Note: This post may include spoilers, so be cautious!
In Alice & Zouroku episode 8, The Evil Witch, Shikishima Hatori’s Mirror Gate manifests itself to maintain peace in her family, but how long will such an artificial state last? Miho Ayumu, her friend, agrees to leave home with her, but their paths soon intersect with Sana Kashimura. How will Sana react to everyone around her — including Zouroku Kashimura — turning into mindless zombies?
What’s In This Post
Hatori’s mother is disappointed in her daughter’s school situation, and she doesn’t hide it well from her daughter. That makes Hatori feel dejected and guilty. Her father and mother both argue over their contributions to the current situation to the point where Hatori desperately prays for family peace — and her Mirror Gate manifests itself for the first time. Through the Mirror Gate, her prayer changes her parent’s behavior, and at first, she’s elated. One day at school, Hatori accidentally uses her power in front of Ayumu, who’s impressed that her friend’s a good witch. They play with the power — sometimes pulling embarrassing pranks on other students. However, the situation at Hatori’s home deteriorates until her use of power turns her parents into silent zombies. Hatori decides to leave home to save them, and Ayumu offers to follow.
Sana’s happily helping at Zouroku’s florist shop. She’s eagerly awaiting the arrival of Yonaga and Asahi Hinagiri, who are coming over to play. She’s looking forward to impressing her friends with all the things she’s learned while in the real world. As Yonaga and Asahi make their way to Sana’s house (after getting lost a few times), they suddenly freeze as Hatori orders everyone to stop. She and Ayumu are running away from home. At the same time, Sana finds Zouroku and the shop workers are frozen, too, and she panics. She rushes into the street looking for help or answers and attracts Hatori and Ayumu’s attention. When the two friends find Sana, she’s distraught. They ask how she’s not affected by magic. Sana doesn’t understand the question and demands to know what’s going on. She’s terrified for Zouroku and she’s feeling frazzled again. Ayumu sees an opportunity — if she can learn how Sana remains unaffected, maybe they can figure out how to protect those around Hatori so she does not need to run away. Sana still doesn’t understand what they mean by magic; she only understands that these two have something to do with whatever stopped everyone.
In a panic, Sana invokes her Mirror Gate and completely negates Hatori’s power over everyone. Determined to punish the two for doing something wrong, Sana summons a giant Santa with a huge wooden mallet. Hatori’s Mirror Gate, plus the simultaneous collapse of Sana’s Mirror Gate, saves her. The two fight, each one’s Mirror Gate negating the other — or maybe an outside force was interfering. Sana, frustrated that she can’t use her Mirror Gate, resorts to using her fists until Hatori shoves her down and leaves. Sana collapses, out of energy. As they walk away, Hatori stops, almost in tears, and tells her friend that she realizes she’s become the bad witch.
What I Liked
This show offers a realistic portrayal of family life — sometimes depressingly so. Hatori’s family is as toxic as Ayumu’s is supportive. The reason I “like” this is that it creates drama that feels authentic. If all we saw was the almost incredibly positive influence in the Kashimura household, the show just wouldn’t feel realistic.
This episode made good use of the story of the Good Witch and her warning to the little girl to use her magic for good. It let Hatori be a little girl — playing stupid pranks on students, panicking when her power goes out of control — while reinforcing the moral framework of her choices in a non-preachy way.
Hatori’s panic when she realized she’d turned her parents into zombies felt vital and real. Her observation that God was mean to give her this kind of power with such consequences was a great and sad example of a human coming face to face with a harsh, bed-rock reality. All she’d wanted was her family to get along. When she used her power to achieve that, from her perspective, she ended up destroying her family. That had to be a painful realization about how real life works!
What was up with Zouroku forgetting what the foam floral blocks were called — or, as Sana calls them, “the green things you stick flowers in?” I hope this isn’t foreshadowing dementia or Alzheimers.
Speaking of foam floral blocks, her reaction to wringing them out before throwing them away was charming! So were the Hinagiri twins’ reactions to getting lost. Yonaga was embarrassed about not being able to read a map — or in trying to use Sana’s map in the first place! — but when she saw food stalls, she was sorely tempted to be late to their playdate with Sana.
Hatori pays for the food she and her friend eat after using her powers to make others move out of the way. She’s clearly not trying to be evil! That’s one of the things I like about this episode. Every decision she makes is reasonable in that moment, but the cumulative effect is that she and Sana come to blows.
Sana’s a gentle soul, but when she loses control, she loses control. If Hatori’s Mirror Gate hadn’t saved her, or if Sana’s Mirror Gate hasn’t collapsed, I’m not convinced that Hatori or Ayumu would have survived. That’s a good reminder that Sana’s Mirror Gate isn’t a cute, old-style magical girl power that’s all light and fluff. It can be a deadly force. That Zouroku, Sanae, and Shizuku Ichijou know this and still accept her into their lives is a beautiful attestation of their love for her.
As she and Ayumu walked away from the confrontation with Sana, Hatori reflected on how Sana must have felt seeing everyone around her acting lifeless, and she realized that she’d just used her powers for something that could objectively be called “bad.”
What I Liked Less
I wonder what Ayumu’s parents are doing? They clearly loved their daughter, so I wonder if the girls’ escape is still so new that the parents haven’t noticed?
This show is so incredibly effective at presenting tender moments — I mean, Sana’s reaction to squeezing the water out of the foam blocks was just awesome! — that it’s sometimes easy to forget it’s the same show where Minnie C casually put a bullet in Sana’s leg.
That’s why I’m still worried about the errors in Sana’s Mirror Gate. During her fight with Hatori, Sana’s Mirror Gate manifested errors again, if I interpreted the squares correctly. On the other hand, she seemed to have no trouble when she was happily helping at work, so maybe the errors are directly tied to her feeling frazzled.
I’m also curious why both her and Hatori’s Mirror Gate flicked out of existence near the end of their fight (right before Sana adorably started pounding her). I didn’t think that the Yonaga or Asahi’s powers worked like that, so even though they were nearby, I doubt they were behind it. Was the phenomenon a result of Sana being tired and Hatori being inexperienced in Mirror Gate fighting? Was there an outside influence — maybe Ichijo in the shadows — trying to stop the supernatural aspects of the fight? In fights before, the Mirror Gate remained stable regardless of attacks until the owner became exhausted. The show’s done a good job explaining itself so far, so I’m hopeful we’ll find out more next week.
What do you think was going on with the Mirror Gates? Let me know in the comments!
Other Posts of Interest
- Titans, Heroes, Queens, and Swords: Spring 2017 Anime Preview Part I
- Aliens, Gears, Game Creation, and Worlds in Collision: Spring 2017 Anime Preview Part II!
- Alice & Zouroku Episode 1 Review: The Red Queen Escapes
- Alice & Zouroku Episode 2 Review: Dreams of Alice
- Alice & Zouroku Episode 3 Review: Cards
- Alice & Zouroku Episode 4 Review: Something Not Human
- Alice & Zouroku Episode 5 Review: A Home to Return To
- Alice & Zouroku Episode SP Review: Looking Ahead to Part 2
- Alice & Zouroku Episode 6: The Kashimura Family
- Alice & Zouroku Episode 7: Friends
- Alice & Zouroku Episode 9: Where the Cheshire Cat Smiles
- Alice & Zouroku Episode 10: The Little Queen
- Alice & Zouroku Episode 11: The Queen and the Witch
- Alice & Zouroku Episode 12: I’m Home