Hello, Touken Ranbu-watchers! It is time for another episode of Sword Boys! We are back to the Second Unit, and this episode focuses on Mutsunokami Yoshiyuki and his former master. When I heard the title of the episode, I thought they might have been focusing on Kane-san and Horikawa’s master Hijikata Toshizo, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was about Sakamoto Ryoma!
Why don’t we run away? Together, somewhere far away
Japanese Title: 元の主 (Moto no Aruji)
The Second Unit are back in action, and they are sent to 23 January 1866 in the capital city of Kyoto. Sakamoto Ryoma is about to be attacked in the Teradaya Incident, and the Touken Danshi have to ensure his safe escape. Mutsunokami Yoshiyuki will be close to his beloved master, but he knows deep down that he should keep his distance.
Shower of Cherry Blossom Petals
The episode begins with the blizzard of cherry blossom petals bringing our sword boys to the past. I’ll never dislike these scenes, and it was a spectacular way to open the episode.
Good Guy Mutsu
A very common theme in Katsugeki Touken Ranbu (and in Hanamaru as well) is the boys having to put aside their personal feelings in order to protect history. The way this was treated with Mutsu’s story was slightly different in previous episodes. He knows that he would accidentally interfere with things and decides from the beginning to keep his distance from his beloved master. When he does end up with Ryoma, he suppresses his feelings and helps Ryoma without saying even a word. Although his true feelings slip out, not once does he truly come close on acting upon them. Although Mutsu has been the typically brash shonen manga protagonist-like character in many aspects, the maturity he showed in this episode was quite unexpected.
I also really loved the scene where Mutsu threw his sword to protect Ryoma and pulled out his gun only for it to be blown out of his hand. Then, Ryoma actually hands over his own sword (which happens to be Mutsunokami Yoshiyuki itself) to Mutsu, followed by a slow-motion scene of Ryoma throwing the sword to Mutsu, who catches it from behind. These few seconds say a lot about how, even with the age of firearms coming, a samurai’s sword can not be replaced. We also see the complete trust the Touken Danshi puts in Ryoma as he holds out his hand to catch the sword. My heart was racing a little bit (*´∀｀*)
Ufotable and Cinematography
Animation studio ufotable is known for its cinematography. Although there were no strange camera angles, there were some great shots in this episode. Some that I particularly enjoyed were the panning over the bridge to reveal Kane-san and Horikawa and the shot of the enemies slowly coming into view. In addition, I really loved the shot of Tsurumaru sat at the front, with his sword slung over his shoulder like some kind of juvenile delinquent, only to suddenly jump and attack straight at the camera.
We first heard Ryoma’s voice as he was running away from the inn, and all it took was his heavy breathing for me to go ‘omg, is it… YES, it’s OnoD!’ Now, you may be wondering what the big deal is (apart from the fact I’ve been a fan of his since 2009), but it’s important to note that Ono is actually from Kochi prefecture (previously Tosa province).This means it’s one of the very few roles where he can use his native Tosa dialect (another recent work of his where he spoke in Tosa dialect was the 2016 movie Poppin Q). Absolutely perfect casting. Good job, Touken Ranbu.
The Teradaya Incident
When Konnosuke mentioned that the Second Unit were in Kyoto in January 1866 (March in the modern calendar), I knew exactly what this episode would be about: the Teradaya Incident! I’ve mentioned Sakamoto multiple times in my past reviews, so hopefully you will be familiar with him by now. The Teradaya Incident is a very famous event that happened at the Teradaya Inn in Fushimi-ward, in the south of Kyoto City. As you may be aware by watching the episode, Sakamoto and his allies were attacked in the inn but he was able to escape with minor injuries. You can actually go and visit the Teradaya, and even go inside for a small fee. There, you can learn about the Teradaya incident, see the bath from which Sakamoto Ryoma’s wife famously fled in order to warn him (sans clothes), and there are even marks supposedly from swords and bullets in the walls. The area of Fushimi is also famous for sake, so if you plan on visiting Kyoto, I would definitely recommend visiting Teradaya, then going for some sake tasting afterwards!
There was nothing particularly outstanding about Yagen’s beautiful legs today, but of course we still saw a few poses that brought his legs to the forefront. On another note, if you read my last review, I brought up a certain scene where Yagen gets licked by a horse. Yes, it seemed a little rude. It actually caused a big hoo-ha last week after the episode director stated that yes, the horse looked like guy’s you-know-what, and it was the storyboard director’s doing. The tweets were later deleted, but my suspicions that Yagen is ~ero~ were confirmed. I don’t hate it. This episode in contrast was quite mild.
Until our next mission
This was my favorite episode so far. Although we had great action scenes, it was less about the fighting and more about the heart. Although I was expecting some angst, there wasn’t any at all. In fact, Mutsu’s view on things is very refreshing, and his faith in and respect for Ryoma and what he stands for is very beautiful. His line near the end of the episode,’Even if you can’t grip it or use it… Keep it by your side, until that moment, and let me see it. Because I love your way of life’ was quite emotional. It’s very sad to think that Ryoma would be assassinated just over a year after the events of this episode. It was quite a comparison to Horikawa Kunihiro’s closing lines, and I wonder how Horikawa will develop as the series comes to its climax. I’ll see you again next week!
Next Episode Title: Where Loyalties Lead (忠義の向かう先)