Anime

Review: Otome Yokai Zakuro Episode 8: A Tragic Shopping Trip and a Tearful Embrace

Quick Summary

In Otome Yokai Zakuro episode 8, “Fickle Rain,” Kei Agemaki was out shopping when he came across Susukihotaru. She was going to return a sword to Aya Orikata’s store, so they decided to go together. Just as they arrived, two hooded and cloaked figures blew sparkling gold dust in their faces, and they passed out. Aya found the sword and their other belongings in the road, so she rushed to the Ministry of Spirit Affairs. Riken Yoshinokazura and Zakuro were ready to leave immediately, but Kushimatsu forbade Zakuro from going — to the point where she had to literally lock Zakuro up. What’s motivating Kushimatsu? What will happen to Kei and Susukihotaru? And will Riken and other do about Kushimatsu’s orders?

Note: This post may include spoilers, so be cautious.

What’s in This Post

3 Favorite Moments

Moment 1: Riken Makes a Command Decision

Riken’s going to go save Susukihotaru. That’s just the way that is. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

I feel really bad for Kushimatsu. It’s clear she not only feels a powerful duty towards Zakuro — she also loves her as if she were a daughter. The very thought of Zakuro in danger seems to petrify the fox spirit.

But Zakuro’s not ornamental. She’s not made of porcelain. And she has good, strong friends.

Speaking of good, strong friends, there was no way Riken was not going after Susukihotaru. He’s smart enough a soldier to know he’ll need backup, and when it comes to offensive power, he knew that meant Zakuro. And you know what? I think he might have felt like he owed it to her — to take her with him to help save Kei.

After she’d been locked up, Zakuro was surprised to hear someone unlock her door. She was astronished to see both Riken and Aya (Mugi asleep on her back) standing there. She was so surprised, in fact, that she couldn’t stop her reaction to seeing Aya’s cleavage.

Uh, Zakuro? Aya’s eyes are a little higher… Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

“Boob lady,” she said under her breath (08:05).

The moment of humor passed quickly as Riken said, “Come with me. I want to save Susukihotaru. I’ll take full responsibility” (08:10).

Riken’s a man of few words. But when he does speak, he makes his words count. There’s something I find very, very powerful about his simple statement that he wants to “save Susukihotaru.” No bragging. No macho posturing. Just a simple, honest statement.

Moment 2: Susukihotaru Takes Charge

There was no way the warrior Susukihotaru was going to cower when there was a door to brace. As a side note, the screen caps sure are dark in this episode… Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

After Daidai and Byakuroku diverted the rainwater to the cellar door, things began to get desparate for Kei and Susukihotaru. She and Kei tried their best to brace the door, but Kei saw that it was a lost cause. He asked her to get in front of him.

She didn’t understand how that would help brace the door, so he candidly told her that it wouldn’t. “But I can serve as a shield, at least” (16:23).

Remember how timid Susukihotaru was at the beginning of the series? Yeah, that timid half spirit is long gone. There was no way she was going to use Kei as a human shield.

He tried his best argument: “Zakuro would be sad if something happened to you!”

And she threw it right back at him, saying (16:41) “Zakuro would also be sad if anything happened to you! I refuse to back down!”

That’s a wonderful amount of character growth in just eight episodes!

Moment 3: Kei at His Strongest

Kei gave Zakuro exactly what she needed in that moment. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

You want to know what masculine strength looks like? I’ve got the perfect example for you. And apologies for my terminology here — I’m limited by my experience, so I’m doing the best I can. No offense intended to anyone anywhere!

After they’d all arrived home safely, Kei brought the package he had purchased and tried to give it to Zakuro. He could tell she was angry, and he was trying to tread carefully. He was also a little surprised that she knew the package contained bamboo leaf candy. When Aya brought the package back to the Ministry, it had had a receipt, and Zakuro had seen it.

