Quiet is the order of the day as the past is explored for several of the spirits, making them more accessible and engaging.
What They Say:
The events of the military gala have left Ganryu in low spirits. Ganryu feels frustrated by his inability to do anything while Bonbori and Hozuki fearlessly protected him from harm. That is when Bonbori and Hozuki begin to tell Ganryu about their past... Meanwhile, Zakuro has been acting strangely since the gala, despite being her normal cheerful self. Kei appears to be the only one who has noticed.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The last episode had a lot going for it in that it let the other characters of the Ministry of Spirit Affairs shine a bit but also because it allowed most of them to dress up a bit and deal in some basic social fun. The secondary cast has been interesting to some degree and that episode, along with little nuggets before it, have done a good job at expanding on them without making it seem like a whole episode is devoted to them. The twins in particular had a good showing the last time around, though it's having some ramifications as Ganryu doesn't feel manly for having them protect him. Of course, his acting out against them in the way he does isn't all that manly either, but it's a difficult situation for someone in this period of time (never mind the present, where it still happens) in feeling ashamed by being protected by a woman.
Ganryu's issue is rather interestingly dealt with since instead of leaping into something where the girls try to make him feel better, they actually explain their past. Bonbori and Hozuki certainly have an interesting spiritual past that's done as widescreen within widescreen to give it a very good effect, very theatrical in its nature and with the really appealing animation of it. Their trials as children, their encounter with a human when coming out in the daylight when expressly forbidden to, has them dealing with a truly frightful situation. To know that they went from such a rough place to one where they have the confidence they do now shows their growth wonderfully, even if it's not fully laid out. The small story they tell goes a long way towards explaining the pair and their relationship but also why they're not standing off to the side and afraid to get involved.
While a good chunk of the episode focuses on that trio, Zakuro herself isn't a no show here nor as mildly used as she was in the previous episode. As Kei has noted, she's definitely been acting off since the gala while Kei has been slowly getting more and more comfortable with all the spirits and half spirits he has to deal with every day. We do see some time of Zakuro being younger and how she interacted with some of the others, which just goes to reinforce her cheerful nature. It's interesting that they push that though since she hasn't been too terribly cheerful since the humans came into the mix here. She's had her moments where there's a softening of relations between her and Kei, but for the most part she's been mostly harsh. And with the issue of her mother now weighing on her mind after the gala, she's even more serious and keeping to herself more. Which only makes things harder for Kei and everyone else in the end.
Taking things a bit slower here, and actually avoiding doing a monster of the week issues, really does help the show a lot. The twins really come across well here with a very cinematic look at their past and it's something that should start easing tensions for Ganryu after the gala. Less exciting is the issues that Zakuro is going through, though it's a seeded moment for later in the series to be sure. She and Kei have been really interesting to watch as it is a slow thawing between the two and seeing Kei's prejudices being worked through as he deals with the spirits more has been wonderful. What highlights this episode, and a lot of this series so far, are the small moments that really define who these people are. And that keeps us coming back week after week for it.
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.