I was ecstatic when I saw that Sei Shonagon would be featured for a second week in a row. While the spotlight isn’t strictly on her, she has been doing most of the heavy lifting for the current arc of the series. Her charisma and wit fill the script with subtle but delightful moments for both the casual watcher and the poetry buff.
This episode takes an interesting angle, stepping away from waka. A few poems are exchanged but they don’t compose the crux of the storytelling. A much more natural approach is taken to both the dialogues and monologues that fits surprisingly well in the context of the series which is usually twined in flowery verse.. It’s a testament to the versatility of Shonagon’s personality as a lead character who doesn’t need lean on her poetry to display it.
I know I’m heaping praise onto the lady of the hour, but that doesn’t mean newcomer Yukinari is any slouch. I am glad the series avoided recycling any old character forms. Yukinari isn’t a particularly social person but finds himself ensnared in Shonagon’s wit. Whether intentionally or not she begins to brush away his solemn atitude to reveal a compassionate and honest individual.
While it’s sad to see his romantic advances deflected, the series takes some time to explore friendships yet again. Yukinari’s and Shonagon’s relationship reflects that of Yasuhide and Komachi. In both instances, a budding love story had been nipped due to the histories of the parties involved. It’s hard to behold, considering the rejected men are some of the most endearing characters the series has to offer.
The exclusion of a third element, like Narihira, allows Yukinari’s and Shonagon’s relationship to become more intimate than their counterparts. The series tried to portray a platonic relationship in a candid lens. It’s a breath of fresh air for a series that sometimes gets too wrapped up in it own carnal desires.
Nothing really wrong with this episode, it built two great characters.
With that being said, both of them have an incredibly short shelf life. The Mid-Heien arc, only has a few more episode left in the tank. In some ways I believe that its superior to it’s predecessor. The supporting cast is given a bit more attention and character, the history is meatier, and the comedy sequences, while a bit more infrequent, are smartly written and better executed. Every episode has been a hit in my books. It’s sad to say this series will go soon.