SUBWATCHER EPISODE 16 – I WEAR MY SUNGLASSES ALL DAY

Even though Peter Cullen’s no longer doing the Toonami promos, that doesn’t mean I’ll quit using his voice to narrate this.

LAST TIME ON SUBWATCHER, THE NEW AGE OF THE FIRST ERA MARCHED FORWARD, SHOWCASING SURPRISING DEVELOPMENTS IN THE STARTING STRETCHES OF THEIR STORYLINES. FOR THE MOST PART, THAT IS.

GINTAMA OPENED THE FESTIVITIES WHEN KATSURA GOT A PET AS A GIFT FROM AN OLD FRIEND OF HIS: A STRANGE ALIEN CREATURE HE NAMED ELIZABETH. JEALOUS OF THE SUPERIORITY OF KATSURA’S NEW COMPANION, THE YOROZUYA DECIDED TO PROVE THEIR OWN PET’S WORTH IN A COMPETITION CENTERED AROUND THE WEIRDEST PETS IN THE UNIVERSE. THE UPSIDE: A CASH PRIZE. THE DOWNSIDE: KATSURA’S COMPETING TOO. THE BATTLE WAS SHORT YET FIERCE, BUT IN THE END, DESPITE THE YOROZUYA’S VICTORY AGAINST LAST YEAR’S CHAMPIONS, THE WINNER OF THE BATTLE GOES UNDETERMINED. AND ELIZABETH’S TRUE IDENTITY EVEN MORESO…

NEXT, ON SCI-FI HARRY, HARRY CONTINUED PRACTICING HIS PSYCHIC ABILITIES WITH HELP FROM CATHERINE, TO THE POINT OF USING THEM TO BREAK UP A FIGHT. HARRY’S ABILITIES EVEN WENT TO THE POINT OF GRABBING INTEREST OF THE LOCAL TV OUTLETS AND GRANTING HIM HIS OWN TELEVISION SPECIAL. DESPITE HIS POSITIVE INTENTIONS FOR THE EVENT, HARRY’S STILL A BIT SHAKY ABOUT WHAT’S IN STORE FOR HIS POWERS IF THEY GO THROUGH… MEANWHILE, THE MYSTERIOUS STREET KILLINGS ARE GROWING MORE FREQUENT, AND MORE NUMEROUS. JOHN FIGURED OUT ITS CONNECTION TO HARRY’S POWERS, BUT GETTING THE POLICE TO BELIEVE HIM IS ANOTHER STORY ALTOGETHER.

THEN, ON NEEDLESS, AFTER A LONG SEARCH FOR A CERTAIN SPECIFIC SOFT DRINK, EVE AND CRUZ CAME ACROSS ONE OF SIMEON’S FOUR GREAT ONES, A SEEMINGLY ALL-POWERFUL NEEDLESS KNOWN AS UTEN. HIS POWERS WERE AS NUMEROUS AS THEY WERE DANGEROUS, WHICH NOT ONLY BROKE THE RULES OF THE BLACK SPOT, BUT ALSO THREATENED THE HEROES’S LIVES AS WELL. BUT, WITH SOME HELP FROM SAID SOFT DRINK, EVE AND CRUZ WERE ABLE TO FIGURE OUT UTEN’S TRICK AND DESTROY HIM LIKE THEY DID KAFKA. THEIR BATTLE MAY BE OVER, BUT THINGS ARE ONLY BEGINNING FOR CRUZ’S PARTY…

MICHIKO TO HATCHIN CLOSED THINGS OUT WHEN, AFTER SOME TIME ON THE ROAD TALKING ABOUT THE PAST AND POTENTIAL CONNECTIONS BETWEEN THE TWO OF THEM, MICHIKO AND HANA CAME TO A STANDSTILL IN THE CITY OF LADRÃO WITH OLD FOES; MICHIKO WITH FAMED POLICEWOMAN ATSUKO JACKSON, AND HANA WITH THE UPSET-TURNED-MURDEROUS PEDRO BELENBAUZA-YAMADA. AFTER SOME ROUGHHOUSING, SOME HIGH-SPEED CHASING, AND A PERFECTLY-TIMED RESCUE, THE TWO GIRLS LEFT THEIR ENEMIES IN THE DUST. EVEN SO, THEIR ADVENTURE IS JUST BEGINNING, LEAVING WONDER AS TO WHAT LIES ON THE ROAD AHEAD.

IN FACT, THE ROAD AHEAD IS FULL OF MYSTERY, ITS CHANCES INCREASING WITH EACH PREDICTION AS TO WHAT WILL HAPPEN. SO WHAT DOES LIE ON THE ROAD AHEAD? POVERTY? SUCCESS? DANGER? MAYBE EVEN DEATH?

COMING UP NEXT:

EPISODE 16: I WEAR MY SUNGLASSES ALL DAY

DON’T DISRESPECT THE SHADES.

 Sadly, the citizens of Edo don’t think that way.

