This episode tries to put more of a focus on character development with mixed success. There's quite a bit of light angst induced into the script as the scientist who created Nataku reflects on the nature of his creation. Even the normally lighthearted Sorata waxes poetic about what it was like to be separated from his parents. It doesn't go into wangst territory, but it can come off as over the top to some people.
We even get some more information about the death of Kamui's mother from his aunt, who conveniently shows up to give an exposition dump. It's a well done exposition dump, don't get me wrong, but a spade's a spade. I'm not sure why she had to explain what an aunt was. She literally says, "I'm your mom's sister, making me your aunt". Wouldn't "I'm your aunt on your mother's side" been a much smoother line? I don't know whether it's the translators or the script writers doing, but it was a touch clunky.
On the plus side, Kamui was actually tolerable this episode. He's still aloof, but it's more deadpan and you do get the sense that he's a bit overwhelmed by his place in all of this. I do have to question why he was skeptical about the whole shadow sacrifice thing. Considering all the magic and mysticism that's been talked about and thrown around so far, it seemed a bit arbitrary.
I was also surprised that the "two swords and two Kamuis" vision was taken as literally as it was. I figured it was just symbolic of the two potential paths he could take. Strangely enough, this concept never occurs to anyone. It's probably for the best as it is later established that a second divine sword is in the making.
This episode is a mixed bag. I do like the fact that the characters are starting to come together and there were some nice character moments. Arashi still stands as one of my favorites as she shows up to fight off some shikigami. When it appears that another hapless bystander has wandered into her dimension barrier, she immediately warns him to get away and tries to come to his aid. As it turns out, the man is one of the seven seals who briefly showed up in episode one. He's even an airbender to boot. While he only appears briefly, he gets a nice moment where he gives Arashi his umbrella. It was a small gesture, but it showed you the kind of guy he is.
The mythos is still pretty convoluted and characters just seem to walk into the narrative rather casually, but this does establish some things that will, hopefully flesh out and grow into larger plot points later on down the line.