In Alice & Zouroku episode 9, Where the Cheshire Cat Smiles, Sana Kashimura recovers from the exhaustion of overusing her powers and tries to enjoy a sleepover with Yonaga and Asahi Hinagiri. She’s still shaken by the memory of seeing Zouroku Kashimura frozen. Shikishima Hatori tries to deal with having become a bad witch and tries to send her friend Miho Ayumu away. Without a Mirror Gate of her own, what can Ayumu do? And how far will Sana go to protect her family?
Note: This post may include spoilers, so be cautious!
What’s In This Post
Hatori and Ayumu return home after their encounter with Sana. Hatori doesn’t know what to do; she doesn’t know if the mom who meets here is her mom or the product of her Mirror Gate. Hatori has become convinced that she’s the evil witch.
The Hinagiri twins watch as Sanae Kashimura fixes dinner. Sana still hasn’t awoken after over-taxing her Mirror Gate in the previous episode. When she does wake up, the first thing she does is look for Zouroku. She’s nearly frantic before he comes into the room. She’s crying as she hugs him. When he leaves for work, she demands that he call her if anything happens — or even if nothing happens. She’s somehow able to relax and enjoy Yonaga and Asahi’s visit, and she’s astonished and delighted that the girls can stay overnight. Sana shows off how much she’s learned about living in the world until dinner time, when the girls eat at least four pizzas on top of a traditional Japanese meal — or two. Sana’s relieved that Zouroku calls home as she’s finishing the dishes. Sanae has to quiet the girls down after they go do bed; she’s disappointed that she can’t join in the fun!
Sana can’t get to sleep; she’s worried about Zouroku, and she blames Hatori for disrupting the peace and security in her family. She and her friends talk about the events surrounding Hatori; Sana’s convinced the girl’s evil for threatening her family and friends. When Zouroku finally gets home, Sana hugs him and can’t let him go. The twins watch from the top of the stairs, and they smile at how much Sana has grown. The twins go home the next morning, and Sana is disappointed that Zouroku has to go to work on his day off to fix all the arrangements that had gone bad while he was frozen. Sana’s reminded again of the impact Hatori has had on her family.
Ayumu visits Hatori, who hasn’t been to school. Hatori says that since she’s a bad witch, she’s going to stay home, using her power to prevent her parents from fighting, and will cut herself off from everyone. That includes Ayumu, who Hatori tells to stay away. Ayumu determines to help her friend, though she’s not sure how. Meanwhile, when he comes home, Zouroku finds that Sana’s been drawing like crazy, and not even Sanae has any idea what she’s doing. He take a moment to admire the cat face that she’s drawing, but he doesn’t seem to notice her almost sinister smile.*
At about the same time, Noriko Yamada and Ryuu Naitou, having seen the surveillance feeds from when Hatori froze everyone, try to visit Hatori’s house. Hatori uses her power to erase their memory, but Naitou had written their mission on the back of his hand. So when they were driving away thinking they’d finished, he saw the note and realized Hatori had tricked them again — for the fifth time.
Ayumu comes up with a plan: find Sana, though she doesn’t know her name, and ask for help, since Sana seemed to be as powerful as or more powerful than Hatori. What’s more, Sana seemed to know what she was doing. Asumu returns to the street where the incident had occurred. She asks around, but she doesn’t have enough of a description of Sana to get any help. She’s trying to think of her next step when she’s astonished to see a disembodied Cheshire cat’s head appear before her. The next thing she knows, she’s calling down a deep hole, but she’s not injured when she hits the ground. The scene abruptly changes, and she’s standing on what looks like a huge checkerboard. Feigning an evil laugh, Sana arrives wearing a royal red robe and crown. She announces that she’s going to teach the “evil, frazzling meanie” a lesson.
* Well, as sinister as Sana can be. Fortunately for the world, she doesn’t seem inclined to cruelty.
What I Liked
I feel sorry for Hatori. She’s just a kid trying to deal with powers few people have. Who can she possibly turn to? She made an enemy of the only other Dream of Alice that she has encountered, and worse: the only model she had for understanding her power was a story about a witch who misused her powers. I can’t blame her at all for viewing herself in that light, and that’s tragic.
Someone in the Hinagiri twin’s life must have taught them good manners. They really seemed uncomfortable that they couldn’t help Sanae fix dinner!
Zouroku must be a tremendously comforting presence. He knew something had happened yesterday (maybe he noticed an unusual passage of time?), but he took it in stride. In doing so, he gave Sana the space to pull herself back together.