Remember Taizou Hasegawa, the head of the Edo Government’s Immigration Bureau, voiced by Fumihiko Tachiki? Well, he’s back, and he’s no longer the big shot he was before. He is now poor and jobless, having gained the popular, easy-to-remember moniker of “Madao”. It literally means “almost useless old man”, but Crunchyroll’s translators localized it into the acronym DORK, which varies depending on the person using it.

Here’s Kagura, setting the trend.

Last time we saw Hasegawa, he punched the everloving shit out of Prince Hata Baka for being an annoying little prick, his loss of the head and following of his bliss threatening his job at the Immigration Bureau. His boss ordered him to commit seppuku to atone for his actions, but Hasegawa, wanting none of that, quit his job and came to the decision to skip town. He didn’t have to tell his wife about it either, because she already left Hasegawa, leaving him a note telling him about how it pained her to live with a “Madao”, or according to the subtitles, a Dumb Old Retarded Kook Husband (DORKH), and that it was better for the both of them (mostly her) if they parted ways.

With no job, very little money, and his lucky pair of black sunglasses as his only belonging left, Hasegawa has been spending whatever parts of his life he can lounging around, either telling Kagura life lessons she’d rather hear from someone less of a Madao than him, or wasting his last bits of money he could scrounge up on pachinko.

However, hope is not all lost for Hasegawa. Attempting to get a job, no matter how medial in rank, in his slow but sure attempt to attain his former position and regain his lost dignity, Hasegawa goes to many job interviews. The first is at the Shuei Commercial Company. While waiting for his turn, he chats with another prospective employee named Shoji Endo in the hall outside, one who’s aiming to get a second job to support his pregnant wife. Hasegawa doesn’t do much else, except surprise him, give him a light for his cig, and accidentally set his hair on fire with said light.

More like deep in his hair. >_>

After Endo (who respects Hasegawa enough to not call him Madao) fails to get the job, Hasegawa goes in. Much to his delight, a former colleague of his from the Immigration Bureau, Onishi, is part of the hiring committee. Hasegawa thinks it’ll be easy to get a job, or at least a good word put in to the higher-ups, with this former connection in place.

Sadly, Hasegawa’s desperate need for a job blinded him from the fact like he treated Onishi like shit back when they worked together in Immigration Control. And now with the big man now unemployed and the little man above him, Onishi exacts his long-awaited revenge. He denies Hasegawa the job, tells him to shave of his goatee if he wants it, insults his sunglasses (that bastard!), and to rub salt on the wounds, also calls him Madao. Just not in the way Kagura and his wife did.

I spy, with my little eye, something that smells like asshole.

With that attempt having gone to shit, Hasegawa tries his hand at some other places looking for hire. They’re all less assholish and violent as Onishi was, but they still deny Hasegawa the job. The common ground is that his sunglasses need to go. But they all have different reasons to go along with it, plus different Madaos. One has a problem with his hairstyle (Drowsy Old Retarded Kook). Another, his bad breath (Degraded Old Retarded Kook). In fact the name Madao/DORK has become such a hot button in Hasegawa’s side, that he’s gotten to the point of punching people who say the word like they don’t mean it. Like the guy at the ramen stand who complained about his fried tofu soup being made with Disgusting Overcooked Rotten Kefir-flavored Stock, or DORKS.

“It’s not the standowner’s fault that his broth tastes like spoiled milk!”

But even when he isn’t looking for a job, Hasegawa is still stuck with that horrid nickname (which will be classified via person with parentheses). After his unpleasant experience at the ramen stand, he tries to find a place where he can drink away his troubles. Where else to go but Otose’s (Drunk Old Recovering Knocked-Down Customer, or DORKC) snack bar? But after a couple drinks, closing time hits, and Hasegawa, still wanting to forget with the power of sake, is directed to another snack house: the one in Kabukicho where Otae (Diehard Older Rigid Kind of Man, or DORKM) works. It’s an expensive snack house, and without money, the only possible way for him to buy anything without going into debt is to sell his watch and ring. (But not the sunglasses – they stay.) Otae, despite her usage of Madao, treats Hasegawa nicely like she does with most of her customers. Except Kondo, still stalking her, under the belief that becoming less stubborn and more of a DORKM (Desirable Older Respectful Kind-Hearted Man) will finally make her attracted to him. It doesn’t, and it never will.

“Job aside, he’s much more of a Madao than you are.”

After leaving Snack Smile without any money, his watch, or his ring, Hasegawa seeks to return to wherever park he’s sleeping at to catch up on the lost hours. But on the way there, he’s caught up in a chase the Shinsengumi are giving to Katsura (who’s in too big of a hurry to call him Madao), who has gone beyond “Zura janai, Katsura da” as an introduction.

