SUBWATCHER EPISODE 10 – THE ONE WHERE SH*T GETS REAL

Here it is, folks: the game-changer. NSFW like it’s been as of recent.

LAST TIME ON SUBWATCHER, BATTLES WERE FOUGHT, DESIRES WERE AWAKENED, AND CLIMAXES WERE APPROACHED IN WAYS THAT WOULD SURPRISE PLENTY.

STARTING OUT WITH GINTAMA, THE SHINSENGUMI DECIDED TO GET REVENGE AGAINST THE MAN WHO TOOK DOWN KONDOU BY WAY OF ADVERTISEMENT DOUBLED WITH A CITY-WIDE SEARCH. HIJIKATA, ON THE OTHER HAND, WENT OUT TO FIND GINTOKI HIMSELF, AND WHERE ELSE TO FIND HIM BUT DOING AN ODD JOB? IN ALMOST A FLASH, THE SILVER-HAIRED SAMURAI AND THE VICE-CHIEF OF THE SHINSENGUMI FOUGHT HEAD TO HEAD, ENDING WITH A VERY FAIR YET VERY SURPRISING VICTORY. JUST GOES TO SHOW THAT GINTOKI’S MORE THAN HE SEEMS UNDERNEATH HIS SILLY EXTERIOR.

THEN, ON GEDOU OTOME-TAI, THE HOKKE SISTERS CHOSE TO SPEND A DAY AT THE BEACH AND RELAX FOR A CHANGE. BUT LIKE ANY OTHER DAY OF THEIR LIVES, AKUMAKO CAME UP WITH YET ANOTHER PLAN TO SHOW THE WORLD THEIR EVIL: REVIVING THREE MONSTERS AND LETTING THEM WREAK HAVOC ON THE CITY. TOO BAD THESE MONSTERS WERE PEACEFUL, AND A LITTLE EMBARRASSED TOO.

AND LOVE PHEROMONE STEPPED UP THEIR ANTE, BUT ONLY BY A LITTLE BIT. AIMI’S DESPARATE NEED FOR A LEADING ROLE LED HER TO STALKING A RICH BUSINESSMAN FOR THE PURPOSES OF GETTING HER HANDS ON HIS MONEY. IN THE MEANTIME, KAORUKO DECIDED TO GET CLOSER TO THE INNER WORKINGS OF HIS BUSINESS. BY WHICH, SHE MEANS HIS CHILD AKIRA. BUT IN THE END, WITH NO MONEY, AND NO DESIRED PARTS, ALL HOPE WAS LOST FOR THE TWO ONCE AGAIN.

HOWEVER, KOTETSUSHIN JEEG GOT DOWN TO SERIOUS BUSINESS WHEN, IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE LATEST BATTLE, KENJI REALIZED THAT SHIBA KNEW MORE THAN HE LET ON ABOUT HIS FAMILY’S INVOLVEMENT WITH BUILD BASE. BUT JUST BEFORE EVERYTHING COULD BE REVEALED, ANOTHER HANIWA PHANTOM GOD APPEARED. BUT EVEN WITH THIS ONE DEFEATED, HIMIKA’S MINIONS KIDNAPPED TSUBAKI AND KYO, AND EVEN WENT TO THE LENGTH OF DESTROYING ANY AND ALL OF JEEG’S BACK-UP PARTS. BUT NOW WITH BALBA ON HIS SIDE, KENJI GOES OUT TO EXACT REVENGE AGAINST THE GREAT JAMA EMPIRE.

FINALLY, ON TOKYO TRIBE2, A LATE-NIGHT SHOPPING TRIP LED HASHIM TO MEETING A TRIBE IN YOKOHAMA KNOWN AS THE 045 BULLDOGS. BUT WITH THEM, AS WELL AS THE MACHIDA THUGS, GETTING TARGETED BY THE NEO WU-RONZ, ALL THAT’S LEFT FOR BOTH TRIBES TO DO IS VISIT MUSASHINO AND ASK SARU FOR THE BEST WAY TO DEFEAT THEM. AND AMONGST ALL THE FIGHTING AND GUILT-TRIPPING, KAI GOT READY TO SET IN MOTION A PLAN TO TAKE THEM DOWN.

NO MATTER WHAT THINGS KEEP THE YOROZUYA, GEDOU OTOME-TAI, AND LOVE PHEROMONE FROM GETTING RIGHT INTO THE MEATS OF THEIR PLOT, BUILD BASE AND SARU ARE CHARGING RIGHT AHEAD, BUT BEYOND ALL THE IDEAS THEY HAVE ARE CLIMAXES THAT WILL LEAVE THEM SPEECHLESS.

UP NEXT ON SUBWATCHER:

EPISODE 10: THE ONE WHERE SHIT GETS REAL

THE TIDES ARE TURNING… ARE YOU PREPARED?

Episode 10: Eat Something Sour When You’re Tired

The episode starts with Shinpachi telling Gintoki that Kondou (“the guy who was stalking my sister”) is the leader of the Shinsengumi, and Gintoki saying he already heard it from Ogushi (Hijikata).

Anyways, it’s a standard day for the Yorozuya. While Gintoki’s lying around reading JUMP and Shinpachi’s trying to get him off his ass, Kagura walks around, eating pickled seaweed (which apparently scares off the neighborhood kids who don’t want a sour smell on them), singing about deer poop, and buying toilet paper for the Yorozuya. Just as she arrives back at the Yorozuya headquarters, she finds a dog sitting in a box with a note attached to it.

I’ve heard of dogs being left on doorsteps, but never under them. Must be a Japanese thing.

