Now onto episode two of Joran after being left on a cliffhanger. I.e. your sister trying to stab you while you sleep. Exciting stuff. Anyway, onto the rule of these episodic reviews. If you haven’t watched episodes one and two, please do. Because dishing out uncalled-for spoilers like aggressively opened bags of cola bottles will be my crime if I don’t warn you now. ‘Let’s get started.
So as it turns out, our outro in episode one is our intro from here on, and it bleeds, and it dashes, and it dismembers beautifully. ‘Preparing us for some over the top and dark visuals later down the line. Our episode then begins with the body of a man lying face down in the river (As men do because deceased women float face up). The man is the fifth victim in a string of murders. A higher-up, whose name is in the Tokyo Roster. A book, stolen by the Blue-blooded beast woman in the previous episode. Each victim, bribed by the government (Just like Nue). ‘Having parts to play in the shaping of Japan’s future (Or specifically, the future of the Tokugawa Regime). ‘And only Nue Agents would have known about the roster. Creating suspicion within the ranks – considering Sawa is from that blue-blood cloth. The assassination plot that Hanakaze found was a diversion.
Meanwhile, Sawa’s sister Asahi manages to cut up daikon without slicing her finger. Sawa appears to have healed from her injuries sustained in last weeks battle (four days ago to her), and we hear Makoto Tsukishiro and Jin Kuzuhara discussing how much of a threat Sawa is to Nue. Makoto, being the charming but cold son of a gun he is, suggests they end her. Kuzuhara, however, clearly has a history with Sawa.
Sawa reflects on the night that changed everything. Her one ‘really’ bad day. The one that separates her from the world (I’ve been reading the Batman story ‘The Killing Joke’ again). As it turns out, the book she was reading in episode one is a diary. More specifically, an empty Diary, stained with blue blood. It was her mothers. She bought it to document her days. She never used it, and with that, Sawa has few to no memories of her previous life. Just a night of death, as her village died too. When Kuzuhara offers a young Sawa a chance at revenge, she not only gets the sparkle back in her eyes, but her goal is made clear. She will be Meiji Era Lady Snowblood Batwoman. Or something like that. After her training, she joined Nue and got started by butchering some bandits trying to rob travelling merchants.
After this, the young boy who Sawa bought ‘Fight Against Fate’ from – returns with another book to pawn. Let’s see if this becomes a running gag. Afterwards, Sawa and Hanakase go to a restaurant to be served by a waitress who remembers everything. They believe she is the next target – as this woman also happens to be a Nue treasurer. Upon leaving the restaurant, they become ambushed by anti-Tokugawa terrorists. Sawa slices them down like butter. They split up, with Sawa taking the Treasurer into an underground tunnel while Hanakaze brings out her umbrella crossbow. It is in this tunnel that the Treasurer lays out the horror of this anime’s world. The Prisons are so full that new inmates receive execution. And massacres are passed off as part of the pandemic while they crackdown on English-funded insurgents. The rulers are a government who pretend there is no opposition. As it turns out, the Treasurer possibly knows more about Sawa than she knows herself. Details on documents and registers destroyed to cover tracks are locked in her memory. ‘Making her a valuable piece in Janome the Smuggler’s plan to take down Tokugawa.
Meanwhile, Makoto visits Morning Dew Used Books to give Asahi a bottle of poison. Why? Because Sawa murdered Asahi’s parents! (Dun dun duuuuuuuun!). Okay, there’s more to this than meets the eye. Asahi was about to be married off to a creepy older guy, and her parents were in Janome’s pockets, which makes them guilty by association. So Sawa murders them. But she does it with the assumption that they were childless. And now here it is. ‘Placing a child in the same position that she was in on that fateful night. ‘Making Sawa the Kuzuhara in Asahi’s story. However, as the second half of episode one’s ending reveals – Sawa can only die in a specific way. Her genes make her too Tough for a mere kitchen knife. Makoto then provides his take on Sawa. He says he loves her. But his love is the thrill and lust for a beautiful but dangerous woman who lives out a lie in two worlds, rather than somebody to share his life.
While holding a blade to her throat, we also get more info on Sawa through her dialogue with the Treasurer. Her real surname, Karasumori, is named after a small village in the northern prefecture of Aomori. Her childhood home. The place where she lost everything. ‘No records of the massacre exist. ‘Making Sawa the only witness. It was to keep the Karasumori Clan’s blue blood a secret. Janome stole their powers to create artificially. To create the Changelings – who are like Sawa, but not naturally. Sawa wants the Treasurer to help her – however, the Treasurer says no because her son would die if she does. Sawa offers to protect them both and betray Nue. The Treasurer accepts, as long as they get her son back. Then Sawa will be treated to the whole story. However –
Janome’s goons (and a Changeling) catch up to them after they exit the tunnel. Hanakaze arrives, which leads to a nice little fight scene. Followed by another Haiku after Sawa beats the Changeling: “Birds live to fly. In pursuit of flight, they harm others and are hurt themselves. But once they are in the air, there is no light”.
All seems well after this. However, this is where it gets sinister. ‘After telling Hanakaze their plan, she kills the Treasurer then informs her that her son is already dead. Making Nue several steps ahead in covering their tracks, and Sawa at a crossroad with her association with the group, and no steps forward to finding out the truth. We then get a new outro theme song while the credits roll.
It’s clear that episode one established the status quo, but here the mess really hits the fan, and I can only expect it to get more crazy. Will Sawa turn on Nue completely? Or simply everybody but Kuzuhara? Either way, it seems like everybody wants her dead, and the story has begun. ‘Looking forward to where this rabbit hole continues.