Like always, Katsura manages to escape the Shinsengumi unharmed and undetected. However, Hasegawa ends up getting the short end of the stick and is accused of being the bomber the Shinsengumi are after. He’s eventually cleared of the accusation, but things still don’t lighten up for him. Even after saying himself that he used to be part of Immigration Control, his face being enough to ensure confirmation of that fact, Hijikata refuses to believe Hasegawa’s claim and kicks him out of the Shinsengumi’s HQ with a warning for him to never come back. In comparison, Okita’s more understanding, and a little nicer about the whole ordeal.

“Because of that, we can’t help but suspect you.”

But then again, being the crazier of the two, he orders a strip search and calls Hasegawa another variation of Madao: Deceiving Overprotected Red-Handed Kook.

So no matter where Hasegawa goes, day or night, he’s always seen as Madao, and is always told to lose the sunglasses, whether it be to get a job, get some money, open his eyes to the truth, or as part of a strip search. However, there is one person he knows, one he met at the fated pachinko parlor he visits every now and again, who knows better than to call him Madao, one who doesn’t see him as Madao, one who would be considered a Madao himself if he was older and didn’t have his own struggling business that stays afloat no matter how much money he’s lacking, and one who respects his decision to wear his sunglasses not only at night.

“Yo.”

Having mellowed out their relations between one another since the first Prince Baka incident, Hasegawa and Gintoki have been chatting with each other over their own games of pachinko. And by coincidence, they run into each other again after Hasegawa is kicked out of Shinsengumi HQ and gets a streamload of Sadaharu’s pee in his hair.

After that, Gintoki and Hasegawa go to an under-the-bridge oden stand to discuss Hasegawa’s failure at getting a job, the colorful cast of characters he met afterward, and what all of them had in common with him when they crossed paths.

“The only one who didn’t was this monk, but he would’ve done the same if he wasn’t in such a hurry.”

One Bright Noa-inspired punch to the face later, Gintoki, with assistance from the standowner, tells Hasegawa to quit blaming his failures on his sunglasses, and that if he wants to be successful, respected, not called a Madao… all he has to do is take them off, clean up his other faults a little, and step into the world, ready to climb to the top again and make the assholes like Onishi quiver at his feet like they did before he became Madao. Hasegawa is a bit hostile to the idea, but after Gintoki gives him some good food and tells him that it wouldn’t hurt to stray from his code of honor since it isn’t getting him anywhere, Hasegawa goes through with Gintoki’s suggestion and gets himself a job.

Sunglasses may make him a DORK, but those just make him look like a TOOL (Totally Ordinary Old Lame-o).

Hasegawa’s new job: a driver for one of Edo’s finest cab services. (Hey, if you want to reverse your path from riches down to rags, you have to start from the bottom.) The removal of his sunglasses makes Hasegawa more accepted, and the name “Madao” no longer applicable to him, even if he is just a cabbie. In fact, several recurring characters pop in his cab to go to their various destinations. Shinpachi and two members of his Otsu Fan Club ask to go to the Cultural Center for an Otsu concert; Otose asks to go to some random saloon; Mu, a regular patron at Otose’s snack house, requests a trip to the hospital (he felt chest pains earlier on); Otae to Kabukicho, Kondo to the same destination (using the clever tactic of a separate cab ride), Okita in Hitsugaya’s general direction (another murder attempt); Katsura (with the too-big-for-the-backseat Elizabeth in tow) just wants Hasegawa to drive around until he “sees the dawn of a new Japan”; Gintoki follows the same route and just asks for a free drive-around, much to Hasegawa’s annoyance.

However, Gintoki’s also there to check up on Hasegawa and how the new job is treating him. It’s treating him well – better than the life he led as Madao –  but even so, he’s a bit jaded about how he has no “destination” to go to while all of his clients, on the other hand, do. In short, his vision of the future is unclear, which is appropriate, with his cloudy eyes and all.

But then, Hasegawa’s job reaches his turning point when he meets the one person he hoped he’d never meet again…

In fact, most of us wish we were better off without his big purple face in our lives.

Despite his agreement with Oji (the old green alien who accompanies him everywhere) to quit visiting Earth, Prince Baka has returned to fill his quota for seeing cute Earth animals and as such requests a trip to the Ueno Zoo to see the pandas there. He couldn’t take Oji’s limo because he got his chauffeur’s license suspended. Both Gintoki and Hasegawa have had pretty nasty run-ins with the Pinhead Prince (the former killed his pet octopus, the latter lost his own job punching him to high heaven), and try to make themselves unknown to him by squinting their eyes and puckering their lips, taking on the appearance of stereotypical Japanese folk.

“Geez, is everyone in Japan either a 10 year-old girl, a monster, or a stereotype?”

So while Gintoki distracts Prince Baka by scrubbing his head and as a result pulling off his antenna, Hasegawa just stays focused on driving the taxi. That is, until he runs into Shoji Endo (the scruffy-looking guy he met at the Shuei Commercial Company), who desperately needs his help. His wife just went into labor and she needs a quick trip to the hospital so she can deliver. Hasegawa wants to help him out, since he didn’t call him any variation of the title “Madao”, but denying Prince Baka his cab ride would surely result in a complaint to the cab company and the  subsequent loss of his job. The fact that Baka hates humans and cares more about a single panda bear than every human baby in the world doesn’t help much.

