I found episode seven one of the more enjoyable back flash stories… to be honest we’ve only gotten snippets of the Kumo boys’ tragic background and mostly because it’s related to Soramaru’s fragmented memories of the past. Not only were we introduced to Hirari upon Tenka’s execution, we also got to see how he’s tied to the story alongside Botan who was the most ambiguous character up till now in the anime adaptation. Episode seven should give a proper full story perspective on the glimpses we previously saw in episode six where Botan was narrating the story of the Orochi to the younger Kumo brothers. While I felt that some scenes in episode six should have been scrapped, the repetition does help the viewers connect episode six and seven together when the back story of Hirari and Botan seem like a completely sidetracked subplot.
Botan was a shikigami summoned by the Abeno clan and sustains herself wholly for the reason for sealing the Orochi. A young man from the Abeno clan named Hirari ends up falling in love with Botan. As a child, Hirari was one of the countless boys trained to become bait for the Orochi, to distract the Orochi while Botan prepares the sealing ritual. The Kumo family was expected to be the shield to Botan. Hirari is reborn in the Meiji era and will come up meet Botan again. Fate is both cruel and ironic like that and Botan and Hirari here seem to be caught in a pretty vicious cycle because either Hirari will be eaten by the Orochi or Botan will disappear after the Orochi is sealed because she is essentially a familiar. The last scenes with Botan and Hirari are truly beautiful though and give the series and their characters some hope, however, bittersweet, after the tragic events in the present-day plot.
I really enjoy seeing the Kumo brothers’ ancestors because we really don’t get much of the family beyond the brothers’ usual interactions and it makes you wonder if every generation of the Kumo were as carefree as Tenka was and has taught his brothers to be. While the main series is set in the Meiji period, if you’re interested in checking out some of the Kumo ancestors, you can read all about it in Rengoku ni Warau which is set in the Tensho period. The Kumo siblings in that spin-off series are eccentrically different from the three brothers in this timeline but still possess that strong loyalty to their kin and unperturbed sense of charm.
While I thought that this episode was a decent moment in the pacing to throw a back story our way, I can’t help sympathizing with the anime-only viewers who have been totally left hanging after the sudden and tragic death of Tenka Kumo. See, we really don’t get to see the brothers grieve in an outright sense. Both will cope with Tenka’s death differently, on their own terms, and emerge with similar resolution, somehow. However, between Tenka’s death and the resolution of the story we’ll end up seeing a bit of distance between Soramaru and Chutaro as they both strive for a new balance in their lives by looking to other characters for guidance. I don’t exactly know how the anime is going to pull it off because we jump settings quite a bit but I can imagine certain events will probably be rearranged and others grouped together to give us two coherent main and sub-plot lines.
If you’re in a hurry to know what happens next then you’ll definitely want to check out the manga. As episode six was the half point of the series, Tenka’s execution heralds a marked departure from the character dynamics and mood of the story because he was such a huge factor in setting up the initial (for lack of a better term), slice of life aspects of the brothers’ daily routes. Episode seven will shift the network of character relations to situate Soramaru at the centre of the story development. Anime-only viewers can definitely look forward to the upcoming twists…
What are you pondering today?