SUBWATCHER EPISODE 8 – HIJACKS, BROADCASTS, AND FLASHBACKS

I’m glad I could release episode 7 within a month or so. The same can be said for this one too.

LAST TIME ON SUBWATCHER, SERIOUS BUSINESS FLOATED ABOUT EVERYWHERE, IN BOTH TOPICS THAT WERE ACTUALLY SERIOUS AND TOPICS THAT WEREN’T.

ON GINTAMA, AN ALIEN PRINCE FROM A FAR-OFF PLANET LOST HIS PET, AND AFTER THE EDO GOVERNMENT FAILED TO FIND IT, THEY ENLIST THE HELP OF THE YOROZUYA TO FIND IT FOR THEM. SURE ENOUGH, GINTOKI AND THE OTHERS FIND IT. TOO BAD THEY HAD TO BRING IT BACK FLAT. BUT AFTER FINDING OUT THE DANGER THE ALIEN PET WOULD CAUSE AND THE GOVERNMENT’S UNWILLINGNESS TO DO ANYTHING, GINTOKI DECIDES TO DO THINGS HIS OWN WAY AND DESTROY THE PET. IT MAY HAVE COST THE GOVERNMENT BIG SHOT WHO HIRED THEM HIS JOB, BUT AT LEAST THE DAY WAS SAVED… SOMEWHAT.

AKAHORI GEDOU HOUR RABUGE WASN’T AS SERIOUS IN ITS TOPICS, BUT THEY SURE WERE TREATED LIKE SO. IN GEDOU OTOME-TAI, KANASHI BECOMES ATTRACTED TO THE LEAD SINGER OF A FOLK BAND SHE SPOTTED PLAYING IN A NEARBY PARK. HER DEVOTION TO THEM AND RELATIONS TO THEM BECAME SO STRONG, THAT EVEN AKUMAKO’S LATEST PLAN TO MAKE THE GEDOU OTOME-TAI DO EVIL COULDN’T OVERPOWER IT. A GOOD DAY FOR KANASHI.

MEANWHILE, LOVE PHEROMONE TOOK THINGS A LOT MORE SERIOUSLY WITH ITS TOPIC. A TELEVISED WATER SPORTS COMPETITION IS DOING A “DROP” AS A PROMISE TO ITS AUDIENCE, AND THE PRODUCERS ARE WILLING TO DO ANYTHING TO MAKE KAORUKO, THE PERSON DOING THE DROP, GO THROUGH WITH IT. IN A STRANGE COMBINATION OF DEVOTION TO KAORUKO AND A CHANCE TO GET IN THE SPOTLIGHT HERSELF, AIMI PREVENTS THE DROP FROM GOING DOWN. ALSO A GOOD DAY FOR KAORUKO.

THEN ON KOTETSUSHIN JEEG, THE WIFE AND DAUGHTER OF PROFESSOR SHIBA ARRIVE AT BUILD BASE, AND LEARN THAT SHIBA’S SON HIROSHI, WHOSE BRONZE BELL THE JAMA KINGDOM IS SEARCHING FOR, IS MISSING IN ACTION. TO KEEP HOPE AFLOAT, MIWA ORGANIZES A TRIP TO TAKACHIHO’S PEAK TO SEE IF THEY CAN FIND HIROSHI THERE, BRINGING KENJI AND THE OTHERS ALONG. AFTER A CONFRONTATION WITH IKIMA AND A SPARRING MATCH WITH BALBA, THE IDEA OF THERE BEING HOPE IS SHOT DOWN… WHEN MIWA DISCOVERS THAT HIROSHI IS MOST LIKELY DEAD, AND THE REMAINS OF THE OLD JEEG ARE STILL THERE ON THE PEAK TO CONFIRM IT.

LASTLY, ON TOKYO TRIBE2, AS THE WAR BETWEEN THE SARU AND THE WU-RONZ WENT FULL SCALE, SKUNK REVEALED THAT SUNMI IS ACTUALLY THE GRANDDAUGHTER OF THE WU-RONZ’S HEAD HONCHO: ERIKA N. DARSHIA. NOT ONLY THAT, BUT JADAKINGS IS THERE TO BRING HER BACK TO HONG KONG. KAI AND MERA, HOWEVER, WON’T HAVE ANY OF IT, AND IN THE MIDST OF THE TRIBE WAR, GO UP AGAINST JADAKINGS TO SHOW HIM THAT NO MATTER HOW MUCH HE OVERPOWERS THEM, YOU JUST DON’T MESS WITH THE TRIBES. THE NEXT MORNING, KAI AND HASHIM LEARN ABOUT WHY SHOKICHO HAS BETRAYED THEM, AND EVEN THOUGH IT MAY MAKE HIM EVIL, AS LONG AS HE HAS PEOPLE WHO REALLY CARE ABOUT HIM, THERE’S NO NEED TO WORRY.

SOME SERIOUS STUFF GETS PUSHED OUT OF THE WAY, BUT MORE STUFF COMES IN TO REPLACE IT. WE’VE GOT ROMANCE, RIVALRY, AND REMINISCING GOING ON, ALL SET UP AGAINST AN INTERVIEW, A BATTLE, AND THE FATE OF ONE SHOW’S STATUS ON THE AIR…

UP NEXT ON SUBWATCHER:

EPISODE 8: HIJACKS, BROADCASTS, AND FLASHBACKS

YOUR SCREENTIME MAY BE IN DANGER…

Now that that’s out of the way, onto Gintama!

