When young women are disappearing in a village, Zakuro takes the job with a definite personal interest in it.
What They Say:
A village mayor suggests they should hold a discussion regarding the occurrence of many young girls in the village being spirited away recently. Hearing this, Zakuro immediately becomes solemn and says to Kushimatsu that she'll take the job.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the tension still fairly present within the series, Otome Yokai Zakuro slid seinto its third episode with the two main leads still not trusting each other and in some instances not even liking each other much. Being coworkers, they end up having to work together regularly, watching how Kei and Zakuro get along is supposed to be the main part of the show. At this stage, though Kei has the most issues from the start it seems like, he's the one more willing to try and bridge the divide between them, even offering her food on a train trip and being generally civil. Zakuro is still standoffish about working with the full humans at this point but she does so because it's necessary. She has her demons in her past to deal with and even when Kei does something nice and simple for her, she's still quite and aloof. Which is good as I'd rather not see them being instant friends and being too friendly with each other at this stage.
Because of these tensions, even the smallest things can be problems. And Kei suffers from a bit of guilt as he views everything as racially tinged in a way since he says something about being scary and then quickly corrects himself with Zakuro that he's not saying all spirits are scary or anything. The power of words continues to be the hardest thing for the two to deal with since they have such power. When the two end up staying in a room together while out on a mission, it opens up the possibility of more discussion. Zakuro does get to share a bit more but the whole situation feels just a bit too forced when you come right down to it. On the positive side, they avoided Zakuro going overly silly with trying to establish space between them and instead just takes a more distasteful look to her expression and suffers through all of it.
The focus of the story itself here, with Zakuro and Kei investigating a village where girls are being spirited away mysteriously, comes into play more in the second half than the first. It's an incident that has special meaning to Zakuro, hence her taking the job and keeping it small with just her and Kei, which in turn becomes something that bonds them closer together as he starts to understand her more. It's an interesting enough little spiritual tale when they get around to telling it, but it largely succeeds because of the atmosphere produced for it and the visual design of it all. Kei and Zakuro shine rather well here when they work together and seeing them search out the fox spirits and descend into the cave to confront what's there pairs them up in a way that doesn't feel as forced anymore. Which should be natural after what they talked about in the dark of night in their room.
With the two leads being forced into spending more time with each other and nobody else for awhile, it gives them both a chance to open up more as well as make a few more social faux pas. Kei manages to be the one that seems the most accessible as Zakuro doesn't really let anyone at all in at this point and that keeps her distant. But that's a positive factor as it keeps you from identifying fully with her and not getting why nobody else gets along with her. The spirit adventure that shapes up is largely an afterthought, something small and simple to be dealt with in the grand scheme of things, but it's decent done as the pair work to stop the creature that's spiriting away women. With the show working the standalone angle so far with a few undercurrents of story ideas, this one does nicely but doesn't stand out in a big way.
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.