9. Sasami and Tsunami

The Masaki family is delighted to accept a return invitation to the hot springs, at least, until the innkeeper explains that this won’t be a vacation for them; she only invited them over so that they could repair the damage caused by Ryoko’s monster on their last visit. Young Sasami will of course be excused from the work, and thanks to her child-like appearance, Washu manages to get off the hook as well. Unfortunately, for everyone else, there is no such leniency- the innkeeper wants them to get started right away.

Whilst Washu and Sasami take a walk in the woods, Tenchi, Nobuyuki and Katsuhito take on the less enjoyable task of fixing the roof (made even less pleasant when all three of them manage to hit their thumbs with a hammer). Meanwhile, the girls have been assigned to potato peeling duty, a job which neither Ayeka nor Ryoko can quite seem to master. Naturally, both of them are soon arguing over which one is doing the better job. Ever the mediator, Mihoshi tells them not to argue over something so trivial- but the girls only get even more annoyed when they see that Mihoshi’s bowl is filled with a huge mound of perfectly peeled potatoes.

Soon enough, however, the girls are distracted by a glimpse of a white figure in the corridor. Fearing that Ryoko is up to something, Ayeka goes to investigate- but the only thing she sees in the corridor is Sasami. The young princess seems to want to tell her older sister something, but when Ryoko cuts into the conversation, Sasami loses her nerve, and leaves.

Ryoko and Ayeka still aren’t sure just what they saw, but as it turns out, they may not be the only ones- Nobuyuki and Katsuhito also catch a glimpse of the white figure whilst mending one of the inn’s walls. Tensions start running high as everyone starts discussing this mysterious apparition, and Katsuhito decides to offer an explanation. Long ago, in the distant mountains, a husband went on a journey to find a herb that he was told could cure his terminally ill wife. Unfortunately, he never returned from the journey, and after six months the woman died. Now she lives on as the restless spirit known as the White Ghost, wandering on an endless search to find her beloved. And Tenchi had better watch out, because the White Ghost might be coming for him next.

Reality quickly intrudes into Katsuhito’s ghost story, as the innkeeper finds everyone and tells them to get back to work. Tenchi is scared to do so in case the White Ghost really does come after him, but the innkeeper tells him not to silly- the story of the White Ghost is just something Katsuhito made up.

Somewhat relieved, Tenchi is slightly more willing to get back to work, and goes down to fix the fuse box. Still a bit jumpy, he quickly becomes nervous when he hears a strange noise. Fortunately, the noise proves to be just a loose can rolling around, but even as Tenchi recovers from that, he becomes even more scared when someone lays a ghostly white hand on his shoulder.

Now terrified, Tenchi runs away as fast possible, only to end up falling into a pool of water, with another ghostly white figure standing right in front of him. Fortunately, this particular figure belongs to Ayeka- in his haste, Tenchi has stumbled into the women’s bath. And it seems like even running all this way wasn’t far enough- because the original ghost is still right behind him.

Having been searching for Tenchi, Nobuyuki ends up working on the fuse box, and when he finally fixes the lights, the truth is revealed. The ‘ghost’ is none other than Sasami, but as Mihoshi points out, something is not quite right about her. For some reason, Sasami’s reflection looks exactly Tsunami.

Before the others can ask her about it, Sasami runs away, and when neither Washu’s technology nor a quick search of the inn can find her, the gang decides to comb the woods. The group splits up in search of her, but Washu decides to arrange things so that Ayeka is the one who finds the young princess. And, whilst Sasami opens up to her older sister, the others can watch from behind the bushes (with Ryoko and Mihoshi bound and gagged to stop them from ruining the moment!).

Bursting into tears, Sasami finally manages to tell Ayeka her secret- she is not the true Sasami. As Sasami cries, the Tsunami-reflection in the water explains exactly what happened. Seven hundred years ago, whilst the demon Ryoko was attacking Jurai, little Sasami decided to explore the place where the spaceship trees were grown, deep inside the Royal Palace. Unfortunately, whilst she was inside, a ship crashed into the walls, and the resulting shock caused Sasami to slip and fall.

Her body dying, young Sasami was turned to energy, which was taken into Tsunami. A replacement Sasami was created by Tsunami, and since then, this new being has lived the life of Princess Sasami, always longing to tell her sister the truth, but unable to find the words to do so.

Having heard the story, Ayeka turns away and smiles, her mind filled with memories of her little sister. Whatever happened that day is far less important than the feelings she has for Sasami- whether or not she is the real thing. Pushed out from behind the bush by Washu, Tenchi affirms Ayeka’s words- Sasami should never doubt that the truth will stop them from loving her.

Sobbing with relief, Sasami runs into Tenchi’s arms (much to Ayeka’s annoyance), and soon falls asleep. As Ayeka and Tenchi sit with her, Tsunami appears, and adds a little more to the story. Sasami is not a construct- rather than dying in the accident, her life energy fused with that of Tsunami. But, as Tsunami realised, trying to convince Sasami to believe the truth of her existence is less important than letting the girl know that, no matter what that truth may or may not be, her sister still loves her dearly. And, once Sasami is an adult, she will finally understand everything for herself.

As Tsunami fades away, the lanterns light up the cherry blossoms, and soon Ayeka, Sasami and Tenchi are joined by the rest of the group for an evening barbecue. But even as the others enjoy themselves, Ayeka remains quiet and alone, sitting by the edge of the lake. When Ryoko comes over to find out what is wrong, Ayeka explains the problem. Since, Sasami and Tsunami are assimilated, they are now identical, so when Sasami grows up, she will look just like Tsunami does now.

Appearing once again, Tsunami is quick to reassure Ayeka that even as an adult the fused being will have a complete memory of being Sasami, but this isn’t what Ayeka (and now Ryoko as well) are worried about. If Sasami grows up to look like Tsunami, then she will end up being prettier than both of them! Could it be that they both have another potential rival waiting in the wings?

Unsurprisingly, this worry leads into another fight between Ayeka and Ryoko over which of them is more attractive. As always, Mihoshi tries to mediate, only to end up tripping over Tenchi’s legs and falling into Ryoko and Ayeka, knocking them both into the water. At first shocked, Tsunami cannot help stifling a laugh at seeing both girls now completely drenched- and even though she is fast asleep, Sasami manages a little smile as well. It looks like the young princess is finally feeling better.

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