Kurozuka – 02
Apparently Kurozuka doesn’t care about maintaining chronological continuity absolutely perfectly, but it doesn’t mean you can hate on it for doing so.
So at the end of the previous episode we had Kuro dying of his injuries suffered in his attempt to protect Kuromitsu from a sneak attack team of baddies that were tipped off by the traitorous manservant monk Benkei. Instead of seeing what Kuro’s response would be to Kuromitsu’s offer of immortality via vampirism, and yeah, as if we really needed to know what his answer was (duh), we get to see some poor Tosa samurai scmuck get his butt handed to him by a rather unsavory looking swordsman (who looks pretty familiar).
Even though the guy fights with only his sword arm (too badass to use both), he apparently doesn’t have trouble taking care of business. Judging from the remarks made over whether the capital should be called Edo or Tokyo, Kurozuka‘s fast forwarded some seven centuries to the 1860s: the Bakumatsu is in full swing and the Tokugawa shogunate is on its last legs.
After he gets done pilfering the corpses for some coin, the swordsman notices a couple walking towards him across a nearby bridge. Both of them are taken aback at the massacre before them and recoil once they see the killer before them, blood still fresh on his clothes. Being true to his psycho killer mentality, the swordsman chases the couple down the bridge from whence they came. In no time he manages to take the head of the young man and then proceeds to hack up the young woman as well. Yet before he can so much as kneel down to rob the bodies blind, the swordsman is driven away by the presence of several Shinsengumi, shogunate police forces.
Our charming killer buddy’s made it out to the woods and finds himself ducking into an apparently abandoned house in the woods (lol, pretty familiar). Suddenly he jumps to a woman’s voice that suddenly calls out to him from behind; it’s Kuromitsu.
Seeing her as just a normal woman, the swordsman introduces himself as Izou Okada and then proceeds to crassly order Kuromitsu to serve him food. A historical note of importance here is that Izou Okada was a real swordsman famous for being one of the greatest assassins in this period of Japanese history. If you’ve seen other shows based around the events of the Bakumatsu you’ve probably seen other adaptations of this guy: Jin-E Udou in Rurouni Kenshin and Nizo Okada in Gintama.
Kuromitsu plays along and complies with Izou’s demands, but her nonchalant acceptance of the situation rouses the assassin’s suspicions. However since she seems to be nothing more than just a mere woman, Izou goes ahead and silently plans to just kill her and take the goods. And it’s at this point that Kuromitsu kindly asks him not to go around peeking in her bedchamber in a manner very much like how she showed to Kuro and Benkei all those centuries ago.
Yet for some reason Izou can’t focus on what Kuromitsu’s saying; it appears as if he’s been slipped a nighty-night drug in his stew. He wakes up in the middle of the night on the floor with the cooking fire doused and in near total darkness. Amazingly Izou finds his sword and proceeds to scout out Kuromitsu’s house, and as luck would have it he finds himself just outside her bed chamber.
This time Kuromitsu doesn’t have one of her boyfriends hanging from the cieling though. Instead she’s running a blade in front of a whetstone… IN FRONT OF A TALKING SEVERED HEAD.
So yeah, Kuro’s seen better days and Izou’s quite understandably freaked the hell out. To top it all off, he overhears the couple talk plan his demise in retribution for the attack on the bridge. Then, again with impeccable dramatic timing, Kuromitsu tosses Izou the stink eye through the slit in the doorway. Game over.
The episode then shifts to another location with the masked Onmyouji from last episode suddenly speaking to Izou… who is hanging from the cieling in what appears to be some kind of ornate hallway. The masked man questions Izou about his true identity and surprisingly the assassin comes to the realization that he’s actually Benkei! But before we can get more details, he’s willed by the Onmyouji to another area of the strange dimension, perhaps the eponymous Tomb of Karma, to reveal that… he’s also Kuro? Wait, what?
The Onmyouji then confronts Kuro about the nature of his relationship with Kuromitsu. Kuro shows little of the reserved stoicism that characterized his appearance in the first episode and a huge amount of pure fanboyism for his new vampiric mistress. With that, the Onmyouji asks Kuro if he knows who he truly is; naturally he answers that he’s Kuro, but the masked man objects. Kuro/Benkei reverts back to the first area of the dimension and under the Benkei persona once more, though this time thoroughly confused and quite uncomfortable. The Onmyouji begins to give him/them his/their true name, but Kuro/Benkei decides that screaming out his frustrations is a better use of his time than shutting up and actually listening to the answer. The Benkei persona arrives to the area in which the Kuro persona was being questioned, but this time is greeted by the Onmyouji and two other associates as their leader…
We then return to the far past, back in the forest where Kuro sits up against a tree dying of his wounds. He’s accepted Kuromitsu’s proposal and has his blood sucked; he aptly describes the experience as pure euphoria.
