The looming threats take a more forceful hand in this episode which sets Zakuro on fire.
What They Say:
Episode 8 - Fickle Rain
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Otome Yokai Zakuro has hinted at larger things to deal with but has mostly stuck to playing with three different things. A variety of yokai have shown themselves so far but they've come across as one-off issues rather than something larger. The second element has been the racial prejudices that have come out and that's been handled really well with both sides of the cast as they deal with each other and those of the general public. The third angle has been the slow and simmering romances that are visible across the spectrum here as the humans and half spirits have plenty of interest in each other, though societal issues keep them from really pursuing it far or quickly just yet. The slow but sure method used here definitely gives it a more realistic feel while at the same time not making it feel like it's being dragged out when it's so patently obvious.
The looming threat we've known about for a little bit, since the gala event in particular, makes itself known again when a pair of the hooded characters surprise Kei and Susukihotaru on the street and takes them down easily enough. Spiriting them away, and informing them that Zakuro is responsible for their position, puts them on edge but Kei keeps calm and starts working to figure out both how to escape and what the larger meaning of all of it is. While they deal in that, the arrival of the package and weapon that Kei and Susukihotaru had on them sets everyone on edge since they know their friends and comrades have been taken. While the episode opened with some lightness, it turns dark quickly because of this and leads to one of the more intense combat sequences of the show so far I think.
Action hasn't been high on this shows list but when it sets out to do it, it has done it well. More magical than anything else so far, this one gives us a good sword fight with Zakuro really going at it against the women that come to fight her, as led by Black Widow. Because of her friends lives being at stake, Zakuro really goes at it in a way that is emotionally charged, giving it an edge over previous fights we've seen her involved in. There's such a good sense of atmosphere and presence about it and they keep the music from overwhelming it that the fight becomes one of the highlights of the series. Thankfully, they don't allow the big action sequence to be the dominating element of the episode by ending on it and instead going for the more personal side for several minutes in dealing with the fallout. The emotional context of it, particularly for Zakuro who is becoming much more human through her time in the Ministry, is very important here to watch. It's the piece that plays well into all three main aspects of this series and binds her more to all worlds.
With the series inching closer towards its conclusion, though the manga is still ongoing, the formal introduction of the main villainess is very welcome here. She provides the very sultry and sensual counterpoint to Zakuro with her more formal ways and controlled appearance. Setting a fight in motion here shows just how emotional Zakuro can get, which is part of what you see Black Widow trying to draw out, helps to make the episode every engaging since it's a way we don't see her often. And having it be a sword fight only adds to that, with its rich choreography and the overall atmosphere built around it. Though we're teased more than anything else here, it's a wonderful tease that makes you very keen to see the remainder of the series to see where it will go.
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.