This review will contain spoilers to moments in the show, as well as spoil this episode. Let us begin.
We start the show by witnessing something we have not seen since the beginning – Black Crows instead of White, like Nana. Kuzuharu is burning some documents that Makoto had on her person – stained in the blue blood of Janome’s synthetic blue blood. The crows watch on. Kuzuharu then gives a pile of money to the young boy who would go to the Mountain Dew used bookstore to trade in a book from Sawa for money to support him and his mother. The money will cover that. He tells the boy do not to look back and go forward – giving him a second chance. He then kills the other witness, a Cleaner who knew too much. We then cut to the scene where the previous episode ended – Sawa entering the room before the opening credits begin.
We cut to an asylum of some sort. A young man covered in marks similar to Kuzuharu can be heard screaming as he dies from an overdose of an experimental serum given to him by a young Janome. Janome then says to his assistants to go get another subject. The subjects are young men in cages in a dark, dungeon-like place. It is clear to us that we are watching a prologue. Kuzuharu, then called Iori, tries to convince the prisoner above him to not commit suicide with a shard of glass – his efforts fail. Janome’s assistants arrive to find the boy dead – Kuzuharu, after getting his hand on the weapon – volunteers to take his place. Afterwards, we see Kuzuharu on the run after killing the assistants. His hopes are lost – upon realising that he is surrounded by a fort as the scientists catch up. An unexpected rescue happens – a Samurai-Ninja figure with a concealing hat protects Kuzuharu. The man’s right hand reveal that he is a Nue Agent, and as it turns out, Kuzuharu hates Nue. After trying to assassinate the Agent, he is given an opportunity – to join the man, or die. He chooses life.
Kuzuharu is brought by the mystery man to the Shogun, who is eating a rare steak. Kuzuharu’s credentials are then revealed – that the tests done on him have given him resistance to hundred and twenty different types of poison. Something that would come in handy if your job was to test the food of your master to check for poison. The Shogun then gives Kuzuharu a challenge: A butler comes out and drenches a stone bust with red wine. Kuzuharu has to lick up the red wine or be sent back to Janome. After licking everything up, Kuzuharu receives his new name. The Nue Agent reveals himself as Kotodama – a synonym and not his real name. Kotodama then trains Kuzuharu in the same way Kuzuharu would train Sawa in an earlier episode. Kuzuharu then starts to take on Assassination jobs as a Nue Agent.
After burning down Janome’s lab (due to unethical experiments and treason), it is revealed that Janome had escaped with some research and has his eye on the Karasumori Clan. Kuzuharu is then told to guard the Clan without being noticed. So he does and does it well. Janome’s men didn’t stand a chance. However, Kuzuharu’s cover is blown when he confronts a mother wolf protecting her cubs. A woman from the Clan tells him not to attack, and he receives a bite in his arm in the process. She treats his wound and tells him that she is aware of his presence as a government-sent helper. The woman is Towa Karasumori – Sawa’s mother. They have an agreement – He protects the village, and she treats him to some food. The arrangement goes well, as Kuzuharu defends the Clan from up high. Like a scene from the video game series Assassin’s Creed. However, some new orders from the Shogun change everything. Kuzuharu’s new mission is to assassinate the Clan, for they refuse to help the Shogun. It is also to keep their blood from falling into Janome’s hands. With tears in his eyes, Kuzuharu kills the Clan that embraced him as a protector – everyone except Sawa, who he rescues as the village burns.
Kotodama tells Kuzuharu that he needs to finish the job and is about to kill Sawa. Kuzuharu cuts Kotodama down instead – slicing his hat and revealing that Kotodama was also a Janome Lab Rat rescued by the Shogun. During this time, Janome’s men find the village and strike gold – Sawa’s brother is still alive. The episode ends in the same spot as the previous one. As Sawa asks Kuzuharu if he killed her family. The credits then roll.
Rather than adding linework to the series, this episode adds colour and shadows. It gives us what we need to know about Kuzuharu, as this is very much his story. We see similarities between him and Sawa, which creates an empathy that wouldn’t have been there from Kotodama or the Shogun towards her. Never mind Makoto and Hanakaze. It is clear that the death of Towa affects him, as he knows the kindness she possessed to accompany her great power – and he had no good options. Literally, none, if he wanted to survive. He would have guarded that Clan forever, and he would have been happy. But the Shogun took it all away due to his demand for loyalty. It’s tragic – very tragic. Anyway, we will see if Kuzuharu tells Sawa the truth in the next episode, and I will see you then.