Here, Kuromitsu recounts the time when she herself was vampirized by a rather lean blonde youth on a beach. Apparently in order to complete the process of turning into a vampire in Kurozuka requires the victim to partake in the blood of the vampire who sired him/her. Freaky, but whatever.
Anyway, after whispering sweet nothings to each other under the tree (man that dusty old thing’s been seeing a ton of action), Kuro’s head starts to drum out migraines like no other. It certainly would’ve helped if Kuromitsu put in a “BTW, if you suck blood, your head will hurt. Badly. For an hour straight.” because as Kuro’s writhing in pain, because a Kamakura hit squad’s on their way to wipe the both of them out. Sadly for Kuro he gets diced by an incoming overhead slice (man, I feel bad for this guy) and Kuromitsu’s stuck to the tree right through her gut. In their defense, the guy who did the dicing and stabbing seemed pretty inhuman himself.
Creepy Onmyouji man reveals their intentions to use her as their vehicle to immortality and proceeds to show her why he always wears a scary mask.
Not too happy at seeing his sweetheart having a sword moved around in her gut by a guy whose face looks like sloppy meatloaf, Kuro gets back up with his awesome power/steam aura and blank-yet-stone-cold killer eyes. Amazed at Kuro’s revival, the troop commander confirms my suspicions that Kuro’s actually Minamoto no Yoshitsune. Unfortunately for them, Kuro’s pretty freakin’ keen on his undying RAGE powers right from the get-go.
Towering behemoth dude? Shoulder rammed to death. Another masked, ninja man? Throat crushed (lol, again). Goofy headband samurai-type? Torn in half at the waist. Nifty knife tossing fox mask guy? Head turned into a dartboard. Silly troop commander? Shat his pants; also sliced and diced.
Having Kuromitsu’s blood running in your veins is a very good thing to have if you want to be a huge badass. And it’s on that thought that the creep-faced Onmyouji decides to jump in the bodily fluid hype, literally. However, the top of his head flies clear off its lower half thanks to a well-timed stroke from Benkei’s sword. Kuro’s understandably pleasantly surprised that his subordinate’s returned in a timely fashion and is told that the delay was caused by the monk having had to take an unscheduled detour to Hiraizumi on his errands (not sure how far away that is, since we don’t know where Kuromitsu’s been living at this time).
Anyway Benkei suggests to Kuro that the two of them get the hell out of the area. Kuromitsu agrees to help spirit them out of the forest when she notices a strange marking on Benkei’s hand. Her warning is too late as Benkei’s already figured his cover’s blown and promptly lops off off Kuro’s head. As the light fades from his upside-down vision, Kuro’s left to ponder why Benkei betrayed him… and if he’ll ever see Kuromitsu ever again… (lol we know that he does, but that’s beside the point).
Anyway, Kuro mysteriously awakens in the middle of the forest (head still attached) but with no sign of either Kuromitsu or Benkei. Somehow he’s picked up a new set of threads in the time he’s been passed out, but he pays it no mind as he attempts to get his bearings at the cliffside. However, he’s shocked to see that the vast expanse of woodland’s been replaced by the ocean flooded remains of a ruined modern age city…
So this week’s episode was a giant bloodfest (surprise, surprise it’s a VAMPIRE show) and even managed to toss in some nice karmic bonds that’ll shape the relationship between Kuro, Kuromitsu, and Benkei across many more years to come. To me, Kuro’s still a giant ditz that really went on to confirm that he’s got nothing but a rocket in his pocket for Kuromitsu and nothing more (at the moment, anyway). I don’t really see why he’s going to spend the rest of his undying existence looking for the woman he’s lusting for just yet; that true love connection’s still gone unnoticed from my perspective. Kuromitsu is just as wily as ever, but it seems as if she can’t just quite make up her mind whether or not to be a frail damsel-in-distress that needs to be saved by immortality-hungry goons or a several-hundred year-old vampiress badass that can twist mere mortals into balloon animals. So far, it’s weak and tender 2, awesome blood-sucking witch 1.
Lastly there’s Benkei… he apparently doesn’t have the means to stay alive for as long as a vampire and looks to be reincarnating to keep run into Kuro and Kuromitsu. Still, if he’s going to be the main bad here, I wonder how the hell the Onmyouji and his lackeys managed to reach into the future to the mid-1800s and contact Izou/Benkei when they’ve been dead since the late 1100s… The Tomb of Karma, if that is the pocket dimension’s name, warrants further exploration since it’s really the clearest-cut case of magic at work here… but I wonder if we’ll ever see it again…