After the previous episode with Shibukawa’s daughter issues, we come to an episode where Naomi is dealing with her personal demons!? Okay, this sounds actually pretty interesting. How does one of the most innocent, and pure hearted characters in the show have a dark side? Well I guess one just has to see the episode, or read the spoiler filled summary below!
S.S.P. watches a video promoting the wishing stone, which when one presents there worn shoes and wishes for true love it will be granted. Naomi thinks it to be nonsense, and decides to head out to work. She tells the team she will not be home to the office because she is attending her best friend Yoko’s bachelorette party. At the party Naomi, discovers Yoko has to quit her job at a high end hotel due her fiancé, the heir to the hotel chain, and questions what caused Yoko to quit the job. However Naomi doesn’t receive an answer because Yoko informs her that there is chocolate smeared on her lips to which the other girls laugh at her, causing her to panic to clear it off. Flustered Naomi drops her bag, which bursts open and reveals her work clothes to the party members. The guests quickly make a joke of her; embarrassed Naomi exits the room briefly. While outside Naomi overhears the others try to convince Yoko to un-invite Naomi. Upon hearing this Naomi leaves the party and winds up at the wishing stone, where she makes some envious wish that causes a malicious fog to engulf the stone.
When she returns to the office, Naomi discovers the stone is a sealing stone hold in the demon samurai, Renki… which regained its demonic powers due to the negative wish. Naomi realizes what she did and rushes to see if she truly caused Renki’s revival; discover it to be true where Juggler appears to explain even the good have a dark side to which Gai agrees with his reasoning. Feeling guilty for what she has done, Naomi tries to stop or get the wedding put on hold till the Renki is gone. However the Renki appears to attack the hotel, and Gai goes out to stop it. During the battle Renki gets close to destroying the hotel, but Naomi stands atop it to plea with the creature, explaining it became a force of good, a force of love. The plea turns out to be effective enough to convince the Renki to allow Orb to strike it down, and seal it away once more. After the battle Naomi and Yoko make up, as well as Naomi learns Yoko had to leave job because fiancé the heir to business was forced to lose his inheritance due the marriage and they were forced to start all over again, but Naomi’s words from high school has kept her going this entire time…
I am totally unsure what the morale of this episode was… Like was this something about Japanese feminism, or one feeling betrayed by a best friend and doing something spiteful accidentally? Because the overall episode felt like it was trying to be both, but the writers were not sure on how to approach the ideas, fell behind in making the story and were forced to use whatever draft was ready by the time the deadline came. Now, there could be something that was lost in translation that would cause western fans to be left confused, but I am not sure! I want to say the entire episode was more revolving around a spiteful plot, due to how Naomi overheard her high school alumni that were also attending the wedding disrespect her and attempted to get her uninvited to the wedding that led to the wish. Just as the plot continues with Naomi attempting to save her friend and the wedding it attempts to shoe horn in feminist-like ideals which contradicts the visually key reason why Naomi made the freaking wish!
Aside from Naomi’s motives for the wish, I did not hate how the episode used Renki as I found it to be an incredible thing. I enjoyed the way series went with how Renki was atoning for its sins while a part of yearned to ravage the world again, to be a creature torn by its own nature. The fact Naomi could reason with it was simply amazing, but not ridiculous since things like this have occurred before in the franchise. Then with Renki choosing to be killed off in an honorable fashion to have its soul resealed in the stone felt like things went full circle. Renki’s acceptance felt overly humane than other sacrificial deaths in franchise as of late, and mostly due the demon’s overall design as a samurai which for me, felt it drew heavily on the code of bushido. The only unfortunate thing about the Renki was that it had to wear a pair of women’s shoes, specifically Naomi’s broken high-heels.
Episode 19 easy leaves me with a loose bad taste in mouth similar to Episode 18, as neither seemed to advance the plot and come off as barely mediocre filler. The episode could have been better than 18, had the episode not felt like it was having two conflicting narratives in Naomi’s issue with her friend Yoko. Like I said earlier I believe the story was supposed to be kept to one’s dreams and feminism in Japan, but then after Naomi storms off it becomes something about jealousy which completely threw off what the introduction most likely intended! Having that apparent issue, things just took a terrible turn and put it in the same category as Episode 18. Luckily enough the next episode will most likely wrap up loose ends with Planetary Invasion Syndicate, which has seemingly gone unnoticed since the clip show…