Kira helps send Touko on her way before returning to Koushi, who’s still recovering from the shocking violence of the previous night with the Fire Hunter, Roroku. Though his patron is skeptical, Koushi convinces him to support his plan to place bottled lightning traps around the Capital in preparation for the Spiders’ assault.
When Touko takes Kanata out once more to find the hound’s home, she runs into Koushi, who helps the pair avoid one of the Divine Clan’s mystic spies. Touko tells Koushi of his father’s death, and the two set off together in search of medicine for the injured Shouzou and answers to the Spiders’ immunity to flame.
As suggested by the end of episode 6, our two chief protagonists finally meet, and as Touko’s journey to return Kanata ends, the impending battle for the Capital is about to begin. It’s been a long time coming, and while being a bit understated, the meeting between Touko and Koushi is still moving and meaningful. Despite their newly-united paths being the main focus of the episode, there is more going on that highlights key themes that Hikari no Ou has been exploring since it began.
The theme that weighs heaviest on this episode is responsibility. Touko has taken on the responsibility of returning Kanata and the hunter’s effects, and takes her role seriously despite having it forced on her by her former caregivers. Koushi is now responsible for continuing his father’s work, and has become deeply invested in his research. His guardian, Youschichi, also feels responsible for Koushi and securing a future for humanity, though Kira suggests that his motivations are more selfish than he lets on.
Other characters also take on greater responsibilities. Akira has proven to be a surprisingly forthright person, protecting the children in her care and going out hunting to earn medicine for Shouzou, who was hurt under her watch. We’ve seen a few Fire Hunters at this stage, and most seem more invested in personal glory and wealth than the safety of others, so Akira’s sense of duty to those around her feels much more impactful.
Even the less focal members of our crew are part of this theme. Kun uses his affinity for insects to bond with a beetle familiar, allowing him to watch for danger and protect his newfound friends. Kaho continues to watch over Shouzou, upset that he was hurt protecting her and promising to marry him regardless of whether or not he recovers so that she can take care of him in return. It’s heartwarming to a point, but I feel like her response to the situation may be a bit overblown. Hopefully Shouzou will wake up in time to have some say in the matter.
Returning to the meeting between Touko and Koushi, it happens quite differently from how I anticipated. When the two take shelter after escaping one of the Divine Clan’s spy familiars, Koushi recognizes Kanata as his father’s hound, and Touko as the girl Kira met earlier. Touko tearfully tells Koushi of his father’s death, and tries to return his sickle and amulet, expecting him to be distraught or angry. Instead, Koushi is remarkably calm and grateful that his father died saving someone. This response is in character for the boy, but it does seem odd that he’s not strongly affected. Perhaps the urgency of their situation and his goal of countering the Clans are keeping him focused for now, but I suspect he’ll have to navigate his more complicated feelings eventually.
All-in-all, this is a fine episode where a lot happens, but the focus on our two main plotlines finally aligning keeps the spotlight. I’m enjoying the time we’re spending to flesh out and explore the rest of our characters, and getting a clearer sense of what life in the Capital is like for those less wealthy.
Between the Clans’ weird shadow spies and Kun’s insect bonding, we’re also witnessing more magical elements take the stage, which is something I’ve been looking forward to for awhile. The performances continue to be strong, and while there are still a lot of dangling threads, it looks like we’re going to be tying them up in short order.
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