Thankfully (and unsurprisingly), the rumors of Shizuku’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. It’ll take more than a plummet down a sheer waterfall to do in this Japanese battlemaid. And if you can forgive the cheap cliffhanger last week, this week’s installment of Undead Murder Farce illuminates two important facets: we finally see the werewolf village, and we get to observe how Shizuku functions when separated from her beheaded paramour and half-oni punching bag.
I like side stories that focus on side characters, so forcing Shizuku into this more proactive role made for a fun departure from the usual cabal of talking heads. Her waking up nude, sandwiched between a pair of werewolf girls, also marks the second arc in a row where she’s stumbled into a sapphic situation. She’s like a magnet for paranormal lesbians. This episode emphasizes that Shizuku is our leading trio’s only “normal” human. While intelligent and able to protect herself, she has neither Aya’s centuries of wisdom nor Tsugaru’s superhuman strength. Nevertheless, she does as much as she can as a solo detective and ambassador for Aya’s services, despite the village full of people who wish her to be a patsy for their unsolved murders. She even delays her escape to brew tea for Nora and the others. I enjoyed seeing this side of her personality, which confirms she’s kind and thoughtful when she doesn’t have to put up with Tsugaru’s puns.
Throughout the runtime, the story laces our introduction to the hidden werewolf village with parallels to the human village. Like last week, the cold open is a flashback depicting a tribunal suffused with paranoia. Both village elders seem to be wielding their power for selfish ulterior motives. Both villages feature a young blonde girl who lives more or less on her own. And most relevantly, both villages are dealing with an eerily identical serial killer case. The timing of the attacks and choice of victims is the same, and both sets of evidence point to a culprit from the other village. Thematically, the sum of these similarities makes the animus between the humans and werewolves seem all the more absurd; they’re each dealing with the same problems with the same discriminatory attitude. Plot-wise, the new information gives us more clues about the culprit, although it doesn’t make the case any less complicated.
The identical modi operandi of the murders, particularly their coincidence with rain, seems to be done to remove any evidence that humans or werewolves could follow. This means the killer had to know enough about werewolves to hide any trace of their scent. Assuming there’s only one killer (a big assumption, but a partner introduces too many other variables, so I’ll ignore it for simplicity), they would also have to be able to travel freely between both villages and know where both villages are. If we assume Jutte was impersonating Louise, then it’s possible that Jutte was also (literally) moonlighting as Nora. Given that the werewolf elder banished her mother in the first place, Jutte has reason to hate both sides, so she could’ve cooked up these parallel serial murders to have the two towns succumb to their hatred and destroy each other. If so, she probably targeted young girls because they were in her same-age cohort, so it would’ve been easiest for her to gain their trust and lead them outside to their doom.
Now, Nora’s death at the end of the episode certainly throws some wrenches into the cogs of that theory since the evidence suggests someone else killed her. Maybe she did have a partner who turned on her. However, it’s all very fishy because, as with Louise’s disappearance, the M.O. doesn’t match the other murders. Again, this suggests that Louise and Nora were involved somehow, and the Jutte theory resolves some of those inconsistencies. I sympathize with Shizuku in moments like these, though. Like her, I’m a mere mortal wandering into a supernatural mystery far better suited to the seasoned wiles of a head in a cage. I have no clue what’s going on behind the scenes, but I can’t wait to find out! As with the prior cases, I continue to be impressed with the writing’s ability to craft these mysteries in ways that straddle the divide between discernable and unbelievable.
After the initial shock, Aya and Tsugaru aren’t concerned about Shizuku’s well-being, so I imagine they’re confident she’s okay. That, or they may be putting on a show knowing that Moriarity’s Banquet is watching them. Either way, they also get some fun material this week. Aya’s tone suggests she doesn’t believe Alma’s the culprit, yet she still takes advantage of that fiasco to get the information she needs from the village elder. That’s a subtle bit of inflection that Tomoyo Kurosawa executes flawlessly. The animators are no slouches either; in the final scene, they draw Aya the perfect thousand-yard stare to accompany what is undoubtedly the 500th time she has heard Tsugaru deliver that exact rakugo punchline. It’s no wonder she’s begging for death. They’re a perfect couple.
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