Episode 18 of Shangri-la, “Double-headed Fable”, continues from the previous episode where Kuniko asks Karin for a bomber to burn Tokyo. Now living in Akiba and no longer in ATLAS, it would be in Karin’s interest to get rid of the Daedalus plants that infest Tokyo, but she refuses, citing that it would be far too expensive to purchase enough forces to do it successfully. This does not mean Karin is shooting down Kuniko’s plan: she suggests renting the forces instead. Karin’s alternative is to hire the services of a foreign military.
Before she helps, Karin requires two conditions from Kuniko. The first is the reasonable demand that she receive a very detailed plan. The second is that Kuniko give Karin her dagger. Karin claims she wants it because a dagger like that could be pretty valuable, presumably as a collectible, and she even sweetens the pot by throwing in a free bomber. The dagger being only symbolic to Kuniko, she has no problem giving it up, although others with mysterious plans may not be so happy about it.
Once the deal is made, Kuniko and Momoko are about to leave when Karin notices Momoko’s earring with surprise. Karin’s reaction piques Momoko’s curiosity, who uses some stimulation too powerful for a girl Karin’s age to extract an explanation. (Momoko, that is sexual harassment. In fact, it’s sexual harassment against a minor! Report yourself to the nearest ATLAS security post.) Having been persuaded in a way amusing for us, Karin takes Kuniko and Momoko to Mikuni and Sayoko, who except for Mikuni recognize each other.
Sayoko probably remembers about Momoko’s earring from episode 9, and Momoko showing the earring forcefully reminds her of it. She is clearly unhappy about Momoko talking directly with Mikuni about the earring, but there is not much she can do considering Karin brought her because of it. It turns out that there is no great drama behind Momoko possessing the earring, as Momoko reveals that she got it from Nagiko while rummaging Nagiko’s drawers for pretty jewelry. An embarrassed Momoko claims that Nagiko said it originally belonged to Kuniko’s mother.
This has Kuniko thinking that Mikuni might be her younger sister, although Sayoko thinks it is impossible: Kuniko is just too inelegant to be the older sister of a pampered princess like Mikuni. This is strong evidence against my theory that Mikuni is actually Sayoko’s daughter Midori, although it could still be the case that the earring is like the daggers for the Digmas: a single earring may have belonged to the separate mothers of each Digma, and Sayoko may just be denying that Kuniko is rank AAA. This may be the case if we see Kunihito’s mother Haruko having the same earring, unless Haruko is the sole mother shared by Mikuni, Kuniko, and Kunihito.
Mikuni realizes that Momoko is the Momoko that Miko used to always talk about, and she shows Kuniko and Momoko the room with Hiruko. This time there are proper seals around Hiruko, so Hiruko should not be eating anyone like was done when first being set up in the pool, although Hiruko still terrifies the daylights out of the hired guards. Upon seeing Momoko, Miko takes control, and for once Momoko is at a loss for words. Miko seems to be much less in control than before, however, even if Mikuni appears to be oblivious about it.
As Kuniko and Momoko return to Duomo in disbelief, Kuniko about having a sister and Momoko about Hiruko being Miko, they see an explosion occurring in Duomo. It turns out that Daedalus has spread to parts of the town that were overlooked. While the immediate crisis was dealt with by culling the Daedalus, this does motivate Metal Age to hurry their plans against the plants. ATLAS is having a similar problem, as the seeds dispersed in episode 14 have begun an infestation of Daedalus on the eighth layer.
Back in Akiba, Mikuni learns from Sayoko what sisters are. Of course, Sayoko still cannot believe Kuniko is Mikuni’s sister, especially since Sayoko really wants Mikuni to inherit ATLAS as soon as possible. Everything we heard about the ATLAS plan makes it clear that only one person is supposed to be the heir, but I wonder if the unexpected happens and all three candidates end up being joint heirs.
Not too far away, Karin is analyzing Kuniko’s dagger while musing about the coming burning of Tokyo, which would generate a huge amount of carbon dioxide but would not be a bad thing for Karin, since this would be an opportunity for her to make tons of money using Medusa. When the analysis finishes, Karin learns the same thing about Kuniko’s dagger as Sayoko did about Kunihito’s dagger in episode 6: it is virtually identical to Mikuni’s dagger. Like Sayoko, Karin says that they are more like the same object rather than copies, although I don’t know why she says that with only a low match rate of 99.885%.
In Duomo, Metal Age plans for the firebombing of Tokyo. Kunihito is participating in the planning sessions despite not being a member of Metal Age, which is similar to what Kuniko’s position was before she became the leader. The parallel escapes Kuniko, however. Kunihito misses it, too, which loses him a chance to needle Kuniko about having been in the same situation. The biggest issue concerning the bombing is where to evacuate the people. Unfortunately, they can’t think of any place besides ATLAS which could shelter everyone. I would have thought that anyplace outside Tokyo would have also been a good alternative, but like the previous episodes, nary a mention to outside the city is made. It’s as if the rest of the country doesn’t exist: what happened to it?
ATLAS obviously would not let anyone in, though, and it is during this quandary that Nagiko drops by as a visiting grandmother. Kuniko complains about Nagiko returning despite having been exiled, but Nagiko returned upon learning of Kuniko’s plan to burn Tokyo and wishes to lend her help. Nagiko convinces Kuniko to enlist her cooperation by formulating the relationship as business rather than trust. Kuniko needs to convince ATLAS to accommodate everyone on the ground, while Nagiko wants an audience with the current president of ATLAS, who has been rather ornery and has rebuffed the founding member’s requests to talk. The two showing up together requesting an audience with Ryouko would be something to amuse her, and Kuniko knows as well as Nagiko that this would be enough to guarantee a meeting.
After Furukawa reprograms the mimetic ore that Kuniko had stolen from Kunihito in episode 5 (Kuniko even apologizes for it), Kunihito brings it with him in the form of a Magical Gina figure into ATLAS. Unlike the entrance for construction workers, the entrance for ordinary ATLAS residents apparently lacks a MUSA TYPE63 IC-SCANNER from episode 3 as Kunihito goes through with no problems. Or maybe Kunihito’s identification ensures that the scanner would not trip him as an unauthorized intruder.
Meanwhile, Kuniko and Nagiko manage to get an audience with Ryouko. Kuniko declares her intentions to burn Tokyo to get rid of the Daedalus plants, and she tries a moral argument to convince Ryouko to shelter everyone outside during the bombing. It is no surprise that moral arguments do not work on Ryouko, so Kuniko contacts Kunihito to detonate the bomb that he smuggled in in the form of the Magical Gina figure. The bomb by itself would not be a big deal, but the heat from the explosion provokes the Daedalus plants, originally designed to fight fire, which attacks a power terminal in the central shaft of the eighth layer of ATLAS.
Kuniko’s blackmail and the way she put it in terms of a business transaction (Kuniko is pretty quick to put into practice the approach shown by Nagiko earlier in the episode) amuses Ryouko enough that she gives her approval for Kuniko’s plan. Oddly enough, despite having wanted to enter ATLAS, Nagiko has not said very much except to complain about their hosts’ poor manners. I suspect Nagiko is not interested at all with talking to Ryouko, that she wants to do (or has already done) something to ATLAS itself.