This was a last minute addition to this season’s run order for me. I ended up watching all three episodes back to back. Which I’m not sure if wisest course of action, given I have much less time to digest the series as I would watching it week to week. Let’s call this an experiment then, because I have some mixed feeling about In/Spectre.
In a world where Yokai are real, and are mostly just trying to live their lives in peace away from humans, there are times where the two worlds bump up against one another. That is when the “Goddess of Wisdom” Kotoko Iwanaga intervenes to calm everything down.
Taken at the age of six, Kotoko gave up her right eye and her left leg to gain the ability to see and interact with the Yokai world. A trade she seems pretty nonchalant about. In fact she seems pretty unperturbed about pretty much everything, keeping a cool head and strong personality no matter the situation.
Even when it comes to Kuro Sakuragawa, a guy she develops a crush on after a chance meeting during her regular hospital checkups, y’know for the whole missing body parts thing. Upon learning he has a girlfriend, she just kind of stalks him for two years. Which would be super creepy, but this is anime and she is cute. So it’s okay I guess.
Upon learning that Kuro’s girlfriend dumped him, she pounces and makes her move. The whole first episode sets up the two characters and we learn that there is also more to Kuro that meets the eye. Having consumed Mermaid flesh at a young age (for some reason), he is able to instantly recover from seemingly any injury. He has another ability as well, although we don’t learn what it is, only that pretty much all Yokai are terrified by him.
Something that doesn’t seem to bother Kotoko at all, as she continues to follow him, show up at his house and refer to him as her boyfriend to the people she meets even when he’s not around. It’s weird. I do like her as a character though, she’s so self assured and direct about things, and yet she’s not aloof and emotionless like the Kuudere character type that would normally fit into this role.
The character design and setting are the parts of the show I like. Where I’m unsure is the actual plot of this series. While the first episode introduces the main two characters and the world they inhabit in an episode with a more action style conclusion, the following episode and a half take a different approach.
Kotoko is summoned to a swamp in the forest by a large serpent water spirit who is upset by the fact that a woman dumped a dead body in his lake. The spirit wants to know why, and is adamant to have a full explanation without any logical inconsistencies. Thus we spend the next episode and a half laying out the details of this murder case. One which the main characters have absolutely nothing to do with.
It’s a story about a woman whose partner seemingly commits suicide with his mistress after embezzling money from the company he works at. Only it turns out it was a murder by someone framing the boyfriend and misunderstanding of him cheating when he wasn’t. It’s very convoluted and turns into a Phoenix Wright style series of conjecture and bullshitting on Kotoko’s part to give the serpent an explanation they’re happy with.
In the end, she does just that and walks away saying that she’s not even sure if what she said was accurate, but as long as the spirit is happy that’s the main thing.
Looking back, I’m struggling to understand the purpose of this entire sequence. While the serpent was large and potentially intimidating, he’s mostly played for laughs, acting goofy and against type, as do most of the Yokai we meet. Thus there are no real stakes to satisfying his curiosity, and the murder ends up having no connection to the main characters, impacting them in no way.
The second half of the third episode takes place after a two year time skip and we follow Saki Yumihara; Kuro’s ex-girlfriend. She is now a police officer, and is still struggling with coming to terms with the paranormal, having a physical reaction to seeing Kuro’s healing powers even years later. She encounters a violent ghost that has been reported to the police and bumps into Kotoko in the process of trying to face her fear and battle it.
Verdict: It seems I’ve found a show that defies the 3 episode rule
The whole point of this blog series is that you can usually get a feeling for a show within the first three episodes. With In/Spectre, I really don’t know how to feel. The first episode and second half of the third episode are shows I’d be interested in watching, but that whole big section in the middle seemed like a total waste of time to me.
None of it really seemed to me matter. So here I am, still curious as to what the hell is going on and still interested to figure that out. They say that all good stories are mysteries. And the way each and every one of these episodes end on a cliffhanger; it’s doing a great job of wanting you to come back for more.
I think I’m going to give In/Spectre another two episodes to really reveal what it’s about to me. Because I like the characters and I like the art style and the humour. I just need to know where the hell it’s going, something the show seems to have hold at arms length.