Episode 8: There is Butt a Fine Line Between Persistence and Stubbornness

The episode starts with… Gintoki sleeping on the couch. The opening narration doesn’t want anything to do with it, so they just cut to something completely different, seeing how Gintoki’s too lazy to do anything: an “Urgent Special Program” known as “Close Up! 24 Hours With The Shinsengumi Elite Police!!”. Like it says, it follows the Shinsengumi around for 24 hours, documenting what it’s like to be part of the Shinsengumi while on patrol. And what better way to start it out than with the Shinsengumi themselves raiding a karaoke house to bust some terrorists singing the continuity-innacurate “Katoken Samba”?

“And you’re singing a song that shouldn’t exist until a year from now! That’s illegal in over thirty prefectures!”

After kicking some ass and making some guys wet themselves by slicing up a TV, Hijikata heads back to meet up with the rest of the Shinsengumi, telling them exactly why their leader Kondo has snuck off and replaced himself with a cardboard cutout of his likeness. Well, it’s less “snuck off” and more “decided that he wants nothing to do with a TV expose”. He suggests that he’s doing government business (or sword-cleaning business), but as it turns out, Kondo is actually at a snack house, lamenting his lack of romance to a nearby waitress, who just so happens to be Shinpachi’s sister Otae. After asking her a question about what she’d do if her boyfriend was in a state of physical health where his butt looked like an afro with cleavage much like his own (to which Otae responds that it’d be alright with her), Kondo sees this as a chance to propose to Otae. Otae politely declines, complete with a punch to the face.

“Poor guy… I wish my girlfriend was like that.”

While talking with Shinpachi about it the next morning, Otae assumes that Kondo would give up. But Kondo hasn’t, and isn’t showing signs of ever stopping. If Otae’s eating, he proposes to her so loud the neighbors can hear from atop a telephone pole. If Otae’s shopping (and Shinpachi’s convicing her not to buy eggs, since she burns them badly), he asks her out while hiding in the pumpkins. If Otae’s walking in the park, he declares his love to her via tennis ball while wearing swimming gear.

Underwater Tennis: now in the official list of rejected Olympic sports.

On the whole of it, Kondo’s brought his obsession with Otae to the level of a part-time job, seeing how he isn’t even there to participate with the rest of the Shinsengumi in their daily sword-fighting exercises (except for Yamazaki, who does badminton, which pisses off Hijikata). Or do any other Shinsengumi-related activity in general. Hijikata, who still has no clue of it, dismisses it as Kondo doing stuff alone, and goes off with Okita to patrol Edo’s traffic. Which, seeing how violent the both of them, are results in disaster.

Meanwhile, Otae and Shinpachi meet up with the rest of the Yorozuya to talk with them about Kondo stalking Otae… but Gintoki refuses to listen, seeing how he just realized that the show started without him (and he’s angry about it).

“You heard me! Go on and play it, you bastards!”

Eventually, the producers give in to his demands and play the opening theme, which is the perfect time for Otae to relay to Gintoki her experiences so far with Kondo. Gintoki thinks Otae should be glad since someone important’s in love with her, but he just doesn’t understand it from Otae’s point of view. Apparently, his stalking power for her is so great, that he’s even used his Shinsengumi powers to edit himself into the movies in order to win her love.

“Otae, you know you want me. Just say yes and I’ll convince the projectionist to play the rest of the movie.”

Gintoki has no idea what to do about Otae’s problem (he’s more interested in Kagura chugging a big bowl of ramen so they won’t have to pay for lunch), but after Shinpachi convinces him to do it under the threat of the show’s focus shifting back to the Shinsengumi, Gintoki calls out for Kondo to show himself. Which he does. At that point, Otae comes up with a plan to get him off of her back: she claims that she’s already engaged to Gintoki, and that they’ve done several things that aren’t outright stated, but are said in a way that’s easy enough for Kondo to figure out what they are.

“You slut! You made yourself look like you’d take it slow when it came to stuff like that!”

Of course, Kondo won’t give up on Otae, no matter how skanky she seems. The only option left: to challenge Gintoki to a duel to see who gets Otae in the end. Of course, the wait before takes a while, since Gintoki had to go to the can for various reasons. And of course, by the time Gintoki gets back, a crowd has already formed on a nearby bridge, and Shinpachi and Kagura are selling concessions to the bystanders. Anyways, right before the duel starts, Gintoki decides to use wooden swords to fight instead of real swords in their duel, alongside deciding to wager his life instead of Otae’s in the duel (smart thinking). Gintoki gives his sword, Lake Toya, to Kondo while Gintoki himself uses a wooden sword from the crowd. Just when the duel is starting to look as fair as Gintoki claimed it would be, something interesting happens… You see, while Gintoki was in the can, he formed a deep cut in his sword, knowing that it would break once Kondo swung it, therefore allowing Gintoki to win fairly despite using a tactic that’s considered underhanded.

“To be honest, the fight was fair in that I didn’t use any underhanded tactics DURING the fight.”

In the end, Otae is glad that Gintoki managed to kick Kondo’s ass, therefore gaining a great deal more sympathy points. Besides, she knows that she’ll run into Kondo in the future anyways, but she’s prepared for it and will not give in to his attempts to court her.

However, unlike Otae, Shinpachi and Kagura are pissed off at Gintoki for claiming that the fight was fair despite fighting dirty himself. They beat the crap out of him and then walk off. While Shinpachi is generous enough to let Gintoki know that he’s taking a vacation from the series for a while, Kagura isn’t so nice, and pretty much bitches at Gintoki in a way that I never would’ve expected, considering her character.

And now you all know why they cast Rie Kugimiya as Kagura.

So in the end (other than the two last things coming up), Sympathy Points: Gintoki 3, Otae 2, Shinpachi 0, Kagura -1. So while I can now forgive Otae for her treatment towards Gintoki earlier on, I’m starting to show a bit of resentment for both Shinpachi and Kagura for their assholishness.

