After a reintroduction episode last week, In/Spectre Episode 14, ‘The Value of Flesh,’ takes a slightly different approach to how the plot plays out. Typically, a mystery is presented by one of the many creatures that exist in the world. Then Kotoko Iwanaga, the Goddess of Wisdom, attempts to maintain the balance between the human world and the supernatural by solving the issue with her deduction. For cases that required a bit of muscle, Iwanaga could rely on Kuro Sakuragawa, her supernaturally powered boyfriend. However, In/Spectre Episode 14 takes a step back to do a bit of world-building, with Iwanaga and Kuro having very little screen time.
In/Spectre Episode 14 opens with two hikers on a snowy mountaintop. Without warning, one of the hikers pushes the other off a ledge and leaves him for dead. Luckily for the fallen hiker. He is visited by a beautiful Yuki-onna, a snow spirit. The Yuki-onna offers to help the man despite his disbelief that a yokai would willingly help a human based on the stories he’s heard about her kind. The two discuss the stories of Koizumi Yakumo (Lafcadio Hearn), an actual Irish-Greek-Japanese writer from the late 19th century before the Yuki-onna shields him from the impending winter storm. The next morning the yokai saves the man but makes him promise not to tell another soul, or she will find and kill him.
The references to Koizumi Yakumo’s story about Yuki-onna are the basis for In/Spectre Episode 14. The episode plays out as a retelling of a man and Yuki-onna falling in love together. Eventually, the Masayuki and his savior do reconnect. While they don’t share a love story as in Yakumo’s tale, the chemistry between them is apparent. As their relationship plays out as the duo grows closer, the viewer, through the perspective of the hiker, learns more and more about the supernatural world. It is clear that humans do not fully understand the true nature of the yokai and their like. Similarly, the Yuki-onna also learns about human culture, even if it is just primarily about food.
The interactions between the Masayuki and Yuki-onna mirror the relationship between Iwanaga and Kuro. She is playfully aggressive with how she feels about the Masayuki, while he is largely indifferent to life as a whole. So while our main characters have very little screen time, seeing the retelling of Yakumo’s story through the lens of characters so similar to them grounds In/Spectre Episode 14 firmly in the franchise’s universe. It is a cute coupling that is eventually turned on its head when a murder mystery rears its head.
Iwanaga and Kuro make their appearance once the new mystery begins to unfold. As is her duty, Iwanaga hopes to get to the bottom of the issues facing the Masayuki and the Yuki-onna. Their relationship clearly indicates that humans and yokai can coexist, but their problems threaten to upset that balance. That’s where the Goddess of Wisdom comes in. We can undoubtedly expect the conclusion to this story to happen next week in episode 15.
Overall, In/Spectre Episode 14 might be one the best episodes of the series. Its take on a centuries-old tale about Yuki-onna is refreshing. It would have been easy to paint the yokai as a bringer of cold death and make that the mystery for Iwanaga and Kuro to solve. Instead, ‘The Value of Flesh’ builds upon the myths behind Yuki-onna and provides a new perspective while the series continues its world-building. It hammers home the importance of balance in the franchise. Not only between the human and supernatural worlds but also what we deal with in our lives as Masayuki deals with his struggles after his accident. Further, it provides the context for what will surely be an exciting mystery to solve next week.
In/Spectre Episode 14 is streaming now on Crunchyroll, with new episodes premiering every Sunday.
In/Spectre Episode 14
Overall, In/Spectre Episode 14 might be one the best episodes of the series. Its take on a centuries-old tale about Yuki-onna is refreshing.
I am just a guy who spends way to much time playing videos games, enjoys popcorn movies more than he should, owns too much nerdy memorabilia and has lots of opinions about all things pop culture. People often underestimate the effects a movie, an actor, or even a video game can have on someone. I wouldn’t be where I am today without pop culture.