Because the names of the characters are not Japanese and are pronounced differently, the translated names in the subtitles vary episode to episode. In episode 1, the protagonists name is Chulan, whereas in episode 2 it is spelt Soran. I will continue using Chulan and other first episode names to maintain consistency.
Content wise, Episode 2 of Hitori no Shita is more about Chulans background, and the relationships between the characters introduced in the first episode.
The story did not progress far, with two major scenes and one memory occurring.
Chulan and the Zhang family are Others, or Men of Jianghu. His grandfather tells him that regular people would not understand, and they would fear and attack him if he was exposed as an Other. Chulan is being taught martial arts by his father, who we meet, but he hates it because his father is too rough. He beats Chulan every time he uses Martial Arts in front of others because they have to move each time. Chulan doesn’t understand why until his grandfather explains it to him. As Men of Jianghu, he possesses the ability to use a Kinkou, a type of aura used to attack and defend. It takes years to train and develop the Kinkou, which is why Chulan is being taught Martial Arts. In this case Chulan activates his Kinkou to battle Baobao, but in the end he loses to her.
Baobao, the knife wielding Ring-like girl from episode 1 now goes by the name Chou Houhou. Her accomplice Jo San gave her a new ID to use in order to attend the same school as Chulan. When Chulan confronts her about why she is at the school, she claims she wants to make him her servant. And the two engage in battle. She appears to have a lot of knowledge about Chulan and the Zhang family, which explains why she buried him in the first episode; she knew he would use his abilities to save himself. We do not know her real name, but nether does the opposing faction. She is referred to only as ‘the knife wielding girl’
The opposing faction is the group that commissioned the acquisition of Zhang Xilins corpse. The actual corpse snatcher accepted the job in order to join the opposing faction, but in the end is denied because they could not extract enough information from the body. This angers the necromancer-like girl. As a second attempt to join the opposing faction, she is tasked with capturing Zhang Chulan.
While we don’t find out the names of the members of the opposing faction, we find out that the prospective member is the heir to the Xiaxia Ganshi practitioners. She is warned to avoid the knife wielding woman.
The second member of the opposing faction, is a busty pink haired woman who apparently gets off on powerful men. Upon seeing Zhang Xilins body she becomes very lewd, even straddling him and making inappropriate noises.
The Jiangshi are known as ‘hopping zombies’ and are reanimated corpses. The reanimated methods can vary, from a virus infection to an unrestful spirit refusing to leave the body or with the assistance of a necromancer. In the lore they are often seen wearing official garments form the Qing Dynasty. They suck the qi from living creatures at night, while during the day they hide in dark caves.
The Jiangshi have an interesting origin story. Family’s would hire Taoist priests to teach their loved ones who died far from home to ‘hop’ back home to be buried properly. The priest would then escort the corpses back home, but only at night. Some stories claim that this was because it was bad luck to look upon a corpse, while others claim the cold night air prevented decomposition a little. Either way, in the dark an onlooker who only saw a hopping corpse would naturally assume something nefarious. A less supernatural explanation for the ‘hopping zombies’ is that the Taoist priests would line the dead upright, tying them to two bamboo poles that were carried over the shoulder by two men. The weight of the bodies caused the bamboo to bounce, making the corpses look as if they were hopping. The bodies would turn green from mold and decomposition, adding to the zombie story. The priests who would handle Jiangshi were known as Xiaxia Danshi Practitioners.
Animation wise- the details vary between weak and decent. There is not really any points where the detailing blows me out of the water. The fight scene was done well, there was no misplaced facial features this episode. There were a couple scenes with odd facial features though. Both Houhou and Chulan sported a Stg Frog expression. Houhous expressions rarely changed beyond that. Even during fight scenes she maintained a calm facial expression. This matches well with her general attitude. She is most likely as assassin, trained to behave calmly in all situations.
The music altered in whichever character was more prominent. With Ecchi nee-san on screen straddling Zhang Xilin, there was romantic jazz, or during the fight scene between Houhou and Chulan, the music was more of base sounds than actual music.
There was a couple scenes where Chulan was overly expressive. His art style would change based on his reaction. For example, when he was fired up, the pupils in his eyes disappeared and the outlines became very harsh. Other moments included when he was in disbelief, he resembled a character from Ed, Edd and Eddy, with larger eyes and spastic hand motions.
The story seems to be picking up, with the addition of antagonists and the protagonist being targeted. We have been introduced into Chulans power and due to his loss in the battle, he is now Houhous servant.
The added lore or the use of the lore is very interesting to me. I know Japanese lore is used a lot in anime, so Chinese lore is new and fresh.