Later that night, Hijikata decides to take a break from the cameras and go for a walk along Edo, in a desperate attempt to get the smell of drunk guy puke off of his pantlegs (they ran into a drunkard earlier on), when he notices what’s left of the crowd from the duel. Just the sight of the Shinsengumi’s leader, passed out on the ground like that, angers Hijikata plenty.

After the credits and the episode preview is another episode of the post-episode short “Third Year, Class Z, Ginpachi-sensei!” The plot of this episode: Otae lost her recorder for music class, and Gintoki decides to pin the blame on someone in class (since he’s lazy). After describing which song he’ll want the culprit to play (with their other end), asking for a recorder, and once again telling everyone his cigarette is actually a lollipop, the culprit is revealed: Kondo, who let it slip that he had two recorders when telling Gintoki he could use his. The implications of what Kondo’s punishment will be sickens Shinpachi.

“This recorder is going right up your ass.”

Poor, poor Kondo. And yet what happens to him is so hilarious…

Overall, this episode was, to put it simply, one of those ones where it’s great with the exception of one part which knocks it down several pegs. Like a delicious muffin with a thumbtack baked into the center, (an analogy used by my ASMB/CSW friend Chaps to describe his feelings on Hana Saku Iroha episode 2). Anyways, while the fight was awesome, several parts were funny, and Otae’s violence against Kondo is an endless source of laughs, Kagura and Shinpachi’s sudden turn against Gintoki was rather jarring and made them a little unlikable for the time being. Welp, if you’re watching a series all the way to the end (if there even is one), you have to take your chances.

And now, Akahori Gedou Hour Rabuge.

The episode starts off with a Love Pheromone segment, this time centered around yet another contest. Only instead of a swimwear competition for the entire purpose of fanservice, this one gives leeway (sp?) for another member of the duo to show their hidden talents: an eating competition where the competitors climb a mountain and eat as much as they can until one pair is left standing, all with a prize worth 10 million yen.

“A contest whose origins date back to when there were no comedians: only samurai, villagers, and Gay Dutchmen.”

Of course, since this is a “Comedians” contest, Love Pheromone is participating amongst the other 2999 pairs of comedians. (Yes, 2999.) 2998 of these 2999 are unimportant. The only other pair that really matters is “MElancholy” , a duo consisting of Maiko Takahara (an idol turned comedian and parody of Mai Nakahara) and Dejiko from Di Gi Charat in a suit of armor, so Madhouse won’t find out Radix used their character without permission. According to Tomokazu Seki, MElancholy and Love Pheromone have been rivals ever since they first found out about one another.

Rumor has it that Aimi’s envy of Maiko’s lack of DFC is the reason behind it.

Since MElancholy is an already successful team, Maiko doesn’t really see any use for the money: she’s just participating because she just hates Love Pheromone THAT much.

The first round of the competition is eating everything on your table atop a swinging bridge within 3 minutes. Those who fail get fed to the alligators (seriously). Love Pheromone and MElancholy both manage to make it through alive with the other 112 comedians that made it, thanks to Aimi and Dejiko’s huge appetites (and their ability to prevent getting fat).

Sometimes, Kaoruko fears that Aimi will eat the both of them into bankruptcy.

The second round is a little more death-defying: taking shabu shabu (raw meat) and dipping it into the boiling hot water from a great height (and getting down there via bungee jump), and eating it all cooked. It reminded me of that episode of Samurai Champloo (near the very end) where the three were having shabu shabu at a restaurant, but Mugen and Jin were eating all the meat. I’m starting to think that Fuu wanted them to have some vegetables just so she could eat the rest of the meat behind their backs…

Anyways, both Love Pheromone and MElancholy make it through that round, and move onto the third one, which consists of being shot out of a cannon and launched toward a piece of bread on a string, having to eat it. That round is less about eating a lot and more about fanservice… at least in the case of Love Pheromone, where Kaoruko is bribed by the studio audience to wear a ridiculous-looking outfit that look like it came out of Kaleido Star’s trash bin.

Doesn’t stop it from being strangely arousing, though.

However, since AGHR isn’t considered the Fanservice Series for nothing, Kaoruko’s costume turns out to not be wind-resistant, causing her to practically lose it. Don’t worry, Love Pheromone still makes it through this round.

Following this round are several more which proceed to narrow down the groups even more, including stealing fried chicken from alligators, dodging helicopter gunfire while eating ramen, and a little competition I like to call “How Much Meat Can You Eat Before The Health Inspector Anally Rapes You?”

You don’t need to drop the soap for him to come and find you.

Since they’re the main characters (on top of Aimi’s eating disorder and Kaoruko’s determination to win), Love Pheromone makes it through each one of these rounds, making it to the final round where they’re once again faced with MElancholy. The final round is actually pretty simple, but not so easy: the two pairs have to roll down a gorge and stop at a Burger Queen (thankfully, not the one where Mera stabbed Tera), order the Super Size Burger, and eat it all without falling off and (presumably) getting crushed to death by the boulder itself. Love Pheromone appears to have the advantage, but Kaoruko happens to notice that Otone is the one working the drive-thru. But why?

Of course!

Aimi doesn’t care about the cross-series reference, but sadly, it ends up giving MElancholy the chance to blow them away and take the Super Size Burger for themselves. Aimi won’t let that shit fly, so she ends up turning the boulder around and blows MElancholy away, taking the burger, eating it, and guaranteeing Love Pheromone’s victory, as well as their crowning as Eating Kings.

At least, that’s the good part about their victory. The bad part? Turns out the 10 million yen prize is actually 10 million yen worth of rice balls. Sure, one would consider it a good prize, but Love Pheromone is smart enough to know that you can’t pawn edibles for money. As usual, they transform and blow everything up out of anger. Anger that no word in the human language can represent.

