I wasn’t particularly looking forward to the show’s promise of more plot, and this episode was more or less what I expected in that regard. The worst part was the scene with Miroku in the car with Mitsuki. Is it really necessary for this show to force its title down my throat with a bunch of terminology? Do they really need to go that far out of the way to explain the concept of a super-S class demon to an experienced audience? Though, granted, a lot of that scene was the shadowy organization’s Miroku spewing bull intentionally to throw the protagonists into confusion. There have been many, many better monologues this year alone; his was just poorly presented, opaque foreshadowing.
Still, at least it was more subtle than the imagery surrounding Akihito’s flashback sequence.
But I do continue love the extent to which Akihito’s glasses thing hasn’t been expanded upon. It’s really common, though avoidable, for shows to get caught up describing the particular fetishes of certain cast members at length and ad nauseum seemingly without realizing that their jokes are much less funny than the writers seem to think. In this case, not only is the comedy showing a bare amount of variety, but it’s not taking up way more space than it should for the level it’s at. Though the joke of the episode has to go to Ayaka for that little bit of businesswoman’s acumen.
Back to the larger point, I think the problem is less that the plot of this portion has been bad and more just that the villains lack anything compelling. They certainly aren’t likeable enough to root for, and they’re far from hateable enough to root against. I’m not saying I need them to murder a bus full of orphans, but I need them to do something more than present threats of a vaguely specified nature against one or two of the protagonists. At the very least, doing that well is a strengths of shows well outside KnK’s genre bracket. Mid-tier battles series work better when the opponents are easy to lay into, not when they’re putting the hero into a temporary coma for unspecified reasons. As it is, I’d rather the show be putting the screentime into the “spirit warriors hunting incredibly vulnerable game” subplot that the calm has brought about, or any given loose world-thread introduced previously. There’s a limit to what sort of plot you can introduce based on what type of characters you have, and Jukki Hanada seemingly wasn’t in his element there.
That said, I did like how they linked up Mirai heading to Akihito’s bedside with Miroku’s fairly obvious, though still unspecified, aggression. That’s the sort of setup for a last-minute save that good battle series thrive on. That, and this breed of likably-hatable facial expression: