At the start of this episode of Yorozu Uranaidokoro Onmyoya e Yokoso (よろず占い処 陰陽屋へようこそ), Shomei (Nishikido Ryo) tells Shunta (Chinen Yuri) that he’s just purchased a 20-volume set of books on magic and rituals for the amazing price of 80000 yen (around $800). Shunta considers it a reckless purchase, but it’s more of a professional investment, isn’t it? Shomei could probably write it off on his taxes.

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Besides, since we’ve already seen that this series has good writers, we know that those books are going to come in handy some time during the episode, otherwise the writers wouldn’t have brought such attention to them at the start of the show.

Hideyuki (Suruga Taro) continues talk to Shomei about family obligations, and that seems to be the one topic that can throw Shomei off. He retreats to his quarters where he muses about Shunta, who he calls Kitsune-kun (Mr. Fox, if you will).

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It takes the arrival of a customer – Kimiko – to snap Shomei into action again. He remembers reading her palm a year ago at a host club and she wants him to read it again. He agrees, pointing out that slight changes can emerge over time.

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She has a specific concern – she wonders if she can find a marriage partner in three days. A year ago, he had told her she would be able to get married before she was thirty, but now that she’s so close to that date, he says it’s difficult.

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This chance of fortune angers Kimiko, and she demands that he take responsibility for his original prognostication – by marrying her!

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Frankly, with a desperate attitude like this, it’s no wonder she has trouble getting hooked up. But is there something else going on with her? I suppose that must be the mystery here.

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He turns her down, of course, but agrees to try to find a marriage partner for her in three days. He tells her to return that night so they can talk over a drink.

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I’m not really fond of these sorts of soft mysteries, where there isn’t crime or money or events that could affect a large number of people involved. But I guess after the fun of the last episode where we got a traditional inheritance mystery there’s room for one of these as long as it’s not too many in a row (like Biblia Koshodou had).

Shomei seems rattled about the case for the first time, saying that Kimiko has dangerous eyes. Indeed, she did seem quite wild.

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Ever quick to come to a conclusion, young Shunta snaps into action on the course he thinks is best – telling everyone on the street to get their addvice. Why do I get the feeling that this is the least effective approach?

Indeed, the net result is that all the mothers go to the temple praying that their sons will get picked by Kimiko (this was amusing, classic, and a brilliant touch) . . .

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. . . and then at dinner there’s sort of a draft process/general election where they get together to pick out the most eligible bachelor and present his picture to Kimiko. I’m sure they’ll tell us that this is the traditional way to do things.

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Of course, I think you can guess Kimiko’s reaction to this method. The picture of the person they picked didn’t win any points at all, either.

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When Hideyuki walks in, Shunta suggests him as a reasonable choice, and I’d have to agree (assuming Kimiko is really intent on getting married in three days).

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But Kimiko doesn’t seem that desperate at all, rejecting Hideyuki as a ‘potato’. She seems awful picky (another trait that probably makes it hard for her to find anyone), which suggests that she has her heart set on someone already. So is she just stuck on Shomei? If so, she really has a weird way of showing it – especially since she didn’t try to approach him for a year before making this demand.

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Things get a bit more complicated when Michiko (Kurashina Kana) walks in and Hideyuki suddenly confesses his feelings for her (presumably to make it clear that he’s not open to wedding Kimiko anyway).

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Michiko’s reaction says it all:

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To get out of the situation, she says she likes Shomei. Shomei sees this as a way to deflect Kimiko, so he admits that he and Michiko are an item.

All this talk of who might get married to who has Shunta and his friends talking about marriage as well, but what they’re all really thinking about is hooking up with the most popular girl in school.

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While Shunta says everything Shomei does is fake, he can’t help looking through the 20-volume set Shomei purchased in the hope of finding a love spell (expressly forbidden at Hogwarts, of course, because it’s a natural thing for teenagers to try, and the resulting crossfire will probably leave the target of adoration completely confused).

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Shomei guesses Shunta’s intent and directs him to volume 6.