Seriously. No words. Someone should’ve sent a poet.

But hey, at least they finally manage to get some in-series screentime. Or maybe not. Seeing how all existing video footage of the event was destroyed in Love Pheromone’s rage-induced attack, and they couldn’t just redo the competition, seeing how every other comedian pair was either dead, severely injured, or with ruined reputations, not to mention that restoring the setting would cost more money than the government had at that time, the camera crew decided to instead air footage of Otone eating the 10 million yen worth of rice balls. Aimi and Kaoruko’s screams of anger were so loud that even those trapped 30 years ago in time inside the DSAZ could hear it.

The Love Pheromone episode was pretty cool. Some stuff was humorous, others a little interesting… but one thing’s for sure: rewatching it for the blog made me a bit hungry, and I just ate lunch before working on this part.

The Gedou Otome-tai episode isn’t as ridiculous in nature as the Love Pheromone episode, but it did have plenty of interesting moments, and has just as many clever comments.

The episode starts out with the Hokke sisters watching news coverage of Love Pheromone having destroyed part of Tokyo once again, and it’s only now that the city has decided to deal with this problem the way the government dealed with Kira, and how CSW founder Jubbz dealt with Rabid Inuyasha Fans on the ASMB.

“…but thanks to several anonymous sources, he’s considering renaming the task force “Special Provision Against Aimi Yoshizumi”, or SPAY.”

The fact that Love Pheromone ranks dangerously high on the list of the most evil people in Japan (yet most of it is Aimi’s fault, not that I deserve to complain about it >_>) makes the Hokkes’ wish that they were at successful at their intentions as them. But seeing how the Hokkes are instinctively nice, their wishes most likely won’t be granted. Hell, the only reason Love Pheromone’s as high on the list as they are is because Aimi has anger issues and A-Cup Angst, a deadlier combination than Gintoki cheating in a fair duel and having Shinpachi and Kagura as witnesses.

Even so, it doesn’t stop Akumako from coming up with another idea to make their wishes come to fruition (and fail to make them as evil as they want to). This week’s idea: head over to a “Broadcast Station of Evil” known as JO-AKU, get booked on the radio show “Big Bang”, and promote themselves in an attempt to have their fame boosted, much like everyone else who goes on there. And there’s no need to worry about being caught if they just waltz in.

“What’s everyone so worried about? Our names are right here on the list.”

The day the Gedou Otome-tai decide to go on Big Bang, they’re a little surprised to find that the building is of poor condition and the hallways aren’t crowded with anyone (except for Black Nyannyan from episode 3). Akumako comes to the decision that they split up into two groups so they can find Big Bang easier. The first group, consisting of Yoku, Utano, and Akumako, decide to check out one studio, which so happens to have Love Pheromone (the comedy duo, not the “allies of justice” duo, but it doesn’t matter since they’re both the same people) performing. And their shows continue to suck ass. The only one who likes it is Yoku, who tries to get their autographs, but they, as well as the audience, nearly end up getting killed by a series of sound effects.

Meanwhile, with Group 2 (Otone, Maika, and Kanashi), they try to find Big Bang in a different part of the building. There, they come across another recording station, which features two figures, a man and a woman saying “ero”  repeatedly into the microphone. Like the Caramel Town reference in episode 3, this is a very Japanese shout out that Anime Himitsu (who already talked about shabu shabu and onigiri in their TL notes) didn’t elaborate on. That man and woman are the creator of this show, Satoru Akahori, and anime voice actress Yuko Mizutani, respectively. That radio show is known as “Porikero” where Akahori and Mizutani, under the pseudonyms Poririn and Kerorin, ask a bunch of anime voice actors perverted questions (i.e., what kind of underwear are you wearing?). Of course, since the translators didn’t explain what it was, nobody knows what was up with it (as did I before I did some research). But Otone knows about it, and doesn’t want her sisters to be exposed to it for good reason.

And that’s how Otone came to view evil in a positive light for the first time.

They decide to forget about it (although Kanashi remains curious) as they venture deeper in the studio to find Big Bang, but once again get sidetracked. This time, they run into Atsuko Enomoto and Mai Kadowaki, the respective voice actresses for Otone and Maika. Kanashi’s VA isn’t there because her real big break (BlazBlue, where she voiced Noel Vermillion) didn’t exist until a couple years after AGHR finished. Of course, since Otone always had an interest in voice acting (just like I have an interest in animation/sakuga), Otone views meeting a respected seiyuu as a great honor.

“Sorry, but I only shake hands with people whenever I’m on Banzai.”

Out of every crazy thing on that short-lived TV show, Mr. Shake Hands Man is the only thing I can remember. That and it was on FOX and G4.

Anyways, after shaking their hands, and in Kadowaki’s case advising Maika to speak more often, both voice actresses go into their studio to do a recording. Outside the room, Otone and Maika start arguing over which one was cuter. Personally I’d say Kadowaki since Enomoto’s more apt to do the sexy type of character, but the argument ends when Kanashi comments that she finds neither one cuter than the other.

Back with Group A… After getting away from the aftermath they accidentally caused, Yoku and Utano end up running into Tomokazu Seki, who not only tells them where Big Bang’s studio is, but also the sad truth behind JO-AKU: it’s been losing money and popularity, and today happens to be their last day before everything gets shut down and the building gets replaced with something else, most likely funded by the WU-RONZ. Oddly enough, Otone, Maika, and Kanashi learn the same things from a producer who likes to take pictures of people.

“Neat!” *click*

And while Otone and Kanashi are a little camera-shy, Maika’s not afraid to do any kind of cute pose to appease the producing-major photography-minor. I like how this show sticks to its continuity in very subtle ways.

