We’re back with the second episode of In/Spectre and I must say I was really enjoying it. Right up until we got a ‘to be continued’ shot and then the credits rolled right when things were getting really juicy. It is such a cheap plot particularly when it is clear that this story will be wrapped within a few minutes of the next episode and honestly, this anime didn’t need to deploy cheap tactics to make me keep watching. I was definitely going to watch the next episode. How did you find episode 2, Irina?
First I gotta say My Hero Academia sort of knocked me out yesterday so I decided to wait until the next day to watch In/Spectre on a fresh mind. I gotta say, I don’t really mind cliffhangers, I know I’m one of the few. To me, it’s a technique that’s really unique to serialized fiction and when used right can not only build up excitement for the next instalment but make the audience rethink the episode and consider it in a different light. As long as it’s not used at the end of a season with no next one announced, I’m all for cliffhangers and I am the one fan who didn’t mind it here. I saw Twitter, I know I’m alone on this…
This episode leans very heavily on its dialogue right from the start. Kotoko meets Kuro at the hospital and they discuss a few things (like the fact that he ate the flesh of a mermaid and one yet to be revealed yokai) before Kotoko reveals her plans for the evening and invites Kuro to accompany her. He declines – he has plans to eat soup for dinner and he isn’t giving that up for a trip up the mountain to talk to a giant snake – and then we see Kotoko greeting the serpent and the two engage in a ‘friendly’ chat about the motive of the woman who dumped a corpse into the swamp. It’s very odd how this anime manages to sound so laid back and relaxed while dropping some fairly heavy subject matter and yet I think that’s part of its charm. Still, those who do not like excessive dialogue are going to find this episode a bit more challenging to get through. How’d you find it?
Fun! To me, there’s enough chemistry and interplay between Kotoko and Kuro to make these conversational expositions a lot more entertaining than you would expect. In short I like these two together and I’m happy to watch them prattle on. Considering general anime narrative structures, I think most fans are pretty o.k. with heavy dialogue in anime. It’s fairly common. At least I hope so since so many of my favourite anime have quite a bit of talking in them.
One thing I really loved is how all the scenes are so deliberately dull but the yokai, like the snake guardian, are so vivid. It kind of reminded me of the general vibe in Natsume or even The Morose Mononokean where the yokai are almost always more colourful and vibrant than things in the human world. Admittedly, this anime isn’t as visually exciting as either of those and yet it feels like there’s a lot of attention to some of the smaller details.
The yokai seem to shine. I mean the Snake guardian was positively radiant but even the lesser yokai look like they’re glowing just a little.
This episode was a lot closer to what I thought the series was going to be (i.e. a crime procedural with a supernatural twist) and as such the drab lighting fits with the genre.
The mystery of the woman dumping the body is kind of interesting and I do want to know what her motive ultimately was – but I do think it was really cheap of the episode to cut off the end of the story where it did. This definitely could have resolved this week and not felt rushed. It also sets a poor precedent for future episodes ending on a cliff-hanger just to add artificial tension and honestly with weekly viewing that gets old, fast.
I made my feelings known. It probably could have been resolved but I don’t necessarily think it needed to be resolved. And yes I realize most people disagree.
Overall though, this was a really pleasant episode to watch. I really do like Kotoko as a character and her interactions with Kuro have been interesting so far. They’ve made me want to know more about the specifics of the yokai in this story and I really want to know more about Kuro’s story and how he came to eat a mermaid and whatever else he ate. All and all, In/Spectre seems like it will be a fun but at times flawed viewing experience.
I was a bit surprised that Kotoko and Kuro just went back to their dynamic after last episode without any more conflict there. I mean Kuro looked pretty scary for a second. This said, I am enjoying their odd couple romance a lot so I’m going to overlook it. I also thought it was hilarious and inappropriate for Kotoko to just be introducing Kuro as her boyfriend when he’s not around…fun! Looking forward to next week.
Thanks for Reading From
Irina and Karandi
Let’s follow along with Kotoko and Kurou. All episode reviews of In/Spectre.
Images from: In/Spectre. Dir. Keiji Gotou. Brain’s Base. 2020.