After seeing Murasaki snatched away by the Kuhouins last time around, this was never going to be the most cheerful of episodes of Kurenai, as we see Shinkurou trying to come to terms with the whole situation, while those close to him each try to sway his thoughts with their own - Should he just forget about his 'failed job' and move on, or or should he look beyond that at the person he was trying to protect to help him decide how he should proceed from here? Needless to say, despite his best efforts to detach himself from Murasaki's plight he finds himself unable to do so, eventually challenging Benika to demand that he be allowed to at least try and see her once again.
Although this episode was arguably a little heavy on the flashbacks, it otherwise proved to be another excellent example of what this series has been all about from the outset. On the one-hand (and despite its sombre tone) we had a couple of brilliantly uplifting and funny conversations, while on the other there were some really quite emotional moments that were subtly played without ever feeling overblown. To add to the ever-superb dialogue and characterisation, we learn a little more about Yayoi, and I also get a chance to gloat about reading Benika's true intentions regarding taking Murasaki away from the Kuhouins correctly - In short, it was never about allowing her to escape their grasp forever, but simply for long enough for her to experience the outside world and real love, as requested by her real mother. A very odd thing to ask for your seven year-old daughter (although I suspect her mother knew it was the one thing that would make her fight to achieve a proper life for herself), but I think I can let it go for what is otherwise a most excellent episode of an amazing anime.
My only concern at this point is that, with two episodes to go, there simply doesn't seem to be enough time to wrap things up tidily. Admittedly I'm not familiar with the light novels so I'm not entirely sure what direction the series is headed, or whether they're hedging their bets on a second series (which I certainly wouldn't object to, far from it), but right now I can't imagine so much of importance being neatly closed off in what amounts to about forty minutes of running time. Having said that, I find it equally unimaginable that they'll screw up the series after reaching episode ten with nary a mis-step, so hopefully my fears aren't justified.