favorite drink.  Zakuro seems to acknowledge him as a decent human being, but then calls him a wuss and completely degrades him.

Opinions: I actually really enjoyed this episode!  We got a peek inside Zakuro’s inner-workings as well as why Susukihotaru, Hozuki and Bonbori all adore her so much as well as a peek at Amegaki, Riken and Ganryu’s softer (?) sides.  The look at how westernization is affecting both the humans and the spirit world was a bit sad, but it was a clarifying look at how modernization can change beliefs/people/etc.  Of course, the whole mystery of what happened to Zakuro while she was a child is intriguing; did it really happen or is it just an odd dream that she has from time to time?  Either way, it was an excellent episode and I’m definitely looking forward to seeing more of it.

Score: A-/A+

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As a 22-year old gamer chick, anime/manga addict and all around geek, Nagi is one of the prized members of the Anime Evo family! She likes any sort of genre so long as the artwork is shiny and the plot good (it also doesn’t hurt to have some fan-service and gore either!) and will give any anime or manga at shot.

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