After learning about the studio’s fate, the Gedou Otome-tai finally make it to Big Bang’s studio. Now for a little more on Big Bang: the radio show is hosted by two famous voice actors: Toshihiko Seki and Miki Nagasawa, the former of which I recognize more than the latter. How? I can name three of Seki’s roles off the top of my head (Mitsuhiro Maniwa, Momosuke, Alexander the Great). Nagasawa… not so much (the only one I can name from memory is Mutio). Anyways, after they introduce the Gedou Otome-tai to their studio audience (or lack thereof; it’s confusing to tell with the darkness in the studio), they decide to start off by asking them about their bad deeds so far, which of course aren’t so much bad as they are failed attempts at being bad. Next they describe their precautions, which is the simple answer of “teamwork and sisterhood”. And then comes the questions about if their parents are alright with it. You probably know the answer if you’ve listened to their backstory for long enough. But after that moment of drama, Otone comments that Seki and Nagasawa are actually very good people. They claim not to be, seeing how they’re working for a Broadcast Station of Evil and all that jizz, but they admit that the good people they really are isn’t doing good for the station’s reputation.

“Well, that AND the shitty economy we’re still stuck in.”

Of course, Akumako is angered that they aren’t doing what they’re supposed to be doing, so she signals to them to spread evil like their supposed to with their last request from the hosts: SIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIING! (Sorry about that, I just had to. I blame the English Baccano! next episode previews for that.)

The song, “It’s Gedou! Everyone Gather Now!”, starts out like a J-pop song with rock instrumentals, the latter of which summons devil flowers and bats to torture the audience. But then, right in the middle, everything turns into white flowers and doves, and the song itself becomes sort of cheery and pleasant after that.

But on the upside, look at how much of the bad mood their music eliminated!

So in the end, the Gedou Otome-tai failed to commit an evil act once again, but things still turned out good for them, seeing how JO-AKU is now JO-SEIGI, a Broadcast Station of Justice, and all the shows that were on there can still run without worry of cancellation. The Hokkes are just fine with that, the positive expressions of the people they met there, and also with word of their good deeds staying in the shadows while they can watch news stories about one of their own inspirations make it on the air…

“You see my face, Poke? When I find you, it’ll be the LAST thing you ever see!”

I, on the other hand, am not fine with that.

The Gedou Otome-tai part of this episode’s AGHR wasn’t as annoying as the Love Pheromone part. You have to admit, after several minutes, the sounds of food being eaten start to get to you. I liked the continuity that was retained, and also all the pop culture shout outs.

Overall, this episode was very interesting. I can’t place either part as good or bad, but I can’t say that they weren’t average either. Maybe decent (which IMO is like a 7 or 7.5 out of 10, maybe close to an 8). If anything, this series has been improving since the beginning. The jokes are a bit funnier (but I don’t pay attention to them), the continuity and crossovers between shows are getting stronger, and the misspelled names in the subtitles are no longer misspelled. I think this is the first time they actually spelled Akumako’s name right… Anyways, this episode was pretty good, but not as good as last episode’s.

But even if this episode’s AGHR was at its best, it still wouldn’t beat the awesomeness of this episode’s Jeeg.

The episode begins with the group from last episode (Kenji, Tsubaki, Kyo, Miwa, and the Build Angels) walking around searching for the original Jeeg’s remains. Suddenly, everyone except Tsubaki disappears, which appears to frighten her. After coming across the Jeeg’s remains, she touches it, which happens to turn it into the regular Jeeg that’s seen so often in this series. Then it takes a turn for the nightmarish… the head comes off and blood starts spraying out the top, which implies that Kenji’s dead, or at least dying inside.

Apparently, loss of life force = excessive bleeding.

Thankfully, that was just Tsubaki’s dream. Well, the people-disappearing and Kenji-dying part was. The original Jeeg’s body was really there, and to show for it, it was brought back to Build Base for research. The missing head, and by extension the missing Bronze Bell, worries Shiba, seeing how they’re now in a possible worst-case scenario. He advises that they find the Bronze Bell as soon as possible, but Kenji argues that finding Hiroshi comes first. Miwa settles the argument by stating that the Bronze Bell comes first; once they find it, they can find Hiroshi.

But what of the missing head? Well, Ikima brought it back to Queen Himika’s lair, placing the Bronze Bell in her possession. Trying to get it out of the head, on the other hand, is going to take a little more effort.

Obviously it was superglued to the inside.

Kidding. Ikima postulates that Hiroshi’s still alive inside (after 30 years?), trying to resist them. The only solution: kill Hiroshi inside from the outside so the Bronze Bell can finally be forced out. Back at Build Base, Tsubaki looks over the original Jeeg’s body, trying to touch it and expect something exciting to happen just like in her dream. The first time she just shrugs it off, but the second, it actually works. She ends up seeing Himika trying to kill Hiroshi, and inadvertently ends up looking into her and preventing Himika from carrying out her attempt to kill Hiroshi. That, and Tsubaki could feel his pain.

“Wait. What’d he say again? All I could hear was ‘Blegh!’.”

Himika’s failed attempt to extract the original Jeeg’s Bronze Bell makes her angry. She feels a little better about it after Ikima tells her that they should just take the current Jeeg’s Bronze Bell instead, and gives them the power to use a Haniwa Phantom God in their attempt to bring it back.

Meanwhile, over in another part of Build Base, Kenji and Kyo are hanging out, the former trying to figure out what the heck the Bronze Bell is. According to Kyo, the Bronze Bell is an ancient power source for both the original Jeeg and the current Jeeg, the latter’s Bronze Bell stored within the Raikouba. And according to Shiba, Kenji’s parents actually installed the Bronze Bell INTO the Raikouba, and that job was apparently so big a risk to their lives, that they left Kenji to live with his grandfather, and then with Miwa and Tsubaki. Both of which are very true facts.

