In/Spectre Season 2
by Steve Jones,
How would you rate episode 24 of
In/Spectre (TV 2) ?
Community score: 4.5
It's funny that this whole song and dance starts because two jerks get intellectually stun locked by the sight of Kotoko enjoying a fancy meal by herself like a completely normal person. In/Spectre characters love to come up with convoluted theories to explain mysterious happenings and coincidences, so that part isn't out of the ordinary. Seeing that degree of rigor applied to a woman's solo-dining experience, however, makes for a nicely self-aware joke. Presumably, if you've made it this far, you can also appreciate the series gently poking fun at itself with digressions about bodhisattvas and eel preparation. I laughed every time they cut from their weirdly intense conversation to a shot of Kotoko simply having a good time with her unaju.
The irony, naturally, is that one coincidence begets another, and the two dudes unwittingly hit the nail on the head regarding Kotoko's profession. Jujoji takes this cue to do his best impersonation of Sherlock and accuse his friend of murder, as he carefully details all the important components of Kajio's crime, motive, and deception. I love the whiplash both in and out of this conversation. It doesn't even seem real. In/Spectre loves its convolutions, however, so it's fitting that Jujoji's accusation is both completely correct and ultimately fruitless. He—quite impressively!—susses the truth, but he backs down because he's a friend, not a detective. As always in this series, the truth matters less than its circumstances, and Jujoji's affection for his bro wins out in the end.
Kotoko, thankfully, holds no such compassion for Kajio, and she spends the second half of the episode tearing him a new one. I've frequently praised her temerity, but she's in particularly rare form here—emboldened, presumably, by Kajio's wickedness. While Kotoko has dealt with some nasty customers this season, Kajio's the only one who qualifies as an actual sociopath. In fact, he's the kind of sociopath who has convinced himself of his own virtue. He seems to find some comfort in how terrible he feels in the wake of murdering his wife Yukie, both because it proves his humanity, and because it's a problem that's easily solved. He just has to turn himself in and pay for his crimes. Easy peasy.
That attitude is why it's so delicious to watch Kotoko completely crush any hope he had of resolving his inner turmoil. Because he has no inner turmoil. He's incapable of that. Instead, his dead wife is cosplaying as the angel on his shoulder and weighing him down physically in place of his missing conscience. I love, too, that in the middle of all this, he still obsesses over what Kotoko's deal was in the restaurant. Even when he's trying to pretend to be human, he can't divorce himself from how little he truly cared about Yukie. It's fitting, then, that Yukie gets the last laugh, while Kotoko expertly dismantles his every delusion. She tears off his skin and shows him the hollow abyss that lies beneath it. This reminds us why we root for Kotoko. She's fiercely loyal to her supernatural wards, and she's committed to her own moral code. She delivers the coup de grâce that Yukie couldn't by herself, enacting justice and vengeance in one twirl of her cane.
Finally, the punchline to the whole affair is that Kotoko's unagi dinner had the most unsurprising impetus: she was just being horny. Again. I can't think of a better note to end the season on, than with her in front of a stranger, dumping her desire to be mating pressed by Kuro. The scandalized look Kajio gives her as she smiles and skips down the street is just perfect. That impish playfulness is what I come to In/Spectre for. And overall, I think the shorter arcs this season let the anime have more fun with its format. I still love the big-picture themes of the Steel Lady Nanase arc, and I still think the first season is a good introduction to these characters and their ethos. However, there's no doubt that In/Spectre became a more confident and more approachable series in season two. I won't hold my breath for a third season—I'm surprised a show as niche as this got a sequel at all—but wherever Kotoko goes, I'll be there.
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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