This adaptation is so cool. The episode opens in an avant-garde fashion with these disorienting cuts to kaleidoscopic faces lit by firelight and soundtracked by a mysterious clanging. It isn’t until after the OP finishes that we get an explanation of this impromptu werewolf test thrust upon the town’s outsiders. Hence, our gut reaction is instead to the ritualistic tenor of the scene. While the village elder explains this to be a reasonable, even scientific test, it feels more in line with the irrational mob mentality we saw during the hunting and execution of Jutte’s mother. This effect is achieved through cinematic techniques and faith that the audience can interpret this interpolation of weird imagery, and that’s why I continue to love Undead Murder Farce.
The episode continues Aya’s investigation into the werewolf attacks, focusing on her interview with the elder and the testimony from the three previously suspected of lycanthropy. This tribalism—the obsession with the in-group versus the out-group—is the thematic core of this arc, and it especially comes through via the elder’s words. In one breath, he describes the werewolves as unknowable monstrosities, shedding their weaknesses to better kill humans. In another breath, he elucidates their weak points and his surety that they can suss out those hiding among the villagers. These contradictions make sense with this kind of jingoistic fear based on assumptions. If we ever hear the werewolves’ side, they may feel the same about humans because they, too, have chosen isolation.
Rosa and Jutte’s case highlights the irrationality of this fear. Note that, outside of some unidentified nighttime howling, Rosa gave the villagers no reason to be afraid of her. She never attacked them. She never ate them. She integrated herself and her daughter smoothly enough into village life that she nearly landed a husband. It was only by the hand of Louise, acting on her ingrained prejudice, that Rosa was outed, ousted, and killed.
By extension, the first suspects of the current wave of attacks were the three outsiders, Heinemann, Cnut, and Alma. Of the three, Aya treats Alma with the most suspicion, and this week’s final scene suggests that she’s correct, but it’s also not as simple as that. Alma’s confession and revelation are too convenient in substance and timing. She’s giving the villagers the expected explanation so they won’t question it. I trust, however, that Aya will dig into it further. Note that we don’t actually see Alma transform—it’s all shadowplay through the window. Alma might still be allied with the wolves and even be a werewolf herself, but I highly doubt she’s the golden-furred werewolf we see leave her cabin.
This notion of substitution has its roots elsewhere in this story: Rosa’s death. While Cnut confirms he identified two bodies, one larger therianthrope skeleton, and a smaller animal skeleton, this contradicts what we saw last week when Jutte was in human form inside the tower. I’d wager that Rosa managed to swap Jutte out with a regular wolf before the tower collapsed, making the village assume they had both died. Another important detail is that Jutte and Louise looked similar enough that even Rosa confused them. We can then imagine that it wouldn’t be too crazy if Jutte came back years later and, in an act of revenge, killed Louise and took her place. The incident where Louise got lost a year and a half ago would support this, and it lines up with the timeline of the current attacks. And given that Louise had already been neglected by her parents, it’s not unthinkable that they wouldn’t have noticed the swap.
That’s enough speculation for now, though. There are other sources of fun in this episode, like the quick clash with the new Royce agents, the glam and composed Kyle Chaintail, and the rootin’-tootin’ Alice Rapidshot. You certainly can’t accuse any of these guys of taking half-measures with their codenames, and I like the idea of a tertiary antagonist group who keeps sending new lackeys with silly gimmicks to replace the old and dead lackeys with silly gimmicks (Katanagatari was especially great at that). It’s fitting that Sherlock would have pointed them in Aya’s direction, although I suspect his motives have only been partly petty, as he would have no doubt surmised that Banquet would be on their tail, too. He probably figured Alice and Kyle would form a loose truce with Aya, and he knows the Cage User trio can take care of themselves.
On that note, major respect to Undead Murder Farce for showing us Aya and Tsugaru’s sloppy makeout sesh—I mean, their dignified regular medical procedure. It had been a while since the show last covered the terms of their alliance (not since the premiere, if I recall correctly), so I like this reminder’s unabashed and horny boldness. Tsugaru also notes with a playful lilt that Shizuku gets jealous every time they do this, so the disaster throuple at the heart of this series remains as strong as ever. Naturally, this interaction makes the cliffhanger sting all the more, as the slapstick of a werewolf yeeting Aya’s head turns to horror when Shizuku disappears down the waterfall. I’m sure she’s fine—they told viewers that the werewolf village is located somewhere down there, and we already know they’re not the bloodthirsty savages the villagers make them out to be. But Tsugaru’s genuine surprise, terror, and grief sell the drama of the moment, which means the next week can’t arrive quickly enough.
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