The calm before the storm arrives and it's almost too calming, to the point where it'll put you to sleep.
What They Say:
Upon destroying most of Ukiyoe Town's local deities and confirming the strength of the Nura Clan with Inugami's attack, Tamazuki decides to finally bring on the main assault on Rikuo's clan.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The previous episode really broke expectations with this series as it felt like the A team of another show stepped in to show this crew how it's done. The use of Inugami to attack seriously against Rikuo and the others made for a thrilling episode overall as most of it was given over to that, especially with some seemingly better than usual animation and a real sense of quality. That episode ended with something of a stalemate in a sense as Tamazuki made the agreement to not target innocents in this battle any further, but it would mean more of a concerted attack against the Nura clan itself. That may seem like a foolish thing to agree to, an almost gentlemanly form of warfare, but it helps both sides in the end as it doesn't overly aggravate the Nura side since they'll be more focused on attacks on themselves directly, and not overreact to attacks on Rikuo's friends or general citizenry.
Providing you can believe Tamazuki, of course.
Much of what Tamazuki has done is fairly straightforward in tactics as he's weakened the clan overall by taking down other deities in the area and he's gotten a good idea of what Rikuo and Nura can do in general because of what Inugami did. And with Rikuo dealing with Inugami on an emotional level, he's better able to determine what it is that Rikuo is capable of. With all that setup out of the way, not that it was terribly engaging prior to Inugami's attack episode, the focus is now shifting to the actual attack itself. This is where the show can try and shine again as it can show that last build-up to the events, seeing the rallying of the troops on Tamazuki's side as well as the seriousness of setting up defenses on the Nura clan's side. Unfortunately, a lot of the potential energy to carry this through from the previous episode is lost in the first half here as it's more of a cautious presentation of events that feels too restrained on all counts.
Much of what populates the second half is the preparation side, which has a lot of potential with Tamazuki and his group. There's a lot of hostility about to be unleashed but everyone is mostly sitting on the sidelines an waiting patiently. Tamazuki has a real air of malice about him but it's not backed up by anything at this point. On the clan side, Rikuo and the others are acting all serious about things and making their plans, but it still feels far too relaxed. Rituals are all well and good, and we have a really attractive cherry blossom drinking session going on here which is surprisingly well accented by the music, but it feels hollow at this stage. The quiet before the storm to be sure, but it's almost too quiet.
If there's a truly interesting moment to this episode, it's the conversation that occurs at the end with Rikuo where things are explained that none of these bad guys are worth dying from since they're just a bunch of tanuki. It sort of trivializes all that's happened, especially after the intensity of the previous episode, and sets a poor tone for what's to come. While it works as a piece of bravado to be sure, it tells you right then and there that these are not opponents worth worrying about and should be handled easily. It's easy to see there will be challenges ahead in the battle, but they'll be overcome with no serious losses. Everything is telegraphed plainly in these statements, unfortunately.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Dell 10.1 Netbook via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.