In Otome Yokai Zakuro episode 3, “Tragic Past,” Zakuro was anxious to go on her next mission, especially since Susukihotaru and Riken Yoshinokazura were already on a mission. So were Bonbori, Houzuki, and Ganryuu Hanakiri. Kushimatsu, though, was reluctant to let her go because Zakuro just wasn’t getting along well with her partner, Kei Agemaki. When a new potential customer came to visit, Zakuro was excited, hoping she and Kei would get the assignment. But when she heard the man tell the story of young women disappearing from his village, she threw caution to the wind and begged Kushimatsu for the assignment. What got Zakuro so worked up? Will Kushimatsu let her go? And if she does, what will Zakuro and Kei find at the remote village?
Note: This post may include spoilers, so be cautious.
What’s in This Post
3 Favorite Moments
Moment 1: Kei and Zakuro Share a Room
I like how honestly Zakuro and Kei’s relationship is developing. Tiny steps, one at a time… Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
Kei and Zakuro were to share a room. Well, Kei and Zakuro and Mamezou were to share a room. After the three of them traveled by train to the remote village, their host apologetically showed them to a single room. Mamezou couldn’t let the moment pass without saying (07:49), “Ooh! This is mighty titillating!” Kei, who as a solider was more used to spartan lodging, simply started getting ready for bed. Zakuro, however, again showed her naiveté, blushing bright red and going so far as to lay out a line of stones between their futons. She threatened him with bodily harm if he crossed the line.
Then he made a big mistake: he said there was no way he’d cross the line because he was scared of her. At her ferocious glare, he tried to say that he didn’t think half-spirits were scary: only her. Even as he said the words, you could tell he wanted to take them back. That wasn’t what he meant, either.
Kei’s accidental slight triggered a self-reflective mood in Zakuro. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
In a quiet voice, she said that he was probably right; that there was no way a human would want to touch a half-spirit. He was now smart enough to stay quiet, which was just as well. The situation, their solitude, and her melancholy put her in a mood to talk. She told him the story of how half-spirits came into being. She told him about her mother, and how she’d been spirited away twice: once coming home with Zakuro, and a second time, never to return.
She told him she wanted to take this case to see if she could find any clues about her mom.
Zakuro was facing away from him, lying on her side. He started to reach across the stones to take her hand, but he stopped just inches short.
I really liked how this scene showed them beginning to build an understanding. It feels like their relationship is growing realistically.
Moment 2: Mamezou, the Saber, and the Orange
It might come as a shock, but Zakuro actually smiled at Kei. Seriously! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
While Zakuro and Kei searched for clues, they realized some children had been tailing them. So, Zakuro started playing with them while Kei watched with what Zakuro would later call a “stupid grin” on his face. When the parents came to escort the children home for the evening, Zakuro heard a mysterious voice calling to her. Kei didn’t hear it, but he could see by her expression and posture that Zakuro had heard something. She denied it, but he was on guard.
That night, when she rose with a blank expression and left the room, he was ready. He jumped up, picked up the slumbering Mamezou, and tried to follow her. But even in a trance, Zakuro was fast, and he soon lost her. Then he saw a huge, beautiful fox spirit gliding overhead. He didn’t know it, but it was Kushimatsu, who took to the field because she was worried for Zakuro’s safety. Kei thought the spirit might be dangerous, so he doubled his efforts.
I could imagine Kei saying to Zakuro, “The cave might be dangerous. Take this sleeping Mamezou for protection.” Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
Zakuro arrived at a cave. Just as she was about to plunge in, Kei caught up to her and grabbed her by the wrist (16:14). She immediately snapped out of the trance. She looked around, clearly not understanding how she’d gotten there. Seeing the cave, she almost started to enter.
Kei put his hand on her shoulder and said, “First things first” (16:47). He handed her, in this order, the sleeping Mamezou, his saber, and an orange. “Since I was in a hurry, this is all I could manage.”
Nervous that he couldn’t interpret her expression, he asked her what was wrong.
She actually smiled at him.
This marks another important step in their relationship!
Moment 3: Well, His Heart Was in the Right Place…
Well, Kei tried… He failed, but he tried. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
They were right to be cautious about the cave: it housed the bones of dozens (if not hundreds) of young women and children. Worse, it housed the spirit that had eaten them.
When Zakuro saw the creature, she told Kei that the young women had not been spirited away; they’re been lured away as food for this spirit! As the monster started to attack, Mamezou gave Zakuro her blade. She asked Kei to help her fight.
Do you remember the opening scene of the first episode? The one where Susukihotaru, Bonbori, and Houzuki sang as Zakuro attacked the demon? Well, Kei, knowing that Zakuro had never been impressed with his fighting ability, started to mimic their song.
Clapping hands and all.
If he thought Zakuro wasn’t impressed with his fighting ability…
You know those harem shows — or any romantically-themed shows, for that matter — where two characters just fall for each other? Sometimes for no more reason than the series wouldn’t have a plot if they didn’t?
Those aren’t among my favorites.
I can’t tell if Bonbori and Houzuki really like Ganryuu, or if they see him as a new toy. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
I much prefer series where two characters slowly grow closer together because they are actually attracted to each other. I much prefer series where there’s real chemistry between the characters. We had a surprising — and surprisingly good — example recently between Marlya and Veronica in Fairy gone. Another great example, probably my favorite relationship to watch develop, is the one between Ryuuji Takasu and Taiga Aisaka from Toradora. For me, that’s the gold standard.
But you know what? The relationship developing between Zakuro and Kei isn’t that far behind. Just look at the small steps they took in my first two favorite moments for this episode.
Those weren’t the only examples. When Zakuro and Kei were listening to the man describe why he had come to the Ministry of Spirit Affairs, the two of them acted very much like they were in cahoots.
When Kei smiled at the sight of Zakuro playing with the children, she chided him for it — but not strongly. Or even better, did you see how she reacted after the fight in the cave, when he looked depressed? He said that he was down, because she was always saving him. He was a soldier. He knew there are times he would save his comrades, and times they would save him. But from his perspective, Zakuro was always saving him, and he felt irresponsible.
Zakuro’s reaction to Kei was telling. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.
Did you see how Zakuro reacted? “That’s not true,” she said (21:05). Quietly enough that he didn’t hear it, sure — but she said it.
She might not know it, but I think she’s seriously starting to warm up to him. Even better, I think he’s earning her affection, even if he still makes missteps like trying to sing in support of Zakuro’s fight in the cave. Seriously, what was he thinking? But at least he’s trying. And so is she.
What did you think about what we learned of the origins of half-spirits? What were your favorite moments? Let me know in the comments!
Other Posts about This Series
Other Anime Sites
This Site (Crow’s World of Anime!)
- Otome Yokai Zakuro Episode 1: Prepare to be Bewitched
- Otome Yokai Zakuro Episode 2: Crimson Brilliance
- Otome Yokai Zakuro Episode 3: Tragic Past
- Otome Yokai Zakuro Episode 4: Timid Distance
- Otome Yokai Zakuro Episode 5: Sticky Trap