Her anger seemed to surge. She was furious that he had taken her demand for sweets seriously (from the previous episode). He was taken aback. He didn’t understand why that would make her so angry.

Then it became clear.

“You could have di… Died,” she said (19:34). To his shock, she actually began to cry.

How much does Zakuro trust Kei? Enough to cry in front of him. She could have run off, despite her protestations. But she didn’t. She stayed with him. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Confused at her own emotions, she turned away from him and demanded he not look at her. And for perhaps the first time since he met Zakuro, he knew what he should do. Even better, he had the courage to do it. He walked up behind her and wrapped his arms around her. Quietly, as she sobbed, he told her he was sorry he had made her worry.

She denied she had been worried vehemently, but the tears only feel harder. Every time she denied it, he just said “Mm” and held her. He didn’t argue. He didn’t try to console her with words. He just held her. They stood that way for a long while.

The two of them are a great couple. They each make the other stronger, more able to articulate and express who they are. Given what we learned about their enemies in this episode, they’re going to need all the strength they can muster.

Thoughts

Nine. That’s how many contenders I had for the top 3 moments this week. And I had to restrain myself from nominating even more! This show is to fantasy/romance what Toradora is to romance/comedy: the genre reference model.

Speaking of reference model, this episode contained one for the idea of “contrast.”

Take a look at the outcome of my third favorite moment: Kei holding Zakuro, giving her a warm emotional space to be herself.

Byakuroku’s situation is the polar opposite of Zakuro’s. Who does Byakuroku turn to to ward off despair? It’s certainly not Rangui… Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Now, take a look Byakuroku, lying naked and alone, trying to heal, after hearing Rangui calling her and her sister Daidai (who she loves dearly) “dirty half spirits.” Byakuroku’s physical chill was nothing compared to what she must be feeling in her heart.

That’s contrast.

This show is so incredibly deft when it comes to crafting emotionally charged scenes. That extends to character motivations, too. In this episode, we learned a little more (but not too much!) about Kushimatsu. We’ve seen in previous episodes how the fox spirit doesn’t want to expose Zakuro to any danger, despite Zakuro’s obvious skill at protecting herself and others. In this episode, we saw that concern become almost irrational. Riken and Zakuro were the logical choices to rescue Kei and Susukihotaru. Yet, Kushimatsu came out and forbade Zakuro from going.

Kushimatsu unintentionally made it a lot worse than it had to be? Maybe out of a sense of concern for Zakuro’s emotional safety, Kushimatsu wouldn’t tell Zakuro why she had been forbidden. That was not only disrespectful to Zakuro. It was hurtful. Zakuro trusted her protector. She looked to her for guidance. Her withholding information this late in the game only made Zakuro feel mistrusted. I think that’s why Zakuro didn’t put up more of a fight when she was locked up. She was too hurt.

Amaryouju knew what was what. It’s not that he didn’t care for Zakuro. It’s that he understood that trusting her was the right decision in this case. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who thought Kushimatsu crossed a line. Amaryouju confronted the fox spirit when she was apart from the others. He asked her what the heck she thought she was doing (in his very polite but forceful way). Kushimatsu’s voice actor, Kazue Komiya did a fantastic job with the response. I could feel the anguish in her voice. “I must protect her… Always protect her. That was the promise I made” (07:22). She was desperate to protect Zakuro, not only out of a sense of obligation, but because she loved her charge. The situation was spiraling out of her control. She doesn’t know what to do. So, she grasped what she had too tightly. She threw Zakuro in a locked room.

Amaryouju told her flat out to let Zakuro go. Or he would lock her up. At the same time, he dropped a hint about their enemies, and showed that he knew exactly who they were up against. “What can a fox spirit do against the Village of Oracles?”

This is the eighth episode. The characters aren’t only invested in each other. I’m invested in each one of them. It looks like we’re about to see that investment tested. Man, I love this series.

What did you think of the reveals in this episode? What were your favorite moments? Let me know in the comments!

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