The twins are astonished that Sana does something as mundane as take a bath or wash herself without using her powers. Seeing Sana’s progress through their eyes, it’s easy to understand the wholesome and powerful impact that Zouroku and Sanae have had on Sana.
Sana’s a little embarrassed when Sanae tells the twins what kind of bath additives Sana likes. While that was adorable, it was another indication that Sana treasures her family life and everything about it. In other words, it was another motivation for what she does later in the episode.
Sana tried to describe what a “crow’s quick bath” was to Asahi. Apparently, it’s really a thing. Of course, at Crow’s World of Anime, we’d take a keen interest in anything dealing with our crow brethren!
My goodness but those girls can put away the food! I suspect the Mirror Gates, even if they didn’t impart overt magical powers, would be a huge hit in the diet and nutrition market.
Around 8:45, it seems that Sana noticed that Yonaga and Asahi had switched personalities — or at least had switched which was eldest or dominant. That reminded me in a previous episode, as the two joined the research institute, they seemed to decide almost on the spur of the moment who was the eldest. That was after they’d spent most of the episode speaking in unison. The show seems to be casually dropping more and more hints about these girls. I like the pacing — and I’ve to know more!
Sana doesn’t realize it, but she’s really lucky to have friends like Yonaga and Asahi. They share a common frame of reference, and talking about Mirror Gates and their effects is second nature for them. Hatori’s all alone; she has no one to turn to. But even when one of the twins suggests that Hatori must have been scared just like Sana was, Sana responded that Hatori’s evil. Sana cherishes the Kashimura family’s warmth and support, so she naturally takes a dim view of anyone who would threaten it — even if accidentally.
Not only does Hatori have to contend with the mental model of the bad witch; she’d heard what happens when a bear comes down from the mountain and attacks a human. That bear can never be allowed to return to the wild because it may have acquired a taste for humans — or at least lost its fear of humans. Hatori thinks that idea applies to her. She’s too scared to accept help from Yamada or Naitou; she’s made an enemy of Sana. Things look pretty bleak for her right now — and that’s a good thing for drama!
The trap door that Sana laid in the street under Ayumu’s feed? Its keystone was a little heart! I certainly hope that’s a sign of Sana’s mindset when she built this trap — namely, that she intends to scare Ayumu and Hatori, but not actually hurt them. I don’t want to see Sana succumb to the temptation to use her powers to harm others!
The award for “Most Adorable Thing” for the week goes to Sana’s “evil” laugh.
With Sana obeying Zouroku’s orders to use her powers sparingly, it’s been easy to forget that those in the institute knew Sana for being able to great entire worlds down to fantastical beings. At the end of this episode, we get to see just how seriously Sana’s taken this threat to her family: she built an entire world to teach Ayumu and Hatori a lesson.
What I Liked Less
I wish Sana would have been able to understand that Ayumu had been trying to reach out to her during the original Hatori incident, but Sana was too distraught to see it. As it stands, Ayumu is too terrified to say much, and Sana’s bent on revenge. I just hope the Red Queen doesn’t get out of control!
Sana was unaware of her personality boundaries before she met Yonaga and Asahi. Is that a trait common to those born with Mirror Gates? Do the twins have trouble telling themselves apart even now? They seemed to switch roles when they were sleeping over with Sana. What does that mean for the story going forward? I’m really enjoying how subtle the storytelling is in this show!
I’m worried about Sana turning to the dark side, so to speak. In reflecting on why I think that, given that the narrative has given no indication that Sana has an evil inclination in her whole being, I recall that one of my earliest experiences of super powers in fiction was the original Star Trek episode Charlie X. The idea’s simple yet profound: a young boy was the sole survivor when his starship crashed on a non-human planet. The inhabitants granted him their powers to keep him alive, but those powers bordered on miraculous, even to those in Star Trek’s century. As Charlie was a young man unaccustomed to being around people, when he was “rescued,” he couldn’t process all of the emotions stirred up by being around humans again, and his power went out of control. People died before the planet’s inhabitants caught up with the Enterprise so they could take him “home.”
I’m really hoping that’s not happening to Sana. I hope that she really does just want to teach — literally impart knowledge and not pain or punishment — to Ayumu and Hatori. The show did a great job showing just how shaken and scared Sana felt in the aftermath of the attack. Now, I hope it goes on to show how generous and kind she’s become as part of the Kashimura family.
What do you think? Will Sana go dark? Make the Kashimura family proud? Take another course? Share your thoughts in the comments!
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- 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
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- Alice & Zouroku Episode 10: The Little Queen
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- Alice & Zouroku Episode 12: I’m Home