This show continues to amaze me at how engaging it is. Conflicting morals, strange relationships and a strong bond between those you both hate and love seep into conversations about the supernatural that feel more human than fantasy. And I love every minute of it.
For the most part, these two ep were focused on the human characters, particularly the Friday Fellows. For a while, the Friday Fellows have only been known in the dark. All we knew was that they annually stewed a tanuki for a hot pot, and that both tanuki and tengu fear them. Heck, several tengu even work under them as if they were hired yakuza guards.
But surprisingly the Friday Fellows aren’t as threatening as we see them as. Much of them consist of laid back citizens each from different backgrounds. Other than their overwhelming power and influence, the Friday Fellows aren’t really different from that of any other Bar. In fact the annual tradition of eating tanuki isn’t even something most members look forward too.
Of course if the Friday Fellows mostly find it as nothing but tradition, there has to be someone that’s keeping the tradition alive. And other than Benten, no one represents that better than the Proffesor. Much like how a Praying Mantis expresses its love, the Professor doesn’t eat tanukis out of hunger, but of love. He loves tanukis more than any other member of Friday Fellows, and sees enjoying them as a meal is the least he can do to honor the species. Heck, the irony of his love directly links to Yasaburou considering that he saved his mother when her leg was broken, but ended up eating his father when Benten first joined.
Thankfully, he doesn’t overshadow what kept our attention this long: the relationship between Benten and Yasaburou. Benten seems to share the ideals of the professor, particularly toward Yasaburou. Her statement of loving so much that she could eat him is no joke, and she’s fully aware that doing so would mean he’s gone. We think it’s just plain irony meant for slight teasing, but then she takes him to a private bar and shows a more vulnerable side when she starts staring at the moon. In fact, we even see her cry near Yajirou’s well. We don’t know the reason, but it’s clear she’s not as carefree as we thought she was.
And as for Yasaburou, he continues to be at his limits when it comes with dealing with the two. By all rights he should be mad at the professor for eating his father, but he honestly finds him to be quite likeable, and continues to be thankful to him for saving his mother. And as for Benten, he still can’t help but be entranced by her despite the fact he almost got eaten by her recently.
I’d love to call this perfect, but I have noticed an important fact that’s been ignored for a while. Simply put, we’ve been so focused on Yasaburou’s relationships with other characters that we haven’t got much screentime for the social structure of the Tanukis and Tengu. It’s not a big complaint considering we’ve already received hints of the inner power struggle of tanuki society after the Nise-emon’s death, but it’s a part that if handled clumsy could make this overly complicated or, at worst, end up a big mess. Hopefully it doesn’t reach there. I really want PA works to do it right this time.