With that, Hasegawa comes down to a tough decision: Will he take the spoiled, misanthropic alien prince to the zoo to see the stinkin’ panda and keep his job? Or will he take the man other than Gintoki who treated him the nicest during his Madao phase and his wife to the maternity clinic to bring a new life into the world, resulting in the loss of his job and his return to becoming Madao?

As expected of a character voiced by the great Fumihiko Tachiki, Hasegawa chooses his answer awesomely. He leads Prince Baka into believing that he’ll take him to see the panda… only to punch him in the face (boasting that the bruise will make him close enough to the panda he oh so wanted to see), open the cab up for Shoji and his wife, and come very close to going below the bottom of the barrel. Oh, and he puts his sunglasses back on.

Gintoki knows how to respect the shades. If only others could do the same…

As expected, Hasegawa gets fired from his job and goes back to being how he was at the start of the episode. But it doesn’t matterbeing called Madao or a variation of the sort (Kagura’s new “DORK” title for him is Delusional Old Reality-Ignoring Knocklehead) makes him dissatisfied; he’s just glad that he did the right thing in the end, and has now decided to follow his own path, no matter how many dead ends it may result in.

A life lesson for all the IRL Madaos out there.

This episode ended up being way better than I expected. Gintoki was my favorite character from the start, but now, Hasegawa’s making his way up there. This episode showed how cool a character he is, whether it be as a Madao or not. Hell, I even felt pure anger towards Onishi for treating him like crap (but given his justification, I can’t blame him entirely). I have a feeling Hasegawa (I’m going to call him that, because Madao is more of an applicable title, not a nickname) will take second place in my list of favorite Gintama characters someday. He really fits the description of a Disproportionately Overunderestimated Rare Kind of Awesome-Emitter, or DORKA for short. I don’t know how that translates into Madao, but the Japanese will find a way, I’m sure.

And that’s all that episode needed to be considered a great watch. Sci-Fi Harry, I didn’t find as exciting or engaging, or even well-designed like last episode, but boy, did it pile on the plot advancement. And this early in the game, too!

News of Harry’s television debut has been going around town for quite a while, the fact that Harry had psychic powers to begin with impressing some more than others. John, still holding to his suspicions that Harry’s powers are to blame for the street murders, confirms the existence of those powers – just to be sure that they’re the real deal, a step closer to the “physical proof” he needs to give Mike and Bob – by asking Catherine’s friend Nancy about it. That, and he also learns that Catherine is helping Harry out with the rehersal before the debut, explaining her prolonged absence from school.

“The same can’t be said for Catherine, though.”

True. Despite her deep involvement with the preparations for Harry’s TV debut, Catherine has been staying at home instead of Harry’s hotel, mostly to take care of Elliot, and partly to reflect over her talk with Harry from the end of last episode without feeling awkward.

Also, despite her assurance to others that she’s just acting as Harry’s guide in controlling his psychic abilities, the rumors about Catherine moving over from John to Harry still persist; at least between Nancy and her friends, that’s why John ran off. But unbeknownst to them, it’s really because he wants Harry’s powers to fail, not just for the greater good, but to keep up the status quo that was practically nonexistent back in that anime age.

“I mean, who in their right mind would hold the bat upside-down!?”

Well, there’s this girl, not to mention Hank Aaron XXIV.

Meanwhile, Mike and Bob’s investigation of the street “murders” continues, the most recent victim of Harry’s psychic powers’s feedback being a technician at the TV station, who most likely met his fate during Harry’s demonstration of his powers for Mick and Ryal last episode. For the detectives, it’s not anything too different from what they’ve been dealing with as of recent. Well, excluding the sudden involvement of the paparazzi and the ratings spike in the news show for the station.

Elsewhere in the studio, Ryal shows Harry and Catherine the stage where the former will be doing his TV special in the coming days. The various stagehands putting their all into the set, for the sake of Harry’s performance and the path to making him a star, makes him feel better about going through with the show. Although Catherine’s suddenly doubtful expression makes Harry a bit more uncomfortable, among other things.

“Wait, is that thing going up her… Oh god!”

But sometimes, the uncomfortability is worth it.

If A.P.P.P. did this as a hentai instead of a TV series, this scene would be the perfect setup for a threesome.

A threesome where the main girl is forced to watch.

Other times… it’s not.

