Hakumei and Mikochi #4 – Konju comes over with a housewarming gift once Hakumei and Mikochi are settled in again, and thank goodness there is finally someone in this show who realizes that a monkey ribcage built into to the front of your house is not something that contributes to an overall homey and welcoming atmosphere. But despite that, and Konju’s intention of finding things to shore up her dislike, Mikochi wins her over and they spend a happy day swapping domestic craft tips.
At the end of the day, Konju has figured something out that points to why Mikochi took Hakumei in. Though Mikochi chose to live out in the woods for some reason, she gets lonely, and really enjoys having someone around. Hakumei helps fill up the empty space around her.
In turn, Hakumei may have liked traveling and living rough, but she says that cave walls “make up for” the lack of real walls. She’s grateful to have a place to be, and a friend to be around. A friend that she’s willing to go up against an elf-eating monster for, at the risk of her own life.
Kokkoku #5 – Now that the supply of hired thugs has been whittled down to just the relatively intelligent ones, Majima gets a chance to discuss her backstory. With it comes the explanation of her connection to the Yukawas, the origin of the Heralds, and a central metaphor for this entire story.
The Majima family had yet another stone tied to the main one. Due to an accident of timing and bodily fluids, they were trapped in Stasis when Juri’s grandfather brought her into Stasis as her dog was dying. When Majima’s parents and brother gave into hopelessness about ever escaping Stasis, they became Heralds.
That’s what nearly happened to Tsubasa when he almost gave up hope in episode 3, then— it looked like the Specter was trying to leave his body, but it nearly trapped him in Stasis. It would be a perfect parallel for his life: having given into his fear of the world and become a shut-in, Tsubasa’s life as an adult is permanently frozen. And that’s why Juri, out of all her family, has to be the protagonist. She’s the one who’s trying to move forward into a new phase of life.
Tsubasa may yet wind up giving in. It seems like all the existing Heralds have been dispelled, and someone is now free to murder him. If he dies, does he still turn into a Herald, or does something else (probably worse) happen?
Hakyu Hoshin Engi #4 – It’s not just women who get introduced only to be killed in ways that remind you this is based on a classical Chinese novel— men can play too! Ki Shō, Lord of the West, has displeased Dakki and needs to be pushed into rebellion, so Dakki makes use of his son to serve up an unbearable insult… literally. Handling this with an excursion into a cooking-show presentation would not have worked in most stories, but going into full-on horror would have produced some serious tonal whiplash in this particular one, so I think embracing the ridiculousness was the right choice here.
This all comes about because Taikōbō is not your typical shōnen hero who can just punch out the badguys and assume that everything else will sort itself out. He needs someone he can put on the throne after Dakki is gone, and Shō seems like the right person for the job. So everyone’s interests converge, for a bit, as Taikōbō settles in as his advisor and Shō starts gathering his strength.
More urgent concerns intervene, however, as Taikōbō has to rush off to save Hiko and the last of his clan. Taikōbō and his friends are someone constrained in the amount of power they can unleash, because overdoing it will attract the attention of even greater powers. Also, if the opening gambit in even a moderate-level fight is to flood the entire area, there probably wouldn’t be a country left to fight over soon if Taikōbō weren’t trying so hard to avoid violence.
Beatless #4 – “Loves to eat a lot” is one of those standard anime character traits where you see one in practically every show, but it’s still weird for that to be the defining trait of all three little sisters in this one. Still, it provides a route for word to get back to Arato about Kengo being out at all hours and speaking in an oddly formal way, so that Arato can go investigate.
Here we finally get an explanation about the “antibody network”. It’s an underground organization dedicated to removing androids from society one by one. Computer nerds like Kengo contribute useful technical skills, but there’s also a time for getting all paramilitary and staging an attack on a high-profile android, like Arato’s father’s proposed android Diet leader. Kengo rapidly discovers that he doesn’t have the stomach for outright violence, and Kōka seems to be looking for him to admit that. Is she trying to find someone she considers to have real moral fiber, or is she just looking for someone dedicated to the cause who’s less enamored of BFGs?
Meanwhile, Arato’s other buddy has learned that somewhere out there is a large mobile AI named Higgins. It originated as a major data center whose builders were mindful of the need for disaster planning, due to a particularly epic one a century ago (that would be the 2011 earthquake and tsunami), and because this is apparently an alternate timeline where the offsite backup has yet to be invented. Anyway, Higgins is likely to be the motivating force behind one or more of Lacia and her “sisters”, and probably the thing Arato will have to have a philosophical argument with at the end of the story to keep humanity from being caged or exterminated or something.