Who knew that a rock was so important for peace and prosperity?
What They Say:
Episode 10: “The Secret of the Chingo Stone”
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
So, things are getting complicated. Kojiro is interrogating a spirit in the cemetery, the spirit that possessed Mataemon and that apparently has been resurrected as well with the goal of killing all living things. Kojiro wants to know the specific enemy that the spirit wants to destroy, but it appears that it is simply life and peace that the spirit hates. The world the Tokugawa have created in this parallel universe, where Japan is internally at peace, is hated in its eyes.
This episode is very heavy on the exposition. Muneakira, Jubei, Yukimura and Sen are in Yoshihiko’s underground bunker, where he’s finally filling them in on all of the details about the Chingo Stone and the aims of the Dark Samurai and their real master, the spirits which he calls ghosts opposed to the Tokugawa that have been behind the attacks on people at night in Buou Academy. It seems that the fight against Amakusa that ended the previous season damaged the magical barrier that protects the Chingo Stone, which itself is a special artifact that keeps the ki of all of Japan in balance, preventing war and natural disasters. The damaged barrier allowed these ghosts to resurrect the Dark Samurai, who are their agents for finding and destroying the Chingo Stone.
So, massive info-dumping dominates the first half of the episode, including revelations about Inshun (who is apparently little more than an empty vessel which the ghosts intend to use in some evil way) and Mataemon, whose body was not completely resurrected. As she was incomplete, the ghosts used mechanical enhancements to make her into a cyborg of sorts, much to Kojiro’s horror. Being less than fully flesh, Mataemon is more easily controlled by the ghosts, and so is more a puppet than warrior. To Kojiro’s further horror, Mataemon doesn’t mind at all and even likes it. So, not all the Dark Samurai are on the same page. Mataemon seems to want this world of unending war the ghosts wish to bring about; Inshun is currently being mentally attacked by the ghosts trying to control her; Kojiro is unhappy about a world at war, since today’s ally may become tomorrow’s enemy; and Musashi doesn’t care either way, so long as she gets to fight the strongest warriors out there.
Back at the dojo, the gang are busy training and dealing with one last matter: Yoshihiko has shared everything that there is to know about the legend of the Samurai Bride. Yukimura is speed-reading it all in an attempt to find the secret to it before the battle with the Dark Samurai, which is scheduled to take place the day after tomorrow. She finds the secret, and it’s bad. There are multiple conditions: the General must have seven Master Samurai (which Muneakira’s group does have); only one can be chosen to become the Bride; the other six channel all of their ki into the General, who then imbues the Samurai Bride with it. If it works, a Samurai Bride is born. If it doesn’t work, it can get really bad.
They all die.
Even if it succeeds, there may be problems. And here is an example of how success in some respects can cause problems in other ways. This episode was very successful in packing a huge amount of exposition and back story into a single installment. But that success comes at the price of making this a rather dull affair. The revelations are interesting, especially the ones concerning Kojiro, Inshun, Mataemon and the Samurai Bride, but it really does feel like one massive info dump, with the requisite feelings of boredom and the need to sit there and try to keep track of all of the information just thrown at us. This is basically the calm before the storm, a clearing of the decks before the final set pieces that will end the season. In the next installment, I suspect we will see Muneakira’s group attempt to create a Samurai Bride without killing any of themselves, though that might be nearly impossible. Then the final episode will be the fight against the Dark Samurai and the ghosts behind them.
There is one last variable in the mix as Gisen, who has been hanging around the Yagyu Dojo too much to be window dressing, has been training as well and notes to herself that she needs to regain her powers (which had faded with Amakusa’s destruction) before the barrier is repaired, obviously in order to further her master’s desires. So, there may yet be a nasty surprise awaiting Muneakira and friends.
We get an episode devoted almost entirely to exposition and setting the stage for the final battles to come. The reason why the Dark Samurai appeared in the first place is revealed, and we learn that there is more to them than we knew. The identity of the real powers behind the Dark Samurai and their agenda is also revealed. Muneakira and his group also learn the secret of the Samurai Bride, but the price to be paid for such power may be too high to pay.
Episode Grade: B
Streamed by: Crunchyroll
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