After a day of dinner rehearsing, script reading, and dress fitting, Harry prepares to rest up for the big day in his hotel room… only to be confronted by John before his limo even takes off. Once the two are at his hotel suite, Harry is told everything by John: how the mysterious neck-snapping/twisting deaths all happened in areas where Harry went and used his powers, how they’re the only explanation for said deaths, and that his TV special will result in the deaths of more than just a single individual in the surrounding area if not stopped. The fact that Harry lacks control over his own abilities doesn’t make things much better, but despite John’s protests and attempts to get him to quit using them, he refuses to stop, claiming that this TV special is his only chance to actually do something, contrary to all the other times he just sat and watched while John did everything he couldn’t. In short, it’s Harry’s time to shine and John’s turn to watch. If Harry quits now, it’s all over for him and the status quo will be maintained. To prove his point, Harry’s psychic powers set off again…

…this time turning off the lights, breaking the windows, destroying nearly everything in the room, setting off the sprinkler system, and knocking John out cold with any random debris.

At least he didn’t get something stabbed through him, or worse, his neck snapped in two.

But because he isn’t all that bad a guy (despite looking very damn creepy against the red sky and behind the sprinkler system), Harry admits John to the local hospital. After coming to, John runs into Mike and Bob, who, as expected, let him know that another death occured just outside the Central Hotel that he and Harry were at. That warning brings John back to his original objective, and he leaves the hospital in order to stop Harry’s live show from being broadcast, bringing Mike and Bob with him. They aren’t entirely convinced of the real threat at hand, but it oughta give them some excitement.

Speaking of which, for a small town, the special has gotten quite popular. Millions of people in the surrounding area are watching, a number of others are observing from inside the studio, and it even shares the same name as the series itself. However, the only thing separating this show from that show is the quality of the title sequence.

Because CGI titles, as lazy a style as it is, take more work and effort than just displaying it flat on the screen.

As for Harry himself, he’s still convinced that going through with the show will rip him apart from the status quo he was stuck in before getting his powers, to the point where when Catherine tells him that the show should be just a one-time deal, he refuses to accept that as a decision. He won’t stop, he can’t stop, he needs to prove to everyone that he isn’t as worthless as he was percieved before.

And yet he still looks like an awkward deer in the headlights.

Then, the show starts.  Not long after the show’s introduction (that confirms the show takes place in the late 1990s) and Harry’s own introduction, John rushes into the studio to put a stop to the recording. The only person to really notice is Harry; almost immediately before he can cause a scene, John is held back by security guards, and not long after, Mike and Bob show up and advise that he give up since there’s no proof to Harry’s connection to the serial deaths. John is apalled at the idea of the police just sitting back and doing nothing while a bunch of innocent people die. However, after minutes of struggling, Mike goes with his gut, pistol-whips the guard, and goes with John to stop the broadcast in favor of the recording, leaving Bob in the studio to keep a lookout for any deaths in the audience.

Thankfully, John and Mike make it to the broadcast room in time to stop Harry’s power from being sent through the TV to the general populace…

“That was the only station we got.”

…but unlike the times before, Harry’s concentration and focus on performing his powers correctly made the backlash all the more bigger. By that, I don’t mean that just one person in the vicinity died. I mean numerous people got their necks snapped in two by the backlash. The two broadcast operators, the cameramen, over 90% of the studio audience, and, as I spoiled for you last episode, Bob.

“Bob, you bastard! I’m supposed to be the one who dies before leaving the force, not you!”

Without a shadow of a doubt, John’s suspicions are confirmed not just for him and the police, but for Harry and Catherine. Harry is just as scared as Catherine is at the indirect slaughter he caused, but he’s even more scared at John yelling at him for just causing it in general. In an act of defense, Harry repeatedly claims that he didn’t cause it (after all, it was just backlash), and with a scream…

…he blows up the studio with his psychic powers.

There’s no such thing as too many psychicsposions.

Well… damn. This episode was quite the shocker. Like I said, the engagement, excitement, and enjoyment levels were significantly below those of Gintama, and the animation was pretty limited and low-budget (that’s what you get for putting one guy in charge of all the key frames), but still… wow. I can’t say that I wasn’t completely put off by this episode. Some of the more suspenseful parts were fun to watch, even when you knew what was coming (another thing about predictability: I saw Bob’s death coming, but not most of the audience’s), and John’s confrontation with Harry in the hotel was quite exciting, mostly thanks to Yoshihiro Ike’s jazzy rendition of the main drama theme. Even the ending was suspenseful, and a cliffhanger too. Did the explosion take out everyone in the studio, or was it one without immediate backlash? Welp, if one thing’s for sure, Harry got away in time, and that’s no magic act.

Still, as much as this episode lacked in comparison to Gintama, it’s still a ways above NEEDLESS.

Despite the respect he got from Eve last episode, Cruz is still stuck in his position as chore boy for the group of Blade, Eve, and Gido. Naturally, that also includes cooking for them and cleaning their place of residence (the church). Out of the three, Gido treats Cruz with the most respect, to the point of calling him by his name instead of the surprisingly easier-to-remember Yamada. As for Blade and Eve… not so much. Between the two, Blade is clearly the nicer one, even if he is calling him Yamada and denying his apparent occupation.

“Y’know, just because I dress like a priest and live in a church, it doesn’t automatically mean that’s my job!”