After coming back with the toilet paper for the Yorozuya, Kagura gets into an argument with Shinpachi over the fact that she only bought one roll, which isn’t enough for when someone’s trying to get guys from Zurich in their house. Kagura forms a rebuttal that poor people use newspaper as toilet paper, something Gintoki told her. But beyond all that, Gintoki notices the huge white dog in the background, which freaks Shinpachi out once he notices. Apparently, it was left with the Yorozuya by someone who claims that they should take care of it while he’s away, but the anachronistic use of internet acronyms reveals that it was simply abandoned.

It would’ve been much more clever to use >_> instead of (LOL).

Gintoki’s mad over the fact that whoever left the dog (which Kagura named Sadaharu) under their doorstep thinks that they’re a charity and demands that Kagura let it go, which Kagura highly objects to. Even when Gintoki tries to persuade Sadaharu to agree with him (even though he’s just a dog), Sadaharu just bites his head.

That inspires Gintoki to come up with another plan: make a bunch of flyers and set them up around Edo, asking for someone to adopt Sadaharu, and once a prospective owner shows up, they’ll claim it and the Yorozuya can be rid of Sadaharu. Kagura still thinks they’re crazy and tries to convince them that Sadaharu’s worth keeping. Even with all the sitting, biting, and pissing.

There are limits for everything, and ruining Gintoki’s manga time just broke one of them.

Even after Sadaharu bites their heads in reaction to their anger over their pleasures in life being ruined by the call of nature, Gintoki and Shinpachi try to give Sadaharu to someone else on their own. They start off with Otose, Gintoki using Sadaharu as an excuse for this month’s rent payment. Otose doesn’t buy it and kicks Gintoki’s ass like she usually does. With that failed, Gintoki decides to go for plan B: while Kagura’s sleeping, he and Shinpachi will take Sadaharu out into Edo and try to find a new owner that way. Too bad Sadaharu ends up chasing them after Gintoki calls it a “giant poop vendor”.

And on that note, here’s an introduction to the B-plot:

Meanwhile, at the large Terminal in the middle of Edo, Prince Baka Hata (him again…) returns, this time for the purpose of visiting various zoos around Edo to find a pet to replace his dead octopus Pesu. And his arrival reveals that the audience aren’t the only ones bothered by him… The old man who follows him around is too, to the point of knocking him down flights of stairs and pinning the blame on his bodyguards.

“Because I swear, I don’t remember putting that decal on my ship, and at such a weird angle too.”

As mentioned before, Hata and Ojii go to the Edo Zoo to look at animals that Hata wants to pick out as a replacement pet. These include horned lions, your standard koala, and gorillas that wear clothes.

At least, the ones who write manga wear clothes.

However, all the pets that Hata deems as cute have some kind of underlying danger to them. The giraffe with a head on either end eats people. The sparkly-eyed praying elephant has an extendable trunk that devours people. But the super small penguin, as expected, doesn’t eat people like the first two…

This is by far the best scene involving Prince Baka in the series so far.

However, in the case that the zoos have no animals that Hata likes or pose a danger to him, Hijikata and Okita are out searching around Edo for any large animal they can give to the Prince at the ceremony he’s to attend later on. Okita thinks it’d just be easier if he just put a collar around Hijikata’s neck (which he actually did) and presented him to Prince Baka, but Hijikata is highly against it. On their stroll through Edo discussing the job, they take notice of one of the Yorozuya’s fliers, and later, while looking for it, get run over by Sadaharu as it’s chasing Gintoki and Shinpachi. He’s more pissed off at running into Gintoki two episodes in a row than showing shock at realizing that Sadaharu was the dog in the flier.

After the dog-chasing-man “game” ends, Gintoki decides to leave Sadaharu at Shinpachi’s place, because even though Gintoki took care of Otae’s stalker problem (not that it’d keep Kondou from doing it again, if the first two episodes say anything about it), Sadaharu would make a good guard dog, seeing how it’s got the “biting people” thing going for it. However, there are two problems with that plan: First, Otae doesn’t really see any point in keeping another nuisance around her house (Shinpachi’s the first, if you didn’t catch my drift). Second, Kagura woke up, noticed Sadaharu was missing, and went down to get him back… even if it meant kicking some ass.

Normal little girls can’t dropkick like Kagura can.

After getting Sadaharu back from the two, Kagura runs around with him in the park while Gintoki and Shinpachi try to figure out why it likes her more than it likes them. The answer, besides Sadaharu’s animal instincts: it doesn’t like Kagura, and she’s unaware that Sadaharu’s trying to attack her. Even when it’s running into benches in an attempt to get her off its tail, she still finds him cute, not to mention that it’s the first time an animal’s been really attached to her.

And so, Kagura tells Gintoki and Shinpachi the story of her first pet, Sadaharu No. 1, which was a rabbit. I’m not sure if it was an Earth rabbit or some super-rabbit from her home planet, but Kagura loved the first Sadaharu very much. However, that all changed one night, when she decided to bring it inside to sleep with her. Something like that wouldn’t be much of a game-changer, but when you consider that Kagura is super-strong, it really makes it a number of degrees worse. The fact that she had night terrors that very night doesn’t help.

“Ahhh! Cobras! Ahhh!”

Since Sadaharu No. 1 was a rabbit of average size, it died the moment Kagura hugged it during her night terror-fueled frenzy. After that, she became afraid that if she became attached to any other animal the same size as Sadaharu No. 1, she might end up killing it just like she killed the first Sadaharu. Which is why the current Sadaharu is different: it’s oversized, and that’s part of the reason Kagura displays attachment to it.

But even though Sadaharu isn’t attached to Kagura, it’s more attached to her than it is to Gintoki and Shinpachi; once Kagura leaves to get some more pickled seaweed to eat and scare off annoying kids with, Sadaharu immediately goes after Gintoki and Shinpachi, messing with them for a bit before it goes to sleep, giving the two the perfect chance to rest.

