Kyosogiga has spent most of its run cycling through most of its characters’ back-stories, and how past experiences have shaped their present selves, with superb results. Despite getting an entire episode dedicated to her childhood, Koto has been comparatively shafted in terms of development, being relegated to the one common thread running through everybody else’s lives. She’s the common thread that has a dimension-smashing hammer, but by itself that isn’t exactly a descriptor brimming with personality.
Of course there’s more to Koto than being a child who likes smashing things, otherwise this would just be Black Rock Shooter with less of a macaron fetish. Emotional depths aren’t plumbed in great detail, but this is the first time that she’s ever shown remorse for her smashing. She still believes to an extent that the world revolves around her, not helped by everybody fawning over her since her appearance in the Mirror Capital, and this immaturity is emphasized in her disproportionate guilt. In essence, Koto is a wonderful representation of the conceits of childhood—self-centered, but nonetheless sympathetic. And she likes to smash stuff, so she’s a girl after my own heart.
While Koto’s personal crisis is handled well, the same effort isn’t put into tying in important, yet barely touched on plot details. The most blatant problem is the return of Shrine, the organization that apparently runs the universe. When they were first shown, with Koto punching the shit out of an employee for stealing her snack, their relevance to the plot wasn’t made all that clear. All that could be inferred is that they have something to do with Koto and Daddy Myoue, and they have enough authority in the interdimensional regulation game to afford a Fortress of Solitude as a base of operations. I understand why they didn’t meddle in the affairs of the Mirror Capital, but past that everything’s a blur.
Where they factor in to a touching story about a reunited family is left squarely up to the imagination until they rear their now villainous heads. Shrine does actually feel important by the end, thanks to their goal to obliterate the Mirror Capital, but showing up after spending half the show in radio silence makes their inclusion feel tacked on. And for all I know it is, because the dimension-destroying organization could have been literally anything else and it would have had the same impact. It could have been the shipdaughters from Kancolle, or Guillotine Gorilla, and I wouldn’t have batted an eye.
Presented with even less of an explanation is the whole dimension-hopping thing. Dimension-hopping is apparently a core element of the show, but up until now it wasn’t portrayed as such. I mean sure, Shrine regulates interdimensional affairs, but said dimensional affairs didn’t even begin to gel with the story until just after the halfway point. I don’t doubt its import, but being left to wallow as a rarely revisited subplot did it no favors. After the first few episodes, where Kurama spent his time examining Koto, nothing about her dimension-hopping has been brought to the fore to explain. Foreshadowing doesn’t have to be blatant, but using even a little would have gone a long way toward making some of this episode’s events feel less tacked on.
I’m tempted to call it a misstep, but the succeeding episodes’ focus on the siblings was charming enough to make up for a lack of plot development. There’s just enough present to infer some of the hazier details, but not enough to give some crucial moments the context that they need.
The more that I think about the course that Kyosogiga has taken, the less that I approve of what the hell it’s doing. It’s not so much the content, but the style with which it’s presented that I’m wary of. The fact that Kyosogiga can make Shrine suddenly important again and still come across as coherent is a stroke of fate, and the fact that it can contextualize a gratuitous fight scene makes it even better. It’s certainly still entertaining enough, but the series’ tendency toward knowingly obscuring important information is starting to trip it up during pivotal scenes.
It’s a shame, because the more that I look back, the more brilliant that I’m finding it. The Mirror Capital being an outlandish world in a sea of outlandish worlds isn’t there just as a gimmick. It’s carefully crafted to frame the show’s plot, just in ways that I wish would be better shown. There won’t be much more to keep hidden in the future, at least, so hopefully the series’ many strengths can shine all the brighter.
And by strengths, I mean more Yase/Lady Koto bonding.