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In/Spectre Season 2
Episode 22

by Steve Jones,

How would you rate episode 22 of
In/Spectre (TV 2) ?
Community score: 4.3

Haha, I knew KOTOKO was pissed. There's no way she would let this family off with a nice, simple, and ego-assuring lie, although it seems that way for most of this week's episode. With little resistance, the triumvirate of heirs settled on the predetermined solution KOTOKO had laid out, giving them an answer and allowing them a soupçon of closure. Then, when everything seems hunky dory, KOTOKO rips the rug out right beneath their feet and sends the whole hotel dynasty tumbling into her Cheshire grin. President Otonashi enlisted a monster; now, he must deal with her fangs.

Lest I spend this whole review lauding KOTOKO's wolfishness, let's cover the twenty-minute prelude to the cliffhanger first. The murder conspiracies confessed last week, KOTOKO says, were pulled out so as not to distract the participants from the matter at hand. However, airing the family's dirty laundry also created the mood necessary to arrive at the fabricated answer: guilt. They needed to be able to perceive Sumi as a victim of their own malice and her overall situation to see the threads KOTOKO laid out. In fact, this guilt naturally draws them to the desired conclusion.

I suggested last time that Goichi could have figured out his children's intentions and carried out the hit to spare their souls. KOTOKO dismisses this idea (although I'm still not ruling it out, given her tendency towards bullshitting), but her solution is similar. She takes it one step further and makes it look like Sumi herself caught onto their plans and decided to check out before everything went to hell. KOTOKO wraps this up in a tale of woe about Sumi's domineering father and turns it into a familiar (and familial!) tragedy. She makes Sumi look like a hollowed-out puppet who only transfers her messed-up upbringing onto her own children.

The truth is beside the point, as is always the case with In/Spectre. Maybe Sumi's father's influence was the weight responsible for the fracturing of the Otonashi family, or maybe Sumi was just a wealthy and megalomaniacal control freak. Either situation is believable. What matters is which idea is more attractive to KOTOKO's audience; in that regard, the former wins. It exonerates their murder plots and Sumi's controlling personality by pinning the blame on a dude who is already long dead. It suggests that death was the only way out of Sumi's double bind since she could neither oppose her father's will nor bear to see her empire and family collapse. Her children can still feel terrible about what they conspired to do, but they can rest easy knowing she managed to find peace.

Rion arrives at this “solution” first because she's the furthest removed from the actual circumstances. Hence she's the most susceptible to the blurred facts and falsehoods that KOTOKO planted in everyone's heads. In a sense, she's both the least and most biased person there. At least because only she didn't conspire to murder Sumi, and most, because all she has to work with is an abstract frame of reference that's inevitably tinged by her biases. While she's not feigning disgust at her father's and his siblings' actions, she's still inclined to find an answer that assuages her immediate family. Sumi's suicide even lets Goichi off the hook. Sure, he claims to have given her the final push to do so, but the real culprit becomes a nebulous conflation of circumstances that collectively shoved her over the precipice.

In other words, there's no accountability, and I imagine that spurred KOTOKO's hidden machinations. Goichi claims his advanced cancer is his punishment for murdering Sumi, but there's no connective tissue between those events. That's just him nursing his conscience and ego. He'll never be put on trial for what he did. His children and grandchildren still don't see him as an “actual” murderer. If anything, the suicide explanation turns Sumi's death into that much more of a blessing since it lets her escape her father's influence and sets the Otonashi empire back on the right track. And perhaps most importantly, it does nothing to address the criminal alliance between a human and a yokai, which is the fundamental reason KOTOKO got wrapped in this mess. KOTOKO might have a warped sense of justice, but it's a sense of justice all the same.

That leads us to the last-minute twist, which had me howling with delight. KOTOKO pulls a Columbo! She might not say these exact words, but for all intents and purposes, she hits a relieved wealthy murderer with “one more thing” as we all watch his face fall in real-time. That's a Columbo moment in my book. In fact, I think Columbo, both the series and the character, possess connective tissue to In/Spectre and KOTOKO. Neither shows take a traditional approach to the mystery genre. Columbo deals with inverted mysteries and the howcatchem element of the lieutenant's investigations. In/Spectre is more of a “howexplainit,” but it too tends to work backward from or laterally to the real solution. There are also a lot of uncanny similarities between KOTOKO and Columbo. Besides the requisite cunning of their profession, both characters are short, wear a false eye, and talk about their romantic partners constantly. This is to say: if you enjoy In/Spectre, give Columbo a whirl. They're both good anime.

This season pulled the focus away from KOTOKO, and we got a lot of variety in return. Nevertheless, I'm happy to see her grab the reins again and steer this arc into what I hope is a chaotic and cathartic finish. I don't know how cruel her intentions actually are. She might just be playing with her food. However, I can't say I have much sympathy for the Otonashi family, so I hope she has fun. Because that means I will too.


In/Spectre Season 2 is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Steve is on Twitter while it lasts. Please send him any good pictures of KOTOKO in funny hats that you find. Otherwise, catch him chatting about trash and treasure alike on This Week in Anime.

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