I’ve been looking for something more from Shinigami-kun (死神くん), and they once again hinted at the end of the previous episode that they’d give me something to look forward – an antagonist.
Antagonists grease the gears of plot – you might be able to keep things from creaking without them, but why risk it? Having the bad guy be the devil (or a devil) is usually a last resort, but I guess it’s unavoidable if the hero is an angel of death.
Anyway, the first target for the akuma (Suda Masaki) is a troubled young man who gets kicked out of a cosplay cafe in Akihabara because he was getting a bit carried away – getting inappropriate with one of the girls. The young man, Kirishima (Emoto Tokio), seeks solace at a church.
Of course, what devil can resist making a bargain for a man’s soul in a church?
And it’s what might be called the traditional bargain – devils are nothing if not traditional – which is three wishes for one soul. This is not as good a deal as the Faustian bargain, in which the devil served Faust with all his powers for a number of years – usually 24. It’s tough to make a Faustian bargain work in an hour-long drama – it’s better in anime.
Anyway, Kirishima doesn’t take much convincing to accept the bargain. Considering how little time he took, one might wonder whether he went to the church to look for the akuma.
And his first wish is that all the women he talks to will fall in love with him. Hmm . . . I don’t think he’s thought this through at all. He immediately puts it to action right outside the church . . .
. . . but he hits a sticking point when he asks them what they like about him. After all, he’s shown no sign of any redeemable qualities whatsoever, and in their infatuation they end up saying that they like him because he’s poor, can’t get a job, and his face is a mess. I think he’s discovered the flaw in his cunning plan.
As usual, he asks her to consider what she might want to do in her final days, and she answers that she’d like to go out. She’s been sick and bed-ridden for much of her life, and she correctly interprets that since she is destined to die in three days, she doesn’t have to worry about dying until then if she leaves her bed and home – it’s no longer a risk. I wonder if the writers to make full use of this logic in later episodes – a person could plot some serious revenge in their final days and be guaranteed that they won’t be killed before they’ve committed the crime. And they wouldn’t have to be concerned about punishment because they were destined to die anyway.
Shinigami-kun is caught by her logic, but I’m still surprised at the degree to which he decides to help her – knocking over statues to distract the guard at her home/estate (she’s the daughter of a company chairman).
Where does she decide to go now that she’s free and guaranteed safety? Akihabara, of course.
And there she meets the forlorn Kirishima, who helps her nab a prize . . .
. . . and then takes her to the next thing she wanted to do in her last days: karaoke.
Perhaps because he believes he can make her fall in love with him, he tries to force himself on her . . .
. . . which leads to her slapping him and bolting. Turns out that since she’s under Shinigami protection (perhaps to ensure that she doesn’t die until her appointed time), the akuma’s magic doesn’t work on her.
Outside, Hitomi is caught by her father’s security guy, and she appeals to Shinigami-kun to let her continue her days of freedom.
So, Shinigami-kun continues to go to extraordinary measures to help her – this time pepper spraying the guard. You really get to feel sorry for the guard in this episode since he’s only trying to do his job, but Shinigami-kun plays some nasty tricks on him.
Meanwhile, Hitomi disappears . . .
. . . and Shinigami-kun meets the akuma face-to-face for the first time. I was surprised that Shinigami-kun was quick on the uptake for once – figuring out that the figure in front of him was the akuma.
That didn’t stop his boss (Kiritani Mirei) from shouting at him. After all, he just let Hitomi go off in a car with the guy who signed a deal with the devil.
There were some great lines here – especially when Shinigami-kun says about the akuma “he’s got the face of someone who gets things done.”
Oh, and when he calls the akuma a nice guy. Seems like he really admires the devil.
How exactly did Kirishima get Hitomi into a car with him? They conveniently skipped over that, but while she’s not screaming, she hardly looks happy being there.
Eventually, he hears over the radio that there’s a search for her under way, and concern that she’s been kidnapped. Hitomi suggests that maybe Kirishima should kidnap her – asking for a ransom and everything – because that would upset her father and she wants to see if he really cares about her. This is a very typical sort of plot, isn’t it?
They go through with that plan and Hitomi does some dramatics over the phone to convince her father not to call the police.
The next day, Shinigami-kun reveals to Hitomi that Kirishima made a pact with the devil, and tries to mitigate their crazier tendencies . . .
. . . but instead, he ends up helping them get the ransom money. This is the third time he’s gone to great measures to help Hitomi, and once again it’s at the expense of her father’s security guy.
So here’s the big question: will the security guy still be sane by the end of this episode?
We know that money isn’t going to solve this situation, so what’s going to happen with all that ransom money?
How will Hitomi spend the rest of her time? Will she finally be reconciled to the father she doesn’t think loves her?
Will Kirishima become a better person through this experience? Will he avoid using his three wishes, or will Hitomi’s plight lead him to do it? By the way, the akuma feeds on souls – he needs at least one every hundred days to survive. So this is not a fire-and-brimstone devil, but an eater-of-souls. I can’t decide which is worse.
I think that’s more than enough things to have suspense about, right? No question that this was a quick-moving episode with so many moving parts.
The best thing, though, was that Shinigami-kun clearly experienced despair at many points, and he’s not just a happy-go-lucky character anymore now that he’s met the akuma. Having an enemy has done wonders for him.
This was a great episode. I can be satisfied watching the rest of this series if they can continue in this vein without repeating themselves. I’ll still have to work up the courage to watch each episode, though, since they all try to squeeze tears out of me.
I’ve seen the actors who played Kirishima and Hitomi before – Emoto-kun was in Beginners! and Sugisaki-san was in Kuro no Onna Kyoushi – and it was nice to see them again. They both did a wonderful job in this one.
I enjoyed the revelation at the end, where Shinigami-kun found out that even the shinigami can die, and they lose life depending on how often they violate the rules and show sympathy to humans. It was a nasty trick his boss played on him, not telling him earlier. His remaining life is already lamentably short, and his activities in this episode didn’t help matters. So, that adds another wrinkle to things, and finally satisfies my concern that there didn’t seem to be any accountability for breaking the shinigami code.