In Eve’s case, while it doesn’t appear that her character development is reversing much, she’s definitely putting Cruz on a lower pedestal than she put him on last episode, treating him like the useless chore boy and not like the less-useless brains to her brawn. Not to mention her dissatisfaction at her being Cruz’s protector in the offchance that SIMEON finds them and they need to get Cruz out of danger’s way. In that regard, Cruz is worried about Blade and Eve just lying around and doing nothing, especially when there’s danger out and about.

Little does he know that lying around is a good way for the strong to conserve their energy before a fight.

And as expected, danger does end up making its way to the church, in the form of a brutish stranger possessing orange hair, an off-white duster reading “Pleased to Meat Ya”, and a cigarette which practically burns up as he smokes. Leaving it on the ground and making Cruz’s cleaning job harder on him, said stranger makes his way over to the confessional booth, meaning that Blade, the only priest in the church (no matter how hard he tries to deny it), has to listen. Under the assumption that this confession could provide some useful information for them, Eve and Gido decide to listen in, with Cruz tagging along reluctantly.

“It’s no good. All I hear are grunts and muscular flexing.”

This stranger, however, didn’t come to confess his sins, like most people who survive in the Black Spot do. Instead, he came to tell Blade that he’s here to kill someone named Adam. Automatically, Eve and Gido assume that this stranger came to kill Blade (’cause Adam is his first name), meaning that he can only be from SIMEON. Eve and Cruz try to convince Blade to feign ignorance and deny any knowledge of this “Adam” person, but in an act that could be considered either stupid or awesome (I can’t decide which), Blade destroys the confessional booth and proclaims to this stranger that he is the opponent he’s looking for.

As common courtesy, the stranger introduces himself in return. His name is Momiji Teruyama, the NEEDLESS of Flame.

The only lighter he needs is the one embedded in the palm of his hand.

Keeping his word on what would happen if SIMEON confronted them directly, Gido gets Cruz out of the surrounding area, and sends Eve with him to someplace far from the battleground. As for Gido himself, he just waits outside the church as Blade and Momiji begin their fight. At first, it seems like Momiji practically destroyed Blade with his fist of fire attack (aptly named “Little Boy”), but as expected of the awesomest character in the series, Blade just shrugged it off and used his Zero Fragment to learn the attack himself. Still, the fact that he was hit with the Little Boy attack in general leads Momiji to believe that victory belongs to him, but in another act of pure unbridled awesome, Blade proves that in a battle where both sides are using the same technique, life points don’t matter; it’s all about strength.

Unless the one with the bleeding fist is either a Deadman or a bloodbender.

After a short recovery period, the fight moves to the outside, so Momiji wouldn’t suffer as badly from the close quarters combat he was using earlier, therefore switching to long-range attacks. To start things off in the long-range, much more destructive second half of the fight, Momiji unleashes his strongest attack, a gigantic fireball projectile called “Vulcan Shock: Ignition”, aiming to hit Blade with it before he can Zero Fragment it away. Blade’s very aware of this possibility (once again proving his sane side of things) and decides to evade it instead, putting Gido in immediate danger of getting hit by the Vulcan Shock. Much to everyone’s surprise, Momiji included, Blade dodges (once again proving his insane side of things), taking out the church and Gido along with it.

With or without the disregard for the old man’s safety, Blade’s still winning back some awesome points.

So Blade’s preview narration was kind of accurate. By “kind of”, I mean that Gido survived the Vulcan Shock.

If Momiji wasn’t surprised enough already by Blade’s awesome yet life-endangering move, the fact that Blade also copied the Vulcan Shock makes him even more surprised. At first, the small size of the attack makes Momiji think he has a chance of winning this round compared to last. Too bad he didn’t see Blade’s creative side coming, as the second Vulcan Shock he fires at him (the first was a decoy) has the Kandata String hidden inside it.

A creative cheap shot, but it’s got nothing on the Catapult Flying Turtle Castle Gambit.

Meanwhile, during the entire course of the battle, Eve and Cruz make a break for it and try to find someplace safe from the destruction of Blade and Momiji’s fight. After getting all the worry for Blade’s safety out of his system (like he and Eve said, he’ll be fine, even if the opponent is unstoppable), Cruz realizes something that hadn’t been touched upon earlier (to be fair, I hadn’t either; another instance of how unpredictable I can find shows like this) pertaining to Momiji and his objective. In contrast to last episode, when Uten said he was looking for “the priest”, all Momiji said was that he was looking for someone with a stupid-looking choker around his neck named Adam, who is without a doubt also a NEEDLESS. That seems too specific to be referring to Blade, don’tcha think? Add in the fact that SIMEON grunts wouldn’t give two shits about the names of their targets, and you have Cruz’s theory: Momiji has nothing to do with SIMEON, and is fighting Blade for no reason.

Just like how Eve kicked Cruz in the head for no good reason, instantly killing all character development she went through last episode.