“And when he’s in heat, our asses as well!”

However, their rest is interrupted when Hijikata and Okita show up. Hijikata’s first instinct is to try and pick a fight with Gintoki by saying things that’ll make Gintoki force him to pick the fight, but Okita just tells him about how he and Hijikata are searching for any animal to present to Prince Hata, and that he should hand Sadaharu over to them. Since Gintoki doesn’t listen to authorities, he refuses. One segue later, the two Shinsengumi members head off, and Okita reintroduces to Hijikata the idea of using him as the animal to be presented.

But once they’re gone, Gintoki accidentally steps on Sadaharu’s tail, instigating yet another chase sequence. But that one quickly ends when the three end up getting hit by Prince Hata’s limo – prompting Ojii to try and find a time machine in the back of the limo (just like when Gintoki tried to find one inside a vending machine back in episode 4 when they hit Kagura).

The shock of hitting guys they presumably don’t even recognize from three episodes ago is lost when Hata notices Sadaharu and decides to take it has its pet, the fact that Sadaharu is a rare alien species called “Dog Gods” making it all the more valuable. Things look good for the Pinhead Prince and his older relative once they tie Sadaharu to the roof of their car and head back to the Terminal, but they didn’t count on two things: the first being that Gintoki was tied to the car roof too…

“Sup, bro?”

…and the second being that Kagura saw Sadaharu atop the car, prompting her to go after it.

If there’s one thing she hates more than lying about fair fights, it’s petnapping.

Jii tries to use force to hold Kagura back, but Kagura just swings the car off the road with her parasol of doom. Even though Prince Hata (vowing to never return to Earth again) was pwned (which is always a good thing), Kagura failed to realize that Sadaharu was still atop the car, and feels sad about it… until she realizes that Gintoki saved Sadaharu at the last second. Kagura is confused about why Gintoki saved him, since he was all for getting rid of him, but Gintoki has no idea why and tells Kagura that if she’s gonna keep Sadaharu, she should take care of him. Which she’ll do.

But even with Hata gone, Okita still insists on getting an animal for him. And considering that Hijikata won’t cooperate, Okita goes for the next best thing.

“Well, I’m more of a growler, and according to some, a grunter.”

This episode was better than I expected. It was hilarious seeing Gintoki and Shinpachi getting attacked by Sadaharu, even though I feel for them deeply thanks to all the injuries they sustained. Kagura’s likability is increasing again, and Prince Baka is still as unbearable as ever, even though this episode had him almost eaten by a polar bear, which was hilarious in and of itself. We’re still in the introductory phase of Gintama, so the plot’s far from starting yet, but if there are more episodes like this, then everything should go over smoothly from here on out.

Speaking of shows lacking an overarching plot…

One night, Yoku comes back from… well, doing what middle-school students do in their free time. Whatever it is, it got her dirtied up, meaning that she has to take a bath. Sadly, the Hokkes’ water supply managed to get some sewage in it, rendering the bath unusable. The solution to that problem: going to the local bath house where the Hokkes used to go when their bath quit working before. Otone’s well acquainted with the place, as well as its owner, a middle-aged man who’s pretty surprised at how much the sisters (well, at least all except Utano, since it’s her first time there) grew since he last saw them. Especially Otone and Kanashi.

Even though the sight of the two has the manager pop the first boner he’s had in a while (as depicted by a flower blooming), he shows his shame for looking at customers with a perverted eye by banging his head against a wooden post.

Damage your brain all you want, but the memories will never leave.

Perverted old men aside, Otone and Utano head into the bath, causing Yoku, who’s still changing, to have a flashback. That sight makes her remember the only memory she had with her mother, known only as #17, which was back during one of the many times they went to the bath house. The flashback also gives some reasoning behind Yoku’s tomboy personality: since her mother was embarrassed to have her head washed (and by extension to have her face revealed to the audience), Yoku decided to wash her father’s head instead (but he’d just react the same way), and the fact that her father’s a guy made her want to be a boy too.

To the point of making her pronouns fit her personality.

Well, there’s that and the fact that she’s energetic and plays around in the mud.

Even with the flashback ending with #17 holding onto Yoku for reasons which I can’t describe (something about “This child…” makes me think that she thought Yoku’s ambitions to change gender were kinda ridiculous), it was still a fond memory for Yoku to have.

However… remember when I said that the plot that isn’t tied to the main storyline (if you can call it that) of SGOT usually ties into what Akumako wants them to do next? Well, this episode, Akumako’s belief that baths are useless, doubled up with the recent trip that the Hokkes took, gives her a new idea: if humans have to bathe, then what would happen if everyone was no longer able to take baths? The answer: mental damage, stock market crashes, and B.O. whose power is second to that of the guy from Stink Bomb.

“And then every anime fan on the planet will be no different from those that don’t bathe already!”

In short, Akumako wants to destroy every bath in the world – that’s right, EVERY bath – and cover the world in dust and rank odors. Without giving the sisters a chance to think it over, Akumako has them immediately transform and set out on the mission. Luckily, each of the sisters’ powers come into play. Otone uses her water powers to overflow the baths and give its patrons colds. Maika uses her fire powers to heat them up to boiling temperature. Kanashi uses her nature powers to make trees grow out of then. And Utano uses her light powers to make the baths an unsafe place for women to be around… especially in the presence of perverts on the bottom floor.

“If the bath houses keep doing this, I’m NEVER going back to scrambled porn!”

Eventually, Akumako’s plan works. All baths in the world (or Japan, according to Akumako’s personal map) are now rendered unusable, or at least scared everyone else into using the intact ones unless they want to meet the same fate as their brethren.

If by “several”, you mean “more than a few but less than bunch”, then I don’t care, annoying reporter lady.