“And on that note, your uniform’s kind of silly, Kyo’s looking at your ass right now, and Love Pheromone actually has potential.”

The latter of the first two facts brings up a rather interesting improvement upon the answer to the first two Big Questions: Kenji’s duties as the Jeeg’s pilot, as well as protector of the Earth, aren’t just because of Jeeg’s choosing and Kenji’s knowledge on what to do when fighting, but also because his parents were part of the Jeeg plan from the start? Eitherways, this scene where Kenji finds all this out was a very nice and pleasant scene.

Having experienced what she just did, Tsubaki heads to Miwa and tells her about the Bronze Bell’s location and how she sensed Hiroshi’s pain. In the middle of their conversation on that topic, the presence of the Haniwa Phantom God Himika sent out manages to get on Build Base’s radar, alerting everyone to get into battle stations. This episode’s Haniwa Phantom God: Tobira, a giant three-legged crow from Asian Folklore that can breathe fire.

Just be glad it only exists in folklore. There’d be wildfires everywhere if they were commonplace.

Seeing how they’re the closest to it at the moment, the Build Angels decide to fight it first. Unfortunately, their guns and missiles don’t do anything, and they’re blown away by the fierce winds produced by the Tobira’s flapping wings before they can use their Circle Blasters.

Luckily, the Big Shooter arrives, which of course means that Kenji will take care of things from there with the Jeeg. However, the odds are also against him. Even with the super-fast Mach Drills, the Jeeg still isn’t able to land a single scratch on Tobira. Since the Mach Drills won’t work, Shiba insists that they use the Sky Parts instead. But that means the Jeeg has to continue fighting Tobira with what it’s got until one of the three Giga Shooters carrying the Sky Parts arrives.

Finally, a chance to see the Oppai Drills in action.

Sadly, Kenji’s still getting his ass beat by the Tobira, so the Build Angels decide to assist him, but are distracted by Ikima, Mimashi, and Amaso sending out several groups of Yomi Soldiers to deal with them for the time being. When it’s three minutes until the closest Giga Shooter arrives, Kenji ends up being grabbed by the Tobira, which persuades the Big Shooter to go after it. Sadly, the Tobira is out of their sights, and their radar’s not working. After a few more minutes (when the Giga Shooter is ready to launch), Tsubaki manages to use her latent hidden powers to hear Kenji’s voice. And just like Hiroshi inside the original Jeeg’s head, he’s in pain. And just like in Tsubaki’s nightmare at the start of the episode, the Jeeg’s head is being pulled off and Kenji is being tortured inside (with electricity) so that getting the Bronze Bell will be easier.

Anyways, Tsubaki finds Kenji’s coordinates and fires the Sky Parts to him. And that’s when things get awesome.

Cue the epic theme music! Or an insert song, I don’t really care.

The Sky Parts allow the Jeeg to transform into some sort of mecha aircraft that’s faster than the Mach Drills, and using it, Kenji manages to kick Tobira’s ass, sending it crashing into the edge of the DSAZ, and then rides it down onto the cross-shaped airship Himika’s lackeys are on, managing to take out part of it along with Tobira. All of this is done to the tune of an insert song from JAM Project.

You have to listen to it in order to understand the awesomeness.

And now, you can. Here’s a link.

With that battle over, Kenji thanks Tsubaki for more or less saving him from getting killed, which Tsubaki is implied to have accepted. Back at Build Base, Shiba and Miwa discuss how Tsubaki’s latent powers are now awakening inside of her, which I’d like to hear more about. And with Himika… her attempts to once again kill Hiroshi/extract the original Bronze Bell have failed thanks to Tsubaki’s powers saving Kenji which likely caused a backlash onto Hiroshi’s Bronze Bell. Looks like Tsubaki now has a personal enemy.

Who else is hoping for a catfight in the near future?

This episode was pretty damn awesome. It started out a little interesting, what with Tsubaki’s sudden gain in powers and all that, but then right when the Sky Parts came and the JAM Project song kicked in, things went straight to the awesome zone. The only thing I’m still confused about is exactly what Tsubaki’s powers (foresight, communication by touch, sensing Kenji by voice) amount to. Hopefully I can get some leeway on that in future episodes. Hopefully before the Great Jama Empire’s big attack on Build Base next episode.

Now for something also awesome, but more out of character building than of fight scenes: TOKYO TRIBE2.

Much like the ending of the last episode, this episode starts out on the morning after the war between the SARU/HANDS and the WU-RONZ on SARUNIGHT, which ended with the Shibuya 107 building partially destroyed. And as I said last episode, Mera and Sunmi decided to take a taxi to a love hotel. Preferrably one that no one they know knows about.

“It helps that he’s too fat to fit through the front door.”

But before they can go inside, Sunmi’s appetite ends up kicking in. So Mera decides to get her food from McDonalds, and after she finishes eating, Mera briefly checks the news (which doesn’t spend much time covering last night’s events), and confirms that she actually is the Daishisai’s granddaughter. Mera notes that if the men under him in Hong Kong knew of Sunmi’s job as a prostitute, he expects that he will be killed alongside Buppa (after all, he is the WU-RONZ’s strongest member). But he’s a little more concerned as to why she didn’t tell him. Sunmi doesn’t trust anyone, so she expected that Mera might’ve told someone as high up in the ranks, such as Buppa. But Sunmi didn’t even need to tell Mera in order for Buppa to know: after all, he was let in on this fact by one of his high staff.

