Okay: This time around was better. The mystery and story seem to be progressing and the flow of the show isn’t as confusing. Which is good because I was worried that I might have to drop it. Sometimes I can be critical at the beginning of a show and think about dropping it before it’s reached its second or third episode. However, I almost always end up watching them to completion despite my initial impression, which is why I’m always glad to see when things pick up.
Synopsis: The episode starts with Hiroshi’s father relating a village legend: “On a moonlit night, a demon will appear. If you are bitten by this demon, you’ll turn into a dog” he tells his children to little effect. Hiroshi later reveals (after Kaname chides him for not being that interested in his father’s work) that after hearing it over and over again, anyone would lose interest.
The next day, on his way to school with Isuzu, Hiroshi brings up Ogasawara’s unusual and sudden departure. Isuzu casually encourages Hiroshi to drop the issue, suggesting a personal problem as a probable cause for his leave. Despite Ogasawara’s absence, the other classmates still flock around Hiroshi, vying for his attention. They only draw away when Nemuru is around. It’s clear that she holds some authority over the others though the nature of her power is uncertain thus far. This is further hinted to when Isuzu is called into a private meeting (scolding) with Nemuru; Isuzu doesn’t take whatever Nemuru has to say lightly though, as she’s shown to be visibly upset and eventually runs out of the room, shouting she will definitely protect “him”.
While Isuzu was talking with Nemuru, Kaname talks with Hiroshi and becomes interested in meeting his father. On the way home, they meet Isuzu’s older brother, Issei. He turns out to be a popular and intelligent man who accompanies the others to meet Hiroshi’s dad. Much like Kaname, Issei is a fan of the books and research that Hiroshi’s father has done, and they discuss the Jouga Wolves in detail, which is clearly important to the overall plot. There is much debate as to whether the wolves ever existed, but Hiroshi’s father – as well as Issei – are convinced that there must be some truth to the legends.
The following day, while Isuzu and Kaname are teaching Hiroshi the ways of the Hassaku Festival, Issei goes over to the Kuzumi’s again. He even asks to see Hiroshi’s father’s study to which his request is entertained – leaving Isuzu and Hiroshi alone in the living room. Isuzu makes a move (not surprising that she initiates considering Hiroshi’s personality) but nothing happens otherwise. (Hiroshi: be a man!)
Another night, another hunt. This time, the victim is an unknown woman. Right before the scythe falls, the girl says: “Fallen Wolf, your cleansing has come”… The episode ends with the focus on a strange man who has yet to be introduced. The memory of finding his loved one (girlfriend, fiancée) dead in a pool of blood (most likely killed by the pack) dead in an alley is played; he’s probably spent the past x years investigating the nature of her death which has most likely led him to research the Wolf Cult.
Thoughts: For me, there were two main focuses in this episode: the upcoming Hassaku Festival and the introduction of Isuzu’s older brother Issei. There’s just something about Issei that unsettles me – previews of the next episode only confirm that as he’s shown feeling Hiroshi up in his car (Hiroshi: be a man!) Aside from that, the Hassaku fruit was introduced early in the first episode and continues to show up (the TV commercials, the air freshener in Issei’s car), subtly pointing to something huge that’ll probably happen during the Festival, when the entire town will be filled with its fragrance.
I appreciated seeing a softer side to Nemuru in this episode. After her appearance in the first episode, I figured that she would be the kind of character who was quiet and carried a big stick, and cold in demeanour. Her interaction with Isuzu makes me think that she actually might care about people. She remains a big mystery, though, and I look forward to seeing more from her.
There have been many comments around the anime blogosphere that Hiroshi is quite a weak male protagonist. I agree.