But Akumako’s plan as it stands has only one flaw: there’s only one bath house left in Japan that has evaded destruction or abandonment, and it’s the Umenoyu, better known as the bath house that the Hokkes normally visit. Why hasn’t it been destroyed yet? Yoku hasn’t done her part in the destruction of the bath houses yet, so this last one was left for her to take down herself. And the fact that her only memory with #17 was in that very bath house doesn’t help at all.

After telling herself that she won’t go through with it, Akumako and the rest of the Gedou Otome-tai arrive to try and convince Yoku to do the job. But Yoku won’t have any of it. She won’t let the other sisters destroy it, and uses the claim that her memory with her mom is tied to the Umenoyu, and that its destruction will mean that memory will disappear, to make them hesitate. But Akumako won’t have any of it either, using the claim that #17 would want them to destroy it since she wanted them to be great evils to convince Yoku. But in the case that fails to persuade, Akumako pulls out the big guns and shoots holes in the fourth wall.

Hey, Akumako? You know that overarching plots can be played out and completed in that time, right?

Akumako’s claim that the series is close to its end and the chance of a second season will be lost brings the other sisters back to her side (although Otone is doubtful that Akumako’s claim is logical). And almost right after that, Yoku agrees to destroy the bath house in the place of her sisters, even though she still shows major doubt.

Much to my surprise, she succeeded. But then, the forces that be turned the conclusion of this bad deed into a huge reversal. As it turns out, the Umenoyu was built atop a reserve of natural spring water. Nothing manufactured and filtered out, or dirtied up and groggy. We’re talking the real stuff here, the stuff you only find deep beneath the crust!

Or somewhere VERY close to the mantle, since even Akumako finds it burn-worthy.

This surge of natural water boosts Umenoyu’s popularity, a sort of sign for the manager to keep it open for a little while longer, and everyone rushes in to take a well-deserved bath. Akumako, bandaged head to toe from the underground water, is displeased, but the Hokke sisters are kind of glad to have everything back to normal. Especially Yoku, who shares Otone’s belief that it happened because #17’s spirit didn’t want to lose that memory either.

This episode was a pretty nice and calm episode. It was interesting to see that the Gedou Otome-tai actually did something to progress their goal to become great evils, even though it was taken away from them at the end. But that doesn’t really matter, since they’re all fine with putting it off for another day. I haven’t mentioned this before, but I like how each of the sisters were given their own episode over the course of the series thus far. While episodes 1, 2, 4, 6, and 8 were more or less ensemble episodes, Otone got the most focus on episode 5, Maika with episode 9, Kanashi with episode 7, Utano with episode 3, and now Yoku with episode 10. I also like how this series is aware of its plot, how it ties in to almost every episode, and how this episode brought the plot the closest its ever been to completion.

However, some series just forget their plot and act as a vehicle for the 3 F’s: fame, fanservice, and firepower.

If there’s one thing Aimi loves more than lolis, big breasts, money, and destroying her enemies, it’s the franchise known as Tamashii-chan. And I mean that seriously. But to be fair, most of the stuff is just plushies, anime DVDs, and a newly released video game. And apparently, this franchise concept is better known in Japan as a “media mix”, and the Tamashii-chan example makes Kaoruko wonder what would happen if Love Pheromone got their own media mix. And that gives Aimi an idea, illustrated by her stealing another anime’s costume design in order to emphasize her point.

Even though I’m on her hit list, I have to admit that Aimi looks kinda hot in Akumako’s outfit.

Aimi’s plan is the stupidly obvious one to turn Love Pheromone into a franchise. To start off, she and Kaoruko head off to an advertising agency known as SATZ (the real-life literature producer for AGHR) to get popular. SATZ is known for specializing in a number of media: anime, manga, games, novels, figures, children’s card games… the works. The first step is the bottom rung of the SATZ pyramid: anime.

For starters, your importance would be pushed aside in favor of Steven Jay Blum.

/NIBAI MUGENDAI reference, even though I’m rewriting the entire thing at the moment.

But seriously, Aimi thinks that if they get animated, children from around the world will adore them. Even though their show would end up on [adult swim] anyways… But their desired outcome leads Aimi and Kaoruko (at Aimi’s persuasion) to fantasize about what it would be like if they were famous: specifically, all-girl harems, little boy butlers, fighting over the last mango slice, the “Sixteen Declarations of Love”, unlimited body massages, and concerts without security.

Just in case your memory over the last year and a half gave out.

After standing around fantasizing, Aimi and Kaoruko go forward into the anime ward of SATZ… which is about as elegant as it gets in the anime industry.

Pictured: a look inside the fanciest anime studio in Japan. You know the one. 😉

The two are impressed by the studio’s cleanliness… but are more interested in the key animator who looks like a stereotypical otaku and hasn’t heard about Umenoyu’s grand reopening due to his work. But in SATZ, dirty people are banned, so the animator is cast into the depths of hell… a better name for marketing.

However, Love Pheromone’s quest for an anime is halted by the leader of the ward telling them that they need a game made before they can get an anime. Which is true for quite a few… *coughclannadcoughkimiarucough* The game section of SATZ isn’t as clean as the anime section, but still looks professional. They are, however, a little weirded out by everyone freaking out over a bug in the game one second, and then laughing it off simultaneously after learning that the game was made that way.

Sure, laugh about it now, but one Konami Code later and everybody’s getting sued.

Even so, Aimi still asks, and they’re told to go to the manga floor.

The manga section isn’t as nice as the other two. As it turns out, all manga is inked by a staff of people, much like in a Chinese sweatshop. The poor work conditions cause people to normally pass out and be replaced, or become violently ill and start coughing up blood; not a problem if you’re working on a shounen, but worthy of getting sacked if you’re working on a shoujo.