“…the camera in here are linked to the Daishisai’s palace, so I’m whispering this information to you instead of just outright saying it.”

Back at the love hotel, just looking at Sunmi for a little while immediately reminds Mera of Fujio (the friend of his back before he decided to kill Kai), which ends up leading to sex. Sex with surprisingly detailed reaction faces and the holding of hands which for some reason /a/ finds sick and disgusting.

Stuff like this is just as bad as saying that Mechazawa’s a robot or the Tsukihime anime actually exists.

But enough about my encounters on 4chan. We now enter flashback mode, back when Kai and Mera will still friends. Skunk hung out with them too, for whatever reason. Kai forgot to record a TV show and decided to head back and watch it before it was too late, leaving Mera and Skunk at the arcade. Skunk tries to guilt-trip Mera into believing that Kai doesn’t care that much about him by saying that he sees TV as a more important thing, but Mera doesn’t buy it. In that case, Mera and Skunk decide to pass the time by playing each other in a fighting game akin to the ones that showed up back in Air Master (the preliminary Subwatcher series focused on streetfighting). Mera ends up losing, but not to Skunk: turns out that’s the first time either of them met Fujio.

She does look like Sunmi, only with neater hair, no makeup, and no Yuu Kobayashi for Chaps to fawn over.

(Note: Chaps, one of the bloggers for Chocolate Syrupy Waffles, loves Yuu Kobayashi. But I can’t be sure if Fujio is voiced by Yuu Kobayashi or not, since episodes for TOKYO TRIBE2 that don’t repeat episode 1’s credits every episode are virtually nonexistent in the vast sea that we call the Internet. EDIT: Turns out Fujio’s voiced by Fumie Mizusawa.)

Eventually, Mera and Skunk introduced Fujio to Kai, and the four started hanging out together. But much like everything in life, not even Fujio is perfect. You see, she used to be the girlfriend of Nagisa, the leader of the SARU back in TOKYO TRIBE2’s prequel manga Tokyo Tribe, which introduced a couple of characters who appear in this series, such as Fujio and also Iwao (the leader of the HANDS). That manga focused on the Shivuya SARU rather than the Musashino SARU that are the focus of this series. So anyways, Nagisa got killed in the midst of the huge tribe war that happened five years before the main story, and Fujio ended up heartbroken.

Later in that month, Mera brings up a part of his conversation with Fujio one night before (the conversation that revealed her past) to Kai, particularly the part where Nagisa’s death meant that she couldn’t keep their promise to visit the sea together. Interested, Mera brings Kai along with him to the sea. Why? Well, Mera wants to go there because at sunset, the sea turns red, which according to Mera is like the world was covered with blood.

It isn’t so much a sea of blood as it is a sea of LCL. Or Tang.

One night after visiting the sea, Mera and Fujio talk about the former’s friendship with Kai after some time in bed with each other (they’ve already gotten past simply being boyfriend and girlfriend at this point), which Mera is confused about, but that’s no matter. Just as long as he gets to be with Fujio.

Some time later, that’s not the case. Right then, the flashback starts to get dramatic.

It began with Mera raging at Skunk for calling Kai names, which doesn’t seem so bad, until what comes next: Mera’s parents (convience store owners) owed a huge debt to Buppa (about 1 million yen), which they couldn’t pay on time, which led to them getting killed by Buppa. Which involved death by axes that swing down, and somehow a bunch of suffering people who got turned into statues, had their limbs cut off, and were put in oversized test tubes in Buppa’s “playroom”. Apparently, from the jumpy nature of the flashback, Mera got scared into paying the money to Buppa, so he decided to use the 1 million yen Kai won in a DJ contest. It was right after that that Fujio got killed by a train. More on that later. As you know, that led to Mera vowing to kill Kai, but not only that: he also vowed to kill Buppa as well, for obvious reasons.

I also forgot to mention that Nori appeared in the flashback. Still the cutest person in this series.

Eventually, the flashback ends at the reveal that it’s Mera’s dream: an apparition of Fujio asks him if he’s so sure that he’s alone in the world, even after saying so himself.

After the flashback/dream (it was both), Mera wakes up to find out Sunmi left.

See, it really DID come from McDonalds. Not WcDonalds, NcDonalds, or Burger Queen.

Meanwhile, back in Musashino, Kai isn’t really thinking much of the aftermath of the tribe war from the previous night. All that happens is that he gets a sort-of haircut from Hashim, and then he and the others go to hang out at Penny’s as usual. But unbeknownst to him, he’s the reason Sunmi left Mera at the love hotel earlier: she went to go look for Kai. Asking an old man selling magazines on the street led her to ask some SARU, who told her that he was at Penny’s (or going there). Some members from the Inohead from episode 1 offer her a ride, but they’re scared away by Kai, putting an end to Sunmi’s search. And that scene where Kai shows up to attack them was hilarious; a deja vu to episode 1.

I just started to crack up at this point.

After the group arrives at Penny’s, Hashim and Shokicho both go in (where the former has the latter drink a mixture of coffee and melon drink, and the latter tricking the former into thinking it actually tasted any good), whereas Kai decides to go off and talk with Sunmi at a nearby park. After sort of finding out why Sunmi wanted to speak with him and pointing out how much Mera has changed ever since he started visiting Bukuro, Sunmi assumes that Kai wants to be friends with Mera again (a reasonable choice of action), but then comments on Fujio’s past, and how her death was suicide by train. Kai disagrees, saying that her death didn’t go down that way. Instead, it went down like this:

The day of the DJ contest, Kai won, and got the one million yen Mera needed to pay Buppa back (maybe). Only Kai, Fujio, and Skunk (who was Mera’s right arm, according to Kai) were there. They were on the subway, about to head back to Mera, but a crowd of people just came out from behind them and pushed Kai and Fujio forward into the crowd. While Kai managed to prevent himself from going beyond the yellow line, Fujio wasn’t so lucky: the crowd accidentally pushed her in front of the oncoming train, killing her.

