This episode begins much like the last, in the middle of a fight between Kirai and a youmu. Apparently Mitsuki is also a spirit world warrior and her power is to control familiars. She snipes a youmu kill off of Mirai who had one cornered but politely offers to let her have the reward. Mirai seems to have problems trusting people and refuses to accept Mitsuki’s kindness. Also, who is that mysterious figure watching them?
Following that scene, Izumi Nase is introduced. She is Hiroomi and Mitsuki’s older sister and is apparently quite an accomplished youmu hunter. Miroku Fujima, an officer from the Spirit World Warrior Observation Department is there to see her about a powerful youmu called “Hollow Shadow”. During their conversation he reveals that youmu are actually manifestations of negative emotions from people’s dreams which means that as long as there are people, there will continue to be youmu. It seems that a question being raised in this series is how should one view the youmu, on one hand they are undoubtedly monsters but there are also all kinds of youmu as we saw last episode there are also human-like youmu like Ai and Ayaka. Izumi’s views of youmu are more practical in that she doesn’t really bother thinking about what exactly youmu are, she views them like a fisherman would view fish because killing youmu has been her family’s occupation for generations. It isn’t all to clear to me what youmu are in this series, I mean they seem to coexist with normal humans just fine and some of them are even helpful but it’s been shown that some of them will actually harm humans if given the chance. Part of the problem in classifying youmu as good or bad is, as mentioned in the second episode, the term youmu encompasses such a huge spectrum of creatures that are all very different. I suspect this good/bad youmu discussion will continue to be a theme moving on.
I’ve never seen a cafeteria with sinks in it before, but maybe it’s a common over in Japan. Poor Mirai is struggling to eat because of her lack of youmu-catching ability; at this point I have to ask how in the world she affords to pay for an apartment and why she doesn’t just work part time but logic doesn’t always prevail in a work of fiction. We are treated to some scenes of cute Mirai-chan
refusing accepting charity money from Akihito. Apparently its actually money from the kill that Mitsuki stole from her yesterday, I must say it is kind of strange how easily she accepts the money from Akihito (maybe because her hunger was more immediately pressing here) when she so strongly denied Mitsuki’s help. I was under the impression that she was trying to distance herself from Akihito so it seems a bit odd that she would accept his help.
Mirai learns that the youmu “Hollow Shadow” is coming to town from Shizuku who warns her to stay away from it, but she doesn’t seem interested in listening to her warning.
We are treated to some Mitsuki-service courtesy of Akihito and Hiroomi’s fetish conversation in the club room. Akihito is a strange fixation with glasses while Hiroomi has a sister complex so put the two together and KyoAni does the rest. Of course Mitsuki walks in on their delusion and Hiroomi gets the lion’s share of dat stare.
In the second half, we the youmu are patrolling the streets in force because “Hollow Shadow” has all the spirit world warriors running for cover. On a tip from Mitsuki, Akihito does a bit of digging into Mirai’s past and discovers part of the reason for her trauma. It seems she was taken in by the Inami family after her clan was destroyed and was raised alongside their daughter, Yui. Mirai is just too adorable in these flashbacks and it seems she had a good life while living with the Inami family. Unfortunately it was not to last and she ends up killing their daughter Yui who was possessed by Hollow Shadow, which explains why she is so desperate to fight it despite the danger. I have a feeling this isn’t the last we will see of this flashback because it merely glosses over what happened. Perhaps with the appearance of Sakura, the younger sister of Yui, we will receive more information about what happened last episode.
it’s clear Sakura doesn’t quite forgive Mirai for her sister’s death as she ambushes Mirai. The two battle it out and are taken to some alter world when the plague/shadow/fog thing that is “Hollow Shadow” passes over them. This fight kind of reminds me of Madoka Magica because the fights there too took place on alternate dimensions, though its safe to say the presentation here isn’t quite as crazy as it was in Madoka.
Mirai’s got her hands full with dealing with Sakura’s whole gun/blade/chainsaw/spear weapon. Pretty overpowered if you ask me, good thing Mirai has a few tricks up her sleeve as well including a shield made of blood. Unfortunately this skill takes a large toll on her and she ends up at the mercy of Sakura’s chainsaw. Who else but Akihito comes to her rescue (how did he even catch up to Mirai, she was surfing on trucks and pulling all sort of ninja tricks) so we’ll have to wait till next episode to see what becomes of this fight.
After the first three episodes I’d say this show is about what you would expect from KyoAni. Personally my expectations were very high coming into this show especially because I thought it was going to be a 2-cour show (though now it seems it will only be 13 episodes) and because of potential of action x KyoAni. So far the action part has delivered with some crisp and detailed fight scenes. The fights themselves aren’t too complicated or crazy but it feels every frame has had a lot of effort poured into it. Mirai’s movements aren’t that of a super hero, she flinches and reacts to pretty much anything. Her sword swing animations look really fluid and accurate to me, like if a girl her size not being some kind of train master of the arts were to use a sword, that’s probably what it would look like. Though well done, I think the potential of the fight scenes were a bit overblown as while nice, they aren’t anything groundbreaking. The majority of the “eye candy” in the show isn’t in the fight scenes but in the everyday backgrounds and characters that we already knew KyoAni did well so if you were watching this series hoping for some transcendent fight scenes that will change anime standards, that’s probably not what we’ll see.
What the show does do well is showing us unique characters in their daily life and animating beautiful scenery with a plot that doesn’t try to rock the boat too much. So the answer to the question “Is this the series where we finally get to see KyoAni’s godlike talents used in a story worthy of it?” or some variant thereof, probably not as 3 episodes in I see this being a solid series but to become a great series you have to try to do something very different and I don’t see that here for KyoAni. This is very much the type of story with heavy slice of life elements that we are used to seeing from them and a very safe bet. However if you like KyoAni’s style from their recent string of shows then this series will definitely deliver more of what was good about their previous series with a bit of a different spin. As a fan of KyoAni’s shows I personally like this show and I’ll admit maybe after seeing the PV and hearing some comments my expectations for the series were sky-high. It’s hard not to get hype with anything KyoAni is involved in because of what they have made in the past and knowing that they are still capable of that kind of quality. I think KyoAni has created this problem where they made these amazing adaptations in the past that won everyone over and now that they are essentially doing these new series based on stories that aren’t surefire hits, there will be inevitable comparisons to their past adaptations like Haruhi and Clannad and automatically expect them to surpass those series with their new content based on source material that isn’t already a hit. I think it’s unfair to judge this series by the standards of what might have been though and by itself, it really is an interesting show.