Nobody wants tuberculosis on in their manga books.

Once again, Aimi and Kaoruko are told to go somewhere else. First, they go to the toys and figures section. They’re then directed to the cards section. After that, the fast food vending machines section. After being directed out the window, they find the cosplay section and are then directed to the top of the SATZ pyramid: the Novels Ward.

The entrance looks like that to a Japanese bordello in Bukuro. Only less boobs on the walls.

There at the top sits the manager of SATZ, a novel writer who views the Japanese people as ants (a view that Aimi agrees with) and spends most of his time drnking wine and finishing the writing of his novels by adding the last period to the last page. Oh, and he also gets 500 million yen PER DAY from all the stuff SATZ puts out. Since all of it’s being directed to him and him alone, and they apparently view that as “deceiving their fans and eating the medulla of their bones”, Aimi and Kaoruko go into Love Pheromone mode and destroy the SATZ pyramid. Not the wise way to reach your solution…

Eventually, Aimi and Kaoruko are left to get famous the only way one can without relying on media mix: the doujinshi market. And that job’s only successful if you keep your ink pail away from the table you’re drawing on.

I’d suggest getting spill-proof containers. Or another table.

This episode was weaker than the first part, but it was pretty cool to see a more satirical portrayal of the anime industry. The accurate and somewhat dark portrayal as seen in Paranoia Agent is still the best, though. And it was also nice seeing more of Aimi’s lesbian fantasies. Kaoruko’s shotacon one was expected, but not as heavily forced down our throats as it was last episode. Also, the voice acting seems to be getting weaker. Must be new talent (for 2005).

Overall, this episode’s parts were better than last episode’s parts. I don’t have much to say, but I hope the final episodes work out better than some of the middle episodes. Particularly 6 and 9. Also, the previews answered one of the Big Questions: Aimi is capable of going into Love Pheromone transformation mode without Kaoruko following suit.

It’s at this point that getting pets, taking baths, and forcing yourself into a media mix are no longer relevant this episode… now it’s time to focus on the more serious matters at hand. That’s right: the things that give this post its name.

As mentioned in the title above, this entry’s Jeeg episode begins with Himika performing a ceremony (using the same chant she used to awaken the Yomi Soldiers, now less out-of-place) to extract Tsubaki’s hidden latent powers from her. In the meantime, Kyo’s still in the Big Shooter, but this time, he’s somehow started to bleed from the mouth.

The worst kind of chest pains are the ones that have the heart pump blood the wrong way.

Even though hope for the two having been unharmed has been lost, the hope for their rescue still remains intact, as Kenji and Balba are continuing to make their way toward the Great Jama Empire’s headquarters in the center of Kyushu. And although the Jeeg’s fighting power has significantly decreased (that is, if that’s what Shiba was trying to say before the poor reception cut their connections to Kenji off), Kenji doesn’t care, as long as Tsubaki and Kyo are rescued and nothing stands in his way. And if something does? He, with assistance from Balba, just destroys it using the Jeeg’s simplest moves (Spin Storm and Knuckle Bomber, specifically), from Yomi Soldiers to stock Haniwa Phantom Gods.

However, after a croup of the latter is taken care of, Ikima, at Himika’s command, is sent down to confront Jeeg and destroy it using something so secretive at the time of order, that it was only known to the audience as “that“. And what is that? Oh, it’s just a secret technique special to the Great Jama Empire in the form of a huge stone warrior by the name of Bansho-Ragu.

Skull-shaped shoulderpads = Serious Business.

Kenji and Balba try to hold their own against Bansho-Ragu with their attacks, but Bansho-Ragu just shrugs them off with its energy fields and reflective powers. After putting all the effort he can into fighting Ikima’s summoned soldier, Kenji nears being defeated once Bansho-Ragu electroshocks him and disconnects all of the Jeeg’s limbs. And even then, that still doesn’t stop Kenji from refusing to admit defeat, showing that even when he’s, as Ikima puts it, “literally being unable to lift a finger”, he’ll still protect Tsubaki no matter the cost. Kenji’s words remind Balba of his former master Miyazu’s words to Himika back in Kyo’s dreamspace in episode 5, and as a result, awesome happens.

Using the power of the Bronze Bell, Kenji manages to make the Jeeg levitate so that it moves itself over to Balba, connecting it to a small module in its back, making it appear like the Jeeg is riding Balba like a horseback rider does a horse.

There’s also a huge-ass spear included with the unlocked power upgrade.

In a rare moment mid-series where the animation gets an impressive upgrade, Kenji uses this new power to slice Bansho-Ragu in half, and then use a new move known as the Balba Storm (which is the Spin Storm, only out of Balba’s mouth) to destroy its core. While Ikima is left shell-shocked by Bansho-Ragu’s easy defeat, Kenji and Balba go forward to find Tsubaki and rescue her.

And that’s the first instance of shit getting real.

As it turns out, the whole fight with Bansho-Ragu was instigated so Himika could buy more time to take Tsubaki’s powers. And much to Kenji’s surprise once he arrives, Himika’s plan worked.

And it follows the Naruto formula of body markings + eye color change = EVIL.

Using Tsubaki’s now fully awakened hidden latent powers, Himika extracts both Bronze Bells: that of the current Jeeg, and that of the old Jeeg (the latter action destroying the original head and exposing Hiroshi Shiba, who appears to have not aged unlike Miwa). That simple action gives Himika a boost in power, therefore finishing her need for Tsubaki. But before she can go and kill them… Kyo appears to stop them.

And that’s when shit gets real for the second time.

Well, that explains how he understands Balba so well.

