It’s me, MANGA.TOKYO’s resident Saniwa here! When I’m not busy saving history with my important Saniwa duties, I like to take a break and kick back with nature. Without a doubt, my favorite part of spring is when the plum blossoms come into full bloom. Not only are they beautiful, but they smell wonderful too! Unfortunately, we are quite a while away from spring, but luckily we can enjoy the blossoms in this week’s episode of Katsugeki Touken Ranbu!
No matter what kind of misfortune rains down on that man’s life, we’ll fight to make sure that happens
Japanese Title: 忠義の向かう先
The Second Unit were able to successfully allow Sakamoto Ryoma to escape from the Teradaya without major damage. However, a nearby fire shows that maybe history didn’t go that unchanged after all. As Sakamoto runs off to view the plum blossoms, it seems the Time Retrograde Army are trying to force a meeting between Sakamoto and somebody he should never meet… Izuminokami Kanesada and Horikawa Kunihiro’s former master…
Ume. All the ume.
As you may have guessed from my introduction, I really love ume (Asian plum) trees. Although cherry blossoms seem to be what comes to mind when we think of blossoms in Japan, the humble plum tree should not be overlooked. The petals can vary from white to vivid pink, and the spindly branches can even reach a dark, almost black, color. The plum trees in this episode were absolutely stunning. They were so vibrant that they were almost glowing. There are plenty of beautiful plum orchards in Japan, especially in Kyoto, so I definitely recommend you put one on your to-visit list if you are in Japan at the beginning of spring.
Even before the episode aired, I was expecting some Kunihiro angst, and of course I was expecting Hijikata to appear at some point. What I wasn’t expecting though, was Kane-san’s emotional reaction. The moment he saw his former master, his expression was not one of excitement or worry. A split second of shock, and then tears. A lot of tears. With a soft expression on his face, he is both happy to see his beloved master and pained. His struggle between these two emotions is unbearable, and the amount of respect he shows for Hijikata is truly brought to light. With his voice breaking ever so slightly, he says that knowing what is coming for his master is killing him deep inside. The camera angle, the lighting, the pacing, the script, and Ryohei Kimura’s superb acting; this short scene was by far the best scene of the episode for me, if not of the whole season. The scene made an outstanding job of trying to convey to us, the viewers, the emotions that have been bubbling up inside Izuminokami all this time. Hijikata did not talk to Izuminokami. Hijikata did not even see Izuminokami. All it took was the split second where they crossed paths to bring out these emotions. But, being a true captain, he once again wiped back his tears and declared that they would absolutely do what they have been assigned to do. I also want to point out Horikawa’s truly pained expression here (noooo, don’t do that to your adorable face), but to be honest, there was no surprise in how he would react.
Mutchan + Kane-san 1 – Ootachi 0
Mutsunokami and Izuminokami may rub each other the wrong way, but when they team up, they can defeat an Ootachi! As awesome as the scene was, I was still kind of reeling from Kane-san’s tears. So.. yay go Mutchan and Kane-san.. *lies down for a while*
“Protect History. That is All”
The episode finished with a very poignant conversation between Izuminokami Kanesada and Horikawa Kunihiro. Two partners who were wielded together by their beloved master Hijikata Toshizo. Both have the same feelings of love, pain, and regret. And both truly know what it is they have been assigned to do. Whereas Kane-san will continue to be loyal to his mission, Horikawa is the one who is wavering. And let’s be honest, if we were in the same position, I’m sure most of us would switch to Horikawa’s stance. Deep down, I know that I would too…
As I have mentioned multiple times in my reviews, Hijikata Toshizo was the vice-captain of the Shinsengumi, which I guess you could call a kind of pro-shogunate police force. What I haven’t spoken much about is his fate, which is mentioned multiple times this episode.
After Sakamoto Ryoma’s assassination in 1867, Shinsengumi commander Kondo Isami was falsely accused of the assassination and later executed. This left Hijikata in charge of the Shinsengumi and he found himself fighting a battle against the opening of Japan that he knew he would lose. In his final year, deep down he knew that there was nothing he could do to stop the new government. Not long before his death, he gave a lock of his hair, a death poem, his katana, and other items to his page boy Tetsunosuke Ichimura and asked for them to be delivered to his brother-in-law. With the acceptance of death, Hijikata rode into battle and was killed soon after. Just months after his death came the Meiji Restoration, the very thing Hijikata was fighting against.
Yagen Leg Watch
Things could be a little better here over at Yagen Leg Watch, as there wasn’t all that much on display. This makes sense, as the focus this time was on the Shinsengumi swords. However, I’m not complaining, as we got a wonderful shot of Yagen sat in his usual pose on the floor with one leg bend upwards. The camera was coming from behind so we got to sneak a peek at the back of his thighs. Oh Yagen, you little tease.
Until our next mission
There is something very fishy going on with the Time Retrograde Army, and although I am looking forward to learning more about this mystery, for me this episode was about feeling the connections between the swords and the masters they served. Last week, we felt nothing but love from Mutsunokami Yoshiyuki, who felt excitement and nostalgia to be with Sakamoto Ryoma. On the other hand, we have sadness and pain from Izuminokami Kanesada, who knows his master will never be able to reach the goal he is so desperately fighting for. As for Horikawa, I just hope he doesn’t do what I expect him to do, and nearly f*** everything up. Let’s find out next week!