Land of Tanabata – Episode 1 “The Telekinetic” Recap & Review

The Telekinetic

Episode 1 of Land of Tanabata begins in the seventh year of the Eiroku era (1564 CE). The leader of the Marukami clan, Masayori Marukami, faces a dire situation when his relative, Tadayori Minamimaru, is killed by the feudal lord Michiyasu Shimadera.

Minamimaru’s refusal to cut down Mount Marukami to build a castle as a stronghold against the Mogami army, enemies of Shimadera, leads to his death. Marukami, Shimadera’s vassal, also opposes the plan.

Following this betrayal, Shimadera arrives near the foothills of Mount Marukami with an army of 3,000 men while the Marukami people are celebrating the Tanabata festival. However, as Shimadera’s army advances towards Mount Marukami, the villagers summon their telekinetic powers. In an instant, they annihilate the entire army, leaving the men dead with perfectly carved holes in their bodies.

In the present day, we meet Yôji Minamimaru, a fourth-year university student and president of the New Skills Development Research Society, where he showcases his telekinetic ability to carve small holes into physical objects. He’s later informed that Professor Marukami has been trying to contact him, but since Minamimaru lost access to his email, he visits the professor’s office to inquire about the matter.

There, he meets Professor Emi, Professor Marukami’s colleague, who reveals that Professor Marukami has not returned from his visit to Marukawa town. Minamimaru learns that Marukami is a historian and folklorist. Elsewhere, we encounter Sachiko, who has woken up from a nameless nightmare.

Back at the society, Nanmaru feels discouraged by his seemingly worthless supernatural ability as he’s ridiculed by some of the society members who promptly leave for more productive clubs. He remembers his grandfather, who taught him the superpower, terming him special since not many are bestowed with such a gift.

A student visits Nanmaru and takes him to Emi, who explains that Marukami has been missing since his visit to Marukawa town to investigate his ancestry. From Minamimaru’s surname, Emi establishes that Minamimaru and Marukami share a common ancestry. Later, in their next meeting, she elaborates that Marukami had objections to the mainstream history.

According to mainstream history, Masayori Marukami betrayed the feudal lord Michiyasu Shimadera when a neighboring clan, Mogami, invaded Shimadera’s domain. Professor Marukami had objections related to this version of history and proposed that Marukami alone had defeated Shimadera, avenging his relative Tadayori’s death orchestrated by Shimadera.

“It’s possible that Masayori Marukami was never a vassal of Shimadera at all,” Marukami had suggested while talking to his team consisting of Emi and students Tagaya and Tomoko. Later, Nanmaru shows his ability to Tagaya and Tomoko, much to their delight, making Nanmaru feel momentarily special.

Elsewhere, in Marukawa town, the head of a construction company is killed with parts of his body carved out in circles. The next day on the university campus, a distraught woman threatens Emi to tell her the whereabouts of Professor Marukami. She turns out to be his wife and discloses how her husband had changed while doing his research on his hometown.

His wife had mentioned that the professor had acquired some kind of ability. Emi shows Nanmaru, Tagaya, and Tomoko a glass with a perfect circle carved out of it, much like Nanmaru’s but only bigger in size. “According to his wife, she often saw flashes like those of a camera and dry popping sounds coming from the study,” adds Emi. While they discuss this, Tagaya shows them the news about the murder case in Marukawa town. Nanmaru suggests the team visit the town to find answers to all their questions.

The episode ends with Lord Masayori Marukami from the beginning of the episode proclaiming, “I will not allow anyone to invade our sacred domain. Whether in the coming years, or decades, or one day far in the future,” as we witness his twelve-fingered hands.


The Episode Review

‘Land of Tanabata’ is surely interesting in terms of its unsettling and eerily creepy storyline, a classic creation of Hitoshi Iwaaki, the creator of the popular manga ‘Parasyte’.

On the surface, though the plot is engaging, building its intrigue through the mystery behind the town of Marukawa and the Murakami family’s legacy, the special effects and CGI feel lacking, for instance, the unrealistically sterilized murders and Lord Murakami’s twelve-fingered hand.

However, it does seem to be faithful to Iwaaki’s stylized violence, bringing out the grotesqueness of the original manga. Overall, there’s much to be unveiled in the show, so stay tuned as we meet you at the strange Marukawa town in the next episode!

 

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