Now before you go and side with Professor Otaku (whose review of this series I didn’t even finish due to spoiler reasons and a negative opinion) on this, allow me to explain. Kyo’s real name is Takeru, and he’s an alien; a furry alien at that. He and his sister Miyazu (better known as Kenji’s mother) were participating in a millenia-long intergalactic war with other rival species, and due to an internal injury sustained to their airship Langoon, they had to land on Earth, back when humans first began life. That’s when the other alien lifeforms that they created/captured (namely Himika, Ikima, Mimashi, and Amaso) turned against them when they had to decide whether to dominate the human race or assimilate into their ranks. Naturally, Himika and her future minions chose the former option while Takeru and Miyazu settled for the latter.

You see, paranoids? Not all aliens want to destroy the earth like the movies want you to believe!

Miyazu tried to convince Himika and the others to live peacefully with them (since they were created/imprisoned by them, after all), but Himika always refused, seeing how Takeru and Miyazu always lived for destruction and she felt the same way, thinking it was cheap that they’d turn their back on their ideals by choosing to preserve the Earth. Takeru and Miyazu, with assistance from Balba, fought Himika and the others and sealed them in the land after their battle was over. Seeing how it’d be boring just sitting around and watching the world develop around them, the two siblings decided to cast themselves into a long sleep, to awaken once Himika herself was revived (as “those created by Langoon would not experience true death while it existed”). And with them they took the Bronze Bells; in actuality two of the control units for Langoon. In the meantime, the rest of their species had secretive interspecies sex with the humans, practically making plenty of present day humans part alien.

Then, in the 1970s, Himika was revived, and in response, Takeru and Miyazu revived as well, forming Build Base with Professor Shiba and entrusting one of the Bronze Bells to his son Hiroshi (the second was kept as a back-up in case shit happened).

Another bomb drop: Tsubaki is a descendant of a family of shrine priests and maidens that has protected the bloodline of Takeru and Miyazu’s race, meaning that that responsibility has been passed onto her as well, alongside the will of his clan. Kenji’s job is to protect that will, and the combination of the two will create a miracle that has yet to be explained.

I feel the same way too, Kenji.

You know, everything makes a lot more sense now that all that’s been revealed. Kyo/Takeru’s visions in episode 5 (the dream episode) were actually flashbacks to his battle with Miyazu and Balba against Himika and her minions, with the Kyo we knew at the start in place of the Kyo we now know as Takeru in order to hide the spoiler, and make it seem as if it was just Miyazu and Balba doing the one side of the fight. The reasoning for the Jeeg’s existence is still a bit shaky, but it makes sense how the Bronze Bell would make it work, since it was actually a control unit from the very beginning (albeit for a space vessel instead of a transforming robot). The fact that Kenji’s mother was an alien (and also Kyo/Takeru’s sister, therefore making him his uncle) and that Tsubaki’s family protected his mother’s bloodline shows how her hidden latent powers came into effect when she went to rescue Kenji in episode 8. And Kenji’s alien blood – the blood of the clan Tsubaki’s family was sworn to protect – brings up a good idea as to how he has the power to protect that will she inherited: Tsubaki’s family protected their bloodline, so it’d make sense for the reverse to apply as well. Making Miyazu’s words to Kenji not just an expression of how cute he and Tsubaki are together… but an actual order to protect her so the clan’s will isn’t diminished. Adding onto that, Kenji’s mother’s spacecraft was controlled by the Bronze Bell – the same Bronze Bell used to power the Jeeg, which Kenji was specifically chosen to be the pilot of for then-unknown reasons.  The idea that Kenji’s alien blood and that bloodline’s connection to the Bronze Bell being the reason he was chosen to pilot the Jeeg and protect the Earth makes the most sense out of any of my theories. That’s another Big Question answered! And the first one, too.

Finally, those chest pains Kyo’s been having throughout the course of the series? Apparently, it’s an early warning sign of his upcoming death from old age.

“On that note, if you’re wondering, it was your ass I was looking at during your fight with Yagyu. Sorry if that creeped you out, since you’re my nephew and all.”

And with that, Kyo/Takeru begins his final fight against Himika in her minions, with Balba to assist him. However, Himika teleports out and leaves her minions to do the fighting for her. In the meantime, the Build Angels arrive on their motorcycle escape pods to hold off any attempts to keep them inside Himika’s lair, and to help Kenji get Tsubaki and Hiroshi out of it, using the Big Shooter (minus the unit that actually shoots things) to ensure a quick, speedy getaway.

While they escape, Kyo/Takeru continues his fight, and from the looks of things, he’s got the upper hand; proved even moreso by his killing of Mimashi. However, Kyo/Takeru ends up getting himself killed… as a combination of chest-pain and getting stabbed through the chest by Ikima.

“I…regret… some things… You know the ones.”

Kenji is surprised to see Kyo/Takeru get defeated so easily, and gets even more surprised to see Balba go in after him. But Kenji wouldn’t really be surprised by Kyo’s last thoughts being about which one of them was the better racer. A kind of nice last thought, thinking about your nephew/friend/rival who you’ve only known for ten episodes.

And where was Himika in all of this? She teleported to her central control center: the floating “Eight-Forked Serpent” hidden within the mountain where her lair was. She then proceeds to use it to begin her ultimate destruction of Kyushu… and that includes Build Base.

Think your average Love Pheromone attack, only ten times worse.

Thoughts on this episode: Whoa. Just… whoa.

On that note, here’s another dropper of bombs. Not as huge, but still just as surprising if you’ve come to enjoy TT2 as much as I have.

The episode begins as just your average day in Asakusa, with elderly Japanese people and stereotypical blond-haired Americans equally enjoying the sights. However, when some of them prepare to go on a boat tour of Tokyo… much to their shock, they discover that the boat tour has been replaced by a meeting of all the tribes in Tokyo (minus the WU-RONZ/NEO WU).

Well, technically, it’s three per tribe.

