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Karasu wa Aruji o Erabanai (YATAGARASU: The Raven Does Not Choose Its Master) – 07

Trust is a huge theme in Karasu wa Aruji o Erabanai, the best show of the season and one that will be deeply embedded in the year-end reckoning posts. And not to come over all X-Files, but with very few exceptions “trust no one” seems to be the order of the day. I’m starting to get the sense that what seems like a weakness for Wakamiya – a paucity of allies compared to his brother – is actually an advantage shrewdly cultivated. He’s going for quality over quantity, that’s for sure. But he pretty much knows the people he’s relying on are loyal. Can Natsuka say the same?

Shiratama seizes the narrative by the throat and doesn’t let go here. During her blackmail visit of Hamayuu she reveals that the North – looked down upon as a region of oafish warriors – has never won the game of consorts. What was not fully clear until this week is just how desperate she – and they – are to change that. We still don’t know Hamayuu’s secret but whatever it is, it’s enough to get her to agree to Shiratama’s ultimatum (unless she’s planning a double-cross later).  That’s just the tip of the iceberg as far as Shiratama is concerned, though. She doesn’t consider Masuho-no-Susuki and the West a real threat, and that leaves her sights fixed clearly on Asebi.

Speaking of  Hamayuu, an interesting reveal at the secret meeting at the Southern Clan palace is that she’s not the lord Tooru’s real daughter – she’s adopted. It’s obvious that Wakamiya and Tooru are not allies and the unspoken missiles are thick in the air here, but Wakamiya gets to the gist of it as usual – what this means is that Tooru didn’t want his biological daughter (Nadeshiko) to wed Wakamiya. One can intuit several implications from this but all of them cast an ill light on the Southern Lord’s intentions. And Tooru is quite unsettled at Wakamiya’s uncanny ability to see through bullshit excuses.

Natsuka scolds his brother openly and not only that, effectively (and pretty much explicitly) declares that he reserves the right to rebel against him if and when Wakamiya’s behavior makes it necessary. Natsuka continues to pursue the plausible deniability line  – “I’m loyal, but my backers are so passionate in their love for me that I can’t guarantee they won’t act alone”. That’s paper-thin obviously, but I haven’t discounted the possibility that Natsuka has supporting his brother on the table as one possible course of action.

What’s not fully clear to me is why Wakamiya used Atsufusa to set up this meeting. Wakamiya rarely takes unpointed actions, so what was the advantage this gambit imparted to him? As the three men are meeting, Rokon literally bumps into Yukiya outside the southern hall, and immediately recognizes him from the ravine. But he doesn’t overtly threaten him – rather, Rokon effectively says he likes the cut of the boy’s jib and asks him to cross lines, offering the crown prince putting him in danger as a reason. Yukiya refuses, but on the grounds that his loyalty is only to his region and his family – he’s going home in a year and nothing is going to stop him.

Wakamiya overhears this – does it shake his faith in Yukiya’s loyalty? I think not – if anything Yukiya’s willingness to speak his mind reassures him that the lad is who he appears to be. It’s interesting that it’s Yukiya’s camp – Shiratama, Cha-no-Hana – who’ve been the most ill-behaved in the Cherry Blossom palace game. Yukiya hasn’t inserted himself in that mess of course – Wakamiya himself barely has, citing the danger his presence brings to the ladies involved. But the North is not acquitting itself well in the person of its representative princess.

Asebi, for her part, breaks the rules by writing home to try and find out anything she can about her mother. Samamo acts as the messenger, and Shiratama catches Asebi in the act of reading the reply (which she assumes is from Wakamiya). A scuffle ensues, in which Shiratama gets a little love tap on the cheek and then pushes Asebi into the pool at the base of the waterfall. She seems about to drown despite it being about three feet deep, but Masuho snatches her hand and pulls her above water. In the ensuing staredown Shiratama openly declares war, stating that she’s already won over the South and that if either East or West get in her way, she’ll end them and then herself.

What Asebi saw in that letter didn’t tell her much. but Masuho-no-Susuki offers more. She tells the story of the Eastern lady Ukigumo (the same name as Asebi’s koto) who came to the palace, stole the current Kin’u’s heart, but was slain by the Empress (the real “Lady Raven”). Call me paranoid, but I don’t trust Masuho’s flowery apologies and pledges of kinship with Asebi – I suspect she still has designs on winning the game (she seems to love Wakamiya romantically, as does Asebi), and sees Asebi as a major threat to her doing so.

Two final moments of significance take place. We meet Kazumi, a gardener at the royal palace who Wakamiya introduces as a friend and ally who sometimes brings him information. And poor Samomo meets her end – but at who’s hand? Shiratama and her camp seem unlikely – if they knew of her role in Asebi’s breach of protocol, they had more to gain by exposing her. So who, then – who had the most to gain by eliminating (silencing?) Samomo?

The post Karasu wa Aruji o Erabanai (YATAGARASU: The Raven Does Not Choose Its Master) – 07 appeared first on Lost in Anime.

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