URAHARA
Episode 9

by Lauren Orsini,

How would you rate episode 9 of
Urahara ?

How did Rito, Mari, and Kotoko meet? It took nine episodes to get there, but “Bitter Candy” finally showcases their friendship's origin story. It's an example of URAHARA's misplaced priorities—this is a key component to the anime's story, but it's a tale that wasn't told for over half of the season. Enjoying this episode requires some logical leaps to understand how everyone's motives make a 180, but I certainly appreciated this overdue backstory, which went a long way toward explaining the girls' commitment to Park and one another.

Girls transforming into monsters is one of the oldest horror tropes around, but it can still be novel in a beauty-becomes-beast sort of way. Rito has given in to her friends' pleas to eat Scooper snacks, but her rapid transformation frightens them into rethinking everything. Having become more Scooper than human, Rito has confused the concepts of creation and destruction. She goes on a rampage across Harajuku, leveling buildings in her wake. In some unexplained way, Mari and Kotoko wake up from their delusions just enough to try and stop her. In order to bring Rito back to reality, they reveal the bags of candy they carry at all times. Oh, you didn't know about the candy? No, you didn't miss it—it just hadn't been brought up until now.

Rito, Mari, and Kotoko's story turns out to be one of coincidence. All three of them began working at an unnamed Harajuku shop for a mysterious owner on the same day. Mari and Kotoko immediately start praising Rito's art, and Rito says this is the first time this has happened. This makes her insecurities in previous episodes make a little more sense, but I don't blame anyone who was a little confused on this point—ever since early episodes, Harajuku citizens have been praising Rito's creative street art. So later revelations that Rito has languished in artistic obscurity for the majority of her life came as a bit of a shock.

The girls' friendship started as one of convenience, but it's easy to believe that it quickly deepened into a bond forged through mutual creative endeavors. It also cleared up what Park is exactly—I thought it was the name of the store like in real life. But in URAHARA, it's a pop-up shop that the girls are managing temporarily over their spring break. This is fiction so we didn't really need an explanation for how three high school girls could run a store by themselves, but I appreciate the additional backstory! Every moment I spent in this flashback getting to see the girls warm up to one another was adorable and full of joy. It's fantastic to see them slowly reveal their personalities and interests to one another.

These memories show Rito, Mari, and Kotoko that their fears were simply delusions and they don't need to eat Scoopers—or fight with their powers—to maintain their friendship, fans, and creativity. Now if only they'd recalled these memories a couple episodes ago. (Considering they keep this candy on them at all times, it was possible.) I really like the design and creative message of URAHARA, but if episode nine taught me anything, it was that this story is all out of order. Knowing about how the girls met early on would have endeared me to them so much sooner. It would have given them clear motives to strive toward. We leave the episode with a clear goal (give Ebifry his reckoning) but also the realization that we've been muddling through previous episodes without the aid of some long overdue backstory.

Rating: B-

URAHARA is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist.


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