The meeting, led by Kai, Iwao, and Renkon Chef, called over three representatives for almost every tribe in Tokyo. Some of them are recognizable, like the HANDS, the 045 Bulldogs, and the Thugs. Others are never-before-seen ones with names like the Emperors and the Pirates, and also have distinguishing traits like tattoos, piercings, open suits, afros, etc.

As for what the meeting is about, it’s about the NEO WU-RONZ. It begins with the simple question of if they know them or not; some don’t, while others mention them encroaching upon their territory. Kai follows this up with characteristics of them: they’re a branch of the WU-RONZ that wear a white kung-fu dress, have a daily increase in members, and possess the goal of controlling Tokyo. Afterwards, some argument starts to develop amongst some of the other members, with some claiming that they can beat them, and others calling bullshit because the NEO WU haven’t raided their territory yet. But after Kai stops a full-on riot from breaking out, he goes on to explain that he and the others brought on three people from each of Tokyo’s largest tribes in order to band against the NEO WU and their cheating ways.

“If there’s one time where Monoply DOESN’T end in the Big House, that time will be now!”

However the Utoku tribe member who got his arm chopped off by Mera back in the beginning of episode 1 speaks up and blames the cause of the NEO WU’s existence on the conflict between the SARU and the WU-RONZ. He goes up and tells Kai about his arm, and then blames him for the cause of the fighting and tells him that he can’t forgive Mera or anyone on his side. Kai holds himself back against Utoku, but once Iwao steps in to stop the fighting, Utoku snaps and stabs him in the arm.

“Feh. You call that twig you stuck in me a knife?”

But Iwao, being the badass he is, removes the knife from his arm and attacks Utoku, triggering a massive riot amongst the tribes and ensuring that the chance of an alliance is nigh impossible.

Later in the day, after the meeting-turned-brawl ends, Kai goes over to his apartment to cool his nerves a bit…

Just because I think this picture’s too cool not to be screencapped.

…and after getting a call from Hashim to hang out at Penny’s, wonders to himself what Tera would’ve done if he was still alive and in charge of the meeting instead of him. My guess is a better turnout and not so much bloodshed.

Hashim and Shokicho are a little nervous at Kai’s gloomier-than-usual attitude, so Gondou comes up with the perfect plan to get him out of his funk:

“I hear that they’re pumping natural water now, and it’s really popular amongst the regulars!”

Despite Kai’s protests, Gondou has him go anyways, with Hashim and Shokicho tagging along. So while the latter two mess around in the bath area, Kai and Gondou head over to the outdoors springs to talk a bit about recent events, particularly the punch Kai gave Gondou last episode (which he apologizes for), and something that heightens Kai’s spirits a bit: even with Tera dead, Kai’s enthusiasm about keeping the SARU going strong is holding them together, to the point where their regualr meetups at Penny’s are all happening thanks to him, implying that he’s become the new Tera in their eyes. Kai thanks Gondou for that, and with that, he’s out of his funk.

According to Tera’s ghost, that is a very good thing.

But just because things on the SARU’s side are all good now, it doesn’t mean that the same can be said for the WU-RONZ. Mera’s now spending most of his time alone, with some of the people who know about the WU-RONZ worrying about how violent it’s become ever since the NEO WU came into existence.

But one night, Skunk invites Mera to a candlelight dinner at a rooftop restaurant in Tokyo, to offer him a position in the NEO WU’s ranks, seeing how Buppa’s fears of murder by the Hong Kongese are leading him to pin the blame on Mera for Sunmi’s harlotry. Mera does the right thing and refuses in the form of him deciding to leave Bukuro, but Skunk, furious at Mera’s decision, sends Mera over to Buppa’s place to exact punishment. However, Buppa’s more pissed at Mera for wearing sunglasses indoors again, and smacks them right off his face.

That’s the third instance of shit getting real. In this case, for Buppa.

At that point, Mera cements his place as the coolest character in the show by walking over to his sunglasses, putting them back on his face, and ending it by running up to Buppa and stabbing him in the chest, followed by a slash to the face.

Even with Daisuke Gouri’s recent-as-of-two-years death making this a little harsher, Buppa still deserved every moment of it.

Buppa’s right-hand men try and shoot Mera for the attack against their commander, but Mera leaves before he can get shot. Seeing how his betrayal of the WU-RONZ as it is now ensures him that he can never set foot in Bukuro without being seen, he decides to hide out in a love hotel where he spends most of his time practicing his swordsmanship.

Skunk and the NEO WU, on the other hand, continue their conquest of Tokyo. The next target on their attack list is Shibuya, and this attack forces several WARU members into fighting them (much to Renkon Chef’s dismay). Even with the NEO WU’s large numbers, the WARU still believe that they have a chance of beating them (especially with the somewhat ridiculous action of the NEO WU members saluting Skunk and yelling “Banzai”)…

And that’s when shit gets real for the fourth time.

Just as Chikachiro realized during their fight, Kai wasn’t joking about the NEO WU’s growing powers. Despite the good fight put up, the NEO WU proceed to beat the WARU, and personally disgrace them by lopping off Chikachiro’s chonmage, showing the disgrace that he felt at his defeat.

“Now to do away with this headpiece that was bottling up your inner shame.”

News of the WARU’s defeat spreads fast amongst the other tribes, and all of them are in shock that one of the strongest tribes in Tokyo could fall so easily to the NEO WU. However, this news only makes some realize that Kai’s words at the meeting were the truth. Others either haven’t heard, or are just too stubborn to give in. The rest are getting beat up by the NEO WU and converted into members themselves.

They were clearly drawn in by all the free BJs.