As it turns out, Cruz’s hunch was kind of correct. And by “kind of”, I mean that SIMEON is involved, just not in the way you would think.

Before killing Momiji with his Judgement/Execution combo, Blade taps in to his inner courtesy and gives Momiji the chance to say his last words. After sending Blade into confusion with the claims in his last words and an intervention from Gido, it turns out that Momiji isn’t from SIMEON. In fact, he hates SIMEON! On top of that, the “Adam” he’s looking for isn’t Adam Blade, but Adam Arclight.

“Nope. There’s a reason this no-name blogger keeps referring to me by my last name, and that’s it.”

Speaking of Arclight, here’s all he’s been doing this episode: for starters, he’s arranged a meeting at SIMEON HQ with Ishiyama, an official of the Japanese government whose influence on Tokyo and the Black Spot is fairly great (albeit nothing compared to Arclight), as well as a number of other officials from the government. The meeting primarily concerns foreign governments requesting NEEDLESS samples from SIMEON, the apparent guise of noninterference with the Black Spot hiding the reality of their true objective: recreating the substance that plagued the Black Spot. With that comes a bit of backstory about World War III: Japan was at war with several other countries, one of which dropped the bomb that created the black spot. Said bomb contained a substance (or, according to others, a combination of different substances) designed to alter human DNA, therefore creating the NEEDLESS. The country that dropped the bomb is unknown, even amongst the older members, so of course, the only recourse available was to use the NEEDLESS themselves to research the science behind how the NEEDLESS differ from normal humans.

Also, it turns out that inside the main HQ, Arclight has set up a plant used to create NEEDLESSes using the “raw product” he sent Saten and the now-dead Uten to collect in their “NEEDLESS Hunting”, and the importance Fragments that go along with it may tie in to what Ishiyama’s own men are cooking up.

No matter how high a priority it is, the label “canned goods” interests me more than how important it is compared to Arclight’s hobbies.

A number of the NEEDLESS that fell victim to Arclight’s most dangerous game were friends of Momiji’s, who were just petty thugs and grunts that’d cause no one any harm. So his fight with Blade was just a huge misunderstanding caused by the mere coincidence that they shared the same given name. With the misunderstanding cleared, Blade is about to let Momiji go…

…only for Eve, completely ignoring what Cruz said, to come in, beat the shit out of Momiji, and “kill” him like Blade “killed” Gido with his dodge. Being the saner of the two most insane characters in this anime, Blade takes the courtesy of pummeling Eve for her neverending stupidity into his own hands.

Or rather, with Kai’s lucky baseball bat.

One short session of Bleach-level histrionics later, Momiji, who never even got the chance to explain himself beyond his reasons for hating Arclight, is roped into the main group. This is initially due to Gido piling the costs of the damage done to the church on him, but the real initiation comes when Eve, like she did with Cruz, gives him a plain Japanese surname as a nickname to remember by: Uchida.

Now for a scene I hated at first, but later ignored due to underlying logic.

Blade and Eve’s stupidity must have rubbed off on Cruz or something, because the moment Eve gives Momiji/Uchida his nickname for life, he leaps out towards and him and tries to hug him, claiming he’s got a friend. Momiji is not pleased.

“Normally, I don’t attack anyone clearly unaffiliated with SIMEON. But when I do, I attack little kids who think I’m their friendo. Because I’m not.”

Now, thanks to South Park making me prone to liking every MC ever, I initially got mad at Momiji for that, but in all honesty, his reaction was realistic. Instead of introducing himself properly, Cruz fell victim to his case of stupid and chose the least appropriate way to greet Momiji into the group. What would you do if you were Momiji and some kid you haven’t seen before came leaping out at you, claiming you were his friend?

I thought so. Anyways, while Cruz and Gido let the three NEEDLESSes in their rag-tag group verbally duke it out (and occasionally attempt to keep it from getting too out of hand), Saten, with a blood sample from Uten in his hand, watches from afar, deciding that now wouldn’t be a good time to kill Blade, seeing how he’s busy with someone who clearly isn’t worth his time. Even so…

At the very least, “soon enough” will take from about a week to a month.

This episode is nothing special to write home about. Animation was sub-par compared to the first two episodes, despite some surprisingly good points and a guest appearance from FMA: Brotherhood animator Yoshimichi Kameda. Plot advanced a little, but not by much. Music was blood-pumping as usual. Character development got reversed. With those out of the way, I’m just gonna evaluate the five main protagonists based on their sanity levels.

Gido, by far, is the sanest out of the group. He seems to be the only one taking the whole thing with SIMEON seriously and realistically while still disregarding the Black Spot rule of those opposing SIMEON getting met with death. He calls Cruz by his actual name instead of Yamada, acts as the straight man for everyone, no matter how many people join the group, and even cares about the safety of those who can’t protect themselves, including himself, it seems. His only point of possible insanity was going against Cruz’s wishes this episode and joining Eve in listening in on Momiji’s “confession”. But that was more for the sake of collecting valuable information and less about breaking the rules.

