Episode 10

by Lauren Orsini,

How would you rate episode 10 of
Urahara ?

You've heard about the episode three twist, but what about the episode ten twist? This late in the game, URAHARA managed to turn everything upside down. What started as a sweet backstory/redemption arc for Misa became a startling reorientation of reality. Until now the Scoopers were bumbling but mostly harmless; this week the real threat they pose manifested. While it's certainly not a positive development for our heroines, it's an injection of life into a plot that often lags behind the show's visual style, finally bringing the story into full focus.

The “Swallowing Queen” of the title is Misa herself. Attended by a Scooper who we know now as Ebifry, Misa ruled over—or rather, was pampered by—the rest of the Scooper population. When it came time to pick disguises and names for their Earth conquest, she settled on Maruno Misa, which literally means “in a single bite,” according to the subtitles. It's a fitting name for the queen of an alien race that does nothing but gobble up everything in its path. Finally Ebifry and Misa's relationship makes sense now that they've gotten some decent backstory.

But being the Scooper queen is a lot more dull than you'd think. Without an ounce of creativity between them, the Scoopers are soon bored by their own acquisitions. But it's not as if the Scoopers can't learn to be creative—otherwise, how would Rito have been able to show Misa how to make her own bead bracelet? Our trio has made a huge impact on Misa, who not only won't allow Ebifry to touch them, but “indeed” decides that she wants to be just like them. She wants to be “wonderful” and as Mari knows first hand, “that feeling isn't something you can steal.” The girls each profess to feeling their most wonderful while showing off a new creation of theirs. There's no better feeling than when a customer buys something they made. We're treated to yet another flashback, as the girls relive the pop-up shop's opening day.

But all these flashbacks are building up to one crazy twist. “It's all a fantasy, indeed!” Misa pronounces with a smile. The girls have been the only people alive in Harajuku this entire time. The city is ruined, the people are dead, and our crepe-seller Sayumin “never existed at all.” (Although she is in Misa's flashback, so hmm.) Rito, Mari, and Kotoko wanted so badly to protect Harajuku that they imagined all the people and buildings as back to normal. What a horrific reality for our heroines to confront! Like the Madoka Magica-esque discovery that fighting and eating Scoopers turns you into a Scooper, they're now faced with life as the sole survivors in the ruined city they loved so much. It must be even more surreal to get this awful news from a smiling child queen without a shred of empathy for their plight.

Once as pretty and insubstantial as cotton candy, URAHARA has slowly become more engaging as it's gradually forced its protagonists into increasingly dire situations. The sweet scrapbook-style art is even better as a contrast to a darkening plot. My one concern is: where do we go from here? When there's a twist this crazy in episode ten, is the plot going to spiral deeper and risk an abrupt non-ending, or are we already at the climax? Needless to say, I never expected URAHARA to ever wind up at this point.

Rating: B+

URAHARA is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist.

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