Eventually, after killing off some more weak tribes and a couple strong ones, either leaving them to disband or using their discounts on “pleasurable” activities to convert them, the NEO WU-RONZ finally reach the point where they transcend a simple tribe and proceed to the highest possible ranking in the Tokyo underground, a ranking so large that it can’t be just kept in the dark. Within a few days, the NEO WU-RONZ evolve into the Skunk Empire, a Nazi-esque regime whose only clear difference is the Japanese character “ス” in place of the swastika.

Not to mention that their equivalent of Hitler is a midget lacking a toothbrush mustache.

The rise of the Skunk Empire and their violent ways of dealing with things (hell, when they announce their claims of Bukuro and Tokyo to the public, they bash in the face of a guy stupid enough to rebel against them) let all the other tribes, including the man who got de-armed by Mera, know the truth behind Kai’s words at the tribe meeting, and come to the realization that Tokyo will come to an end once Shinjuku and Musashino are taken. Some of those who already believed Kai’s words beforehand, such as the remnants of the WARU, hide in the shadows of Tokyo from the brutal regime that’s taken over and formulate a plan to get back at them for taking what was once theirs. As for Kai himself, he’s just wondering what the hell Mera’s doing, not knowing that Mera has nothing to do with the Skunk Empire.

The only business he has is with his swordsmanship.

Speaking of which, not all of the NEO WU turned Skunk Nazis are happy with their position. Three former WU-RONZites – John, Namihei, and Tsucchi – all disband from the NEO WU before its decent into Fascism and join Mera. Another member, Ago – the one whose chin was cut by Skunk back in episode 8 – decides to join after the Nazi conversion, but to act as a spy so he can send intel back to his small group. According to him, Skunk’s planning something, and they need to know what it is before they end up like Kotetsushin Jeeg and reach the point of no return.

Not even the WU-RONZ higher ups are happy with Skunk’s spike in craziness. Buppa’s bodyguards are worried that Skunk might blow all of their budget on his Hitler fantasies, but Buppa, whose Mera-induced attack brought his mentality down to that of a small child, could care less about that. All he cares about is Sunmi.

And the teddy bear of foreshadowing that comes with the manchild downgrade.

Speaking of which STILL, in the midst of his recording of the districts of Tokyo that have fallen thus far to the empire and his flashbacking to his days in Musashino back when he and Mera were still friends with Kai (proving that he was so much of a third wheel that any recently told joke won’t be repeated for him), Skunk gains word that his men have finally found Sunmi on a ship sending refugees back to Hong Kong. But just to show that despite their power in numbers, chasing what really matters to them always ends in failure, when they arrive at the scene, Buppa’s men have already shown up to take Sunmi themselves, proving bad not just for Skunk, but for Mera as well. And even worse, Jadakings’ Sunmi senses kick in at that moment…

The red eyes of death are coming for you…

Much like all the TOKYO TRIBE2 episodes thus far, this one has certainly moved forward the plot a lot, but unlike the others, it pushed it to the point where things have to be taken in a serious light, no matter how far-fetched they get. Like the lack of police. People who have seen this before complained about that concern primarily, ignoring the show’s self-awareness of that lack. Apparently, conspiracy-fueled connections with the yakuza isn’t enough for them to just wave it on by… Animation was a bit weak and the sound was a bit off, but it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of it. Next episode ought to be great seeing how the protagonists (the SARU and the other tribes), pro-antagonists (Mera’s group), and the antagonists (Buppa’s men) are plotting their revenge against the super-antagonists (the Skunk Empire).

Overall, this episode was pretty wow-worthy. At least, in half 2. Kotetsushin Jeeg’s rise in awesomeness and increase in revelations proved to be effective in its claim of the best episode this post. TT2 followed up in second with some fairly surprising twists and an interesting hook onto the events to follow. Gintama wasn’t as enjoyable to me as the first two, but it was still fun. AGHR gets last place, because something has to.

THE ONE WHERE SHIT GETS REAL
BUT WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

Shit got real in Jeeg and TT2. What else is there to explain?

Best Scene: Kenji and Balba combining to defeat Bansho-Ragu.
Worst Scene: The SATZ gaming department loudly laughing off the freakout over the bug in one of their games.
Funniest Scene: Prince Baka getting attacked by alien zoo animals (and a polar bear).
Creepiest Scene: Buppa’s face after he’s reduced to “blubbering manchild” mode.
Sexiest Scene: I have to admit, Tsubaki looked pretty hot in her ritual clothing, and Miyazu’s true form never fails to stun.
Cutest Scene: One of Aimi’s two lesbian harem fantasies, since they were more cute than sexy this time than any other time.
Awesomest Scene: Kenji and Balba combining to defeat Bansho-Ragu.
Most Heartwarming Scene: A tie between Yoku’s memory with #17 at the Umenoyu, and the deeper meaning between Kenji and Tsubaki’s inner bond.
Saddest Scene: Kyo/Takeru dying from Ikima’s blade.
Most Shocking Scene: Queen Himika destroying Kyushu, alongside Build Base.
The Highlight: Kenji and Balba combining to defeat Bansho-Ragu.
Biggest Question: If the Bronze Bells were originally control units to an alien spaceship, then what’s their connection to super robots?

Welp, there you have it. Things might not have changed much on Gintama and Akahori Gedou Hour Rabuge, and most likely won’t next episode, with the Yorozuya helping out a sickly old man and Love Pheromone training for a comedians competition. However, Jeeg and TT2 reached the point where there is no return. With the Great Jama Empire aiming their world-destroying efforts beyond Kyushu and the Skunk Empire still instilling a brutal regime to the people they come across they disagree with, things are getting much darker. Even the respective efforts Build Base and the remaining tribes (plus Mera’s group) against their enemies, it won’t undo the realness that overtook them this post. But at least I can rest easy now that I’ve gotten this post over and done with. With that, see you ne-

“Found you!”

Shit.


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