That’s an interesting position in which to get pushed in front of the express train.

After telling all this to Sunmi, Kai heads home directly, leaving Hashim and Shokicho to deal with a huge pitcher of water Nori gave them, just because she’s like that.

And what about Mera? Well… he didn’t take Sunmi’s early departure too well, so he punched a vending machine in Bukuro out of stress, after which he got a call from Skunk telling him to head straight to Buppa’s headquarters immediately. There, Buppa is crying his ass off about having found out that Sunmi is the Daishisai’s granddaughter, and over the fact that the chances he’ll be killed are very high. So Skunk comes up with a plan: kill Sunmi so the Daishisai won’t discover her actions in Tokyo; a plan that will save Buppa and Mera’s asses. While Mera is against the plan from the start, Buppa’s all in for it, just to get out alive  AND honor his dead son. Whose portrait he has hanging up on his wall.

Buppa cares about Nkoi so much that his secret lair is adorned with his likeness.

However, the plan to kill Sunmi was just a cover for Skunk’s real plan: to find Sunmi and give her back to the Daishisai (whether or not her prostitution gig leaks out is unspoken of), and in return, he gets to rule Tokyo. He relays this plan to the Daishisai himself, who’s busy meeting with his several clones in Hong Kong.

“And that’s just for purchasing our pudding alone. For the REAL profit, let’s try and buy out someplace else rich, like England.”

With his plan OK’d by the Daishisai, Skunk calls together a meeting of various WU-RONZ members, and assumes they’re all under his command seeing how they chose to come. One WU-RONZ quietly mentions that he thought Mera was the head, and even denies saying it when Skunk questions him… but Skunk won’t put up with that shit and proceeds to cut his chin. And at that point, it was decided that the true antagonist of TOKYO TRIBE2 was not Mera, but Skunk.

The “Neo” means that they’re more evil than the original could ever hope to be.

This episode was a great one to watch. The animation, in both detail and clarity, was a step up, the look into Kai and Mera’s past gave some previous scenes meaning (and others without, for now), and the plot twist at the end was very cool, proving that even though Mera was the original antagonist and spent the first half trying to kill Kai (and saving him from those trying to steal that honor), even Mera looks like a protagonist compared to Skunk. For those of you who dropped out after GOOSH GOOSH, you’re really missing out.

On the whole, this episode started out a little slow but ended up becoming awesome at the end. TOKYO TRIBE2 is the obvious winner, seeing how this episode forwarded the plot a great deal with both a look into the main characters’ pasts and the shift of the role of antagonist from Mera to his “right arm”, Skunk. Kotetsushin Jeeg came in second, because despite being very awesome, it didn’t have that same feeling that I get when watching TT2. Akahori Gedou Hour Rabuge and Gintama tie for last because of the conflicting qualities. AGHR had some awkward moments, but they were small and the stealth continuity surprised me. Gintama had another good episode with several funny moments, but Shinpachi and Kagura ruined it at the end.

HIJACKS, BROADCASTS, AND FLASHBACKS
BUT WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

Nothing, really. The working title for this was “Broadcasts and Flashbacks” because it sounded cool, and because it featured both broadcasts (of both a life in a day of the Shinsengumi and Radio Big Bang) and flashbacks (the one to Kai and Mera’s past was the main one, but Kenji being reminded of his parents telling him a little bit about the Raikouba when he was younger might count). I added “Hijacks” because the Shinsengumi program “hijacked” Gintama, and that the Eat-A-Lot Contest was hijacked by footage of Otone eating rice balls.

Best Scene: Kenji fighting and defeating Tobira with the Sky Parts.
Worst Scene: Shinpachi and Kagura beating up Gintoki after the end of his duel with Kondou.
Funniest Scene: The drunk puking on Hijikata’s pantlegs, in general. For those who remembered episode 1 of TT2 in glorious detail, then Kai attacking the Inohead from his car for a second time.
Creepiest Scene: Tsubaki’s nightmare where Kenji’s bleeding to death inside the Jeeg’s head.
Sexiest Scene: Oddly enough, Kaoruko’s ridiculously fanservicey jester outfit for the eating contest’s 3rd round.
Cutest Scene: It was obviously something that had to do with the Gedou Otome-tai. Probably their song.
Awesomest Scene: Kenji fighting and defeating Tobira with the Sky Parts.
Most Pleasant Scene: The whole thing with Kenji finding out his parents worked on the Raikouba, and admitting that it is an awesome machine.
Saddest Scene: The end of Mera’s dream/flashback, especially the part where his parents were killed by those huge axes.
The Highlight: Kenji fighting and defeating Tobira with the Sky Parts.
Biggest Question: What exactly do Tsubaki’s three separate powers (implied foresight, tracking by voice, touch communication) all amount to in the end?

Next Subwatcher will be pretty jumpy in places. One one hand, you have breathers like the Hokke sisters going to the beach, Aimi trying to woo a man in order to get his money, and Kaoruko trying to get closer to the same man’s son, if you know what I mean. On the other, you have more plot-driven events such as Hijikata searching for Gintoki as an act of revenge for Kondou’s defeat, Skunk ensuring the growth of the NEO WU-RONZ while the SARU gain connections to two other tribes in Tokyo, and the Great Jama Empire finally using their entire army to take on Build Base and defeat the Jeeg once and for all. Who will win? Who will lose? Who will have their goals crushed once again? I’d tell you, but I have to watch the shows first before I post the next Subwatcher, where the answers will be revealed…


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