The experience of Hyouge Mono is quite unique among anime in many respects. It’s just such a resolutely weird series that one can’t watch it in a conventional way – it forces you to exercise mental muscles you probably aren’t used to exercising. It’s also unique because it’s like nothing else I’ve blogged in a practical sense. I don’t get comments on these posts (though I know some people do read them) but I’m doing this is much for myself as anything. It says something about where anime is in 2020 that I had to go back to 2011 to keep myself engaged as a viewer, but this show was almost as much an oddball then as it is now. Hyouge Mono would never be normal.
There was a strongly ominous feeling hanging over this episode. Things in the make-believe world of Hideyoshi’s tea ceremony circle are unraveling fast. He seized power based on a lie which still haunts him, and the whole myth of imperfection as some form of divine expression is showing cracks its proponents must work ever-harder to ignore. Hechikan knows his time is coming and is destroying his possessions, but he does make time to call out Rikyu for the sell-out that he is. I’m not sure if the implication is that Rikyu was the one who killed Hechikan (by torching his hut) but he certainly didn’t look surprised.
Meanwhile Sasuke is adrift after his humiliation in the great aesthete bake-off. Nothing amuses or entrances him (certainly not his wife and son), and he takes solace in the company of Ueda-san, who he drags to Kouzan-ji in Takao (an hour bus rise from Kyoto now, but a lot more difficult to reach then). He shows Ueda the Choujuu-giga, the so-called “first manga”, which the latter finds amusing but leaves Sasuke cold. He does get a good laugh out of a Nio statue in the temple – which rather infuriates one of the priests.
Rikyu and Yamanoue Souji are also adrift, and each seemingly moving further away from Hideyoshi. Yamanoue is consorting with the Houjo, who are close to going to war with the chief advisor. Rikyu visits an old friend of the family, only to discover that his impromptu display of imperfection was in fact completely staged. Rikyu is more and more deeply mired in the morass of politics (which is what Hechikan was really calling out) and I’m not sure even he believes most of the high-minded things he’s saying any longer.
Sasuke seeks his muse in sake, and appears if nothing else to at least use it as a welcome distraction. But there’s a larger goal here – he intends to use a superb peasant sake he’s acquired in bulk to repay his massive debts to Tokugawa, but there’s more going on here than that. Sasuke is growing quite friendly with the powerful warlord from Kanto. It’s just one more crack in the foundations of Hideyoshi’s power, which should be at its zenith – he’s even getting the Imperial visit which Oda Nobunaga never got. But the tighter the monkey clasps his hands together, the more the sands of power seem to slip through them.