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But Shunta isn’t the only one interested in casting spells – someone placed a cursed straw doll (which also features in the 20-volume set) on a tree in the park, and the people in the park call Shomei in to deal with it.

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He notes that the straw doll was made properly according to traditional methods, so whoever did it must be serious about it.

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But who was being cursed? A slip of paper inside the doll had the target’s name written on it – Tadano Michiko.

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Shunta and Shomei take some delight in how afraid Michiko gets and challenge her to use her science to figure it out. Cue the music from Galileo, but Michko naturally realizes that there are no formulae for curses.

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And that, of course, is not true. It’s actually trivial to come up with an equation modeling the likely effects of a curse. The effectiveness is simply proportional to the number of people who think you’ve been cursed, each weighted by the time you spend with those people (with yourself set to a weighting of 1). Diminishing the curse simply consists of reducing the number of people who think you’ve been cursed – starting with yourself and preferably the person who tried to curse you (since there’s a fair chance that they could be angry enough to carry out the curse themselves).

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Michiko’s grandfather comes to same conclusion without needing to write down the equation, of course – that’s why it’s a trivial equation.

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Interestingly, they don’t immediately think that Kimiko was the perpetrator of the curse. Shunta first suggests that it might have been Hideyuki because Michiko rejected him, but Shomei points out that it’s not Hideyuki’s M.O.

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Shunta proposes Michiko next, which means that it probably isn’t Michiko. If it was Michiko, the writers would have had Shomei say it. So . . . could it be a student irritated by a grade? It should be someone we’ve already been introduced to, but who?

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In the next scene, Shomei is presumably investigating further into the Kimiko situation, but I’m not sure what he gets out of this. He approaches people and pretends that they’re old acquaintances to get information. This trick would very much not work for me, by the way – if you ever met me, you’d remember.

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But here I have to call a foul – they don’t show us what he talks to these people about. That keeps the viewer from following along and guessing the potential answer. So, I conclude that the writers were very sure that if the viewers were allowed to hear these conversations, we’d be able to figure out what’s going on with Kimiko.

They meet Kimiko for dinner and Michiko confronts her about the doll but, as expected, it doesn’t look like she knows anything about it. She also doesn’t believe that Michiko and Shomei are an item.

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She says she’ll drop her demand that Shomei marry her if he can’t find her a suitable partner in three days if Michiko and Shomei can convince her that they’re really in love.

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After a scene at Shunta’s house . . .

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. . . Shomei and Michiko go out on a date in an attempt to convince Kimiko.

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The fact that Kimiko is watching them from a distance would make this awkward even if they were really dating, but Michiko just completely fails here, slapping Shomei when he gets too close to her (at least, too close for people who aren’t in love).

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This whole thing was just a way for the writers to further the relationship between Shomei and Michiko. While Michiko is becoming a slightly more likable character, I don’t have any interest in what happens between them.

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After this, everything is spoilers, as Shomei explains to Kimiko what he’s figured out about her. Why is she so insistent about finding a marriage partner in three days while rejecting anyone except Shomei?

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The remainder of the episode was the resolution to her conundrum.

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Oh, there’s also the matter about who tried to curse Michiko – don’t forget about that side-mystery!

This was a fairly weak and slow episode, partly saved by the tension created by Kimiko’s demand that Shomei marry her. The answer to what is going on with Kimiko is underwhelming, though it makes sense. It’s so simple that the writers had to keep the clues from us or we would have quickly figured it out. It’s also easy to figure out the cursed straw doll answer before Shomei reveals it, though even there Shomei had a clue that the viewer wasn’t privy to.

Michiko somewhat supplanted Shunta’s role as Shomei’s sidekick, as she did in episode three. She’s not a particularly engaging sidekick, though, so the substitution doesn’t work very well – the date scene was just plain awkward and silly.

The character of Kimiko didn’t seem credible – especially the strange way she chose to go about things. I believe the correct word here is ‘convoluted’.

Now, granted, I have trouble with these soft mysteries, as I’ve already said, but I think this was a flat-out substandard episode for this series and the acting felt choppy and unconvincing.  Hopefully we’ll get something better next time, but my estimation of this drama has dropped a bit.