I don’t know where to place Momiji and Cruz, but while they’re saner than Blade and Eve, they’re not as sane as Gido. Momiji is hot-blooded, prone to bickering amongst the dumber pair, and has less realistic aspirations about defeating SIMEON, but he’s also level-headed, understanding of misunderstandings when they’re pointed out, and not so kind to crazies. As for Cruz, he was also level-headed, normal, and above all else making up what Blade and Eve lack in brains and strategy, but this episode proves that their stupidity is rubbing off on him, from moralfagging around and trying to stop the arguments to claiming strangers to be his friends through the shared characteristic of a Japanese nickname. (Weird, because he didn’t do that with Uten when Eve called him Tanaka; must’ve been the fact that he was clearly evil.)

Adam is the second insanest. Without a doubt, he’s also prone to bickering, forgetful from his job to the fates of his friends, and likes to play around with his new Zero Fragmented weapons. However, he’s the tsukkomi to Eve’s boke (it’s a manzai reference; think Love Pheromone), meaning that he’s there to beat sense into her when she’s acting stupider than him (which is more often than not). He’s also more well-versed in terminology, less violent towards Cruz (unless there’s play to be had), and creative in his attack styles.

As for Eve… yeah. She’s dumb, violent, rude, forgetful, and while she sees the best in keeping Blade safe, has practically no disregard for anyone besides herself and him. She’s also inconsistent in character; saner than usual and helpful one episode, back to the status quo the next. She’s going to be a hard character to like throughout, and that’s why this episode got only a 7.5.

Anyways, previews. The previews for this series are rather interesting in the narration aspect. No next-episode descriptions like Sci-Fi Harry or TOKYO TRIBE2, but more multi-character interactions like Gintama, Akahori Gedou Hour Rabuge, and Kotetsushin Jeeg. However, the content, while pertaining to the episode, at first appear to have no ground in what the episode is actually about. But they play themselves out. Episode 2’s was Eve sponsoring her Super Gel Derodoro Drink. Episode 3’s was Blade falsely spoiling that Gido dies this episode. Episode 4’s, well… I’ll tell you the gist of it (like I’ll do with every other episode after this):

Blade: Alright, gang! Next episode, we’re going on a trip, and as with all trips, snacks are required! Any suggestions?
Cruz: Bananas.
Blade: Too phallic.
Momiji: Cigarettes!
Blade: Inedible.
Eve: Derodoro Drink?
Blade: Who said you could hang out with us? The correct answer is little girls!
Gido: I’ll have you know that I have Chris Hansen’s number on my speed dial.

If that’s anything to judge by, then apparently Blade is just as insane, if not insaner, than Eve.

Anyways, some news on Michiko to Hatchin. First, I found out it takes place in the 1960s. Reasonable, but I’m surprised I didn’t see it before. Second, my prayers from last post were answered. FUNimation recently licensed Michiko to Hatchin. It may have been the popularity of the new Lupin the 3rd anime, it may have been licensing troubles keeping it from being picked up sooner, but I’m glad it’s getting to see a stateside release, the heightened chances of it getting on Toonami making me even more glad. But since I’m still 3 episodes into the series, I’ll have to finish it before watching the dub. When it gets made, that is.

Less than a week after the last episode, Michiko and Hatchin reach São Cabai, a coastside city an unknown distance from Ladrão.

You can’t have enough setting pictures from which to rely on at random intervals.

The two are practically unknown in São Cabai, so they don’t have to go to ridiculous lengths to hide their identities, although they keep a subtle appearance for when they have to blend into the crowd on the offchance that Atsuko and the police forces under her command end up finding them.

Their primary stop is at a snack bar in the town square, the regular hangout of an old “messenger of God”. Michiko seems at the very most slightly interested at first, when she’s shown the various stones and relics the woman has on her for sale. However, the mention of her abilities as a fortune teller, Michiko’s interest spikes and uses the messenger/psychic to figure out where Hiroshi is, given that he’s still alive. Now, most fortune tellers are known hacks, but Michiko believes in this one old lady in particular. At least, when she reveals that with the help of a portait of him, she’ll end up finding Hiroshi and then live happily ever after with him.

Remove that piece from the equation, and you’re left with a seemingly insane octogenarian woman.

At least, that’s what the old psychic’s jibber-jabber makes it sound like. The fortune she gives Hatchin makes about as little sense, but proves even more cryptic than the one for Michiko.

The prediction starts with the woman advising Hatchin to keep watch over her right leg. If she doesn’t, that will result in a greater misfortune. Which is apparently Hatchin chasing after someone running from her, a mountain climb, gunshots, an ocean view, and the general fate that befell Bob and almost befell Gido.

I’d keep an eye on my leg, neck, and any fiery projectiles if I were you, Hatchin.

However, there is a small upside to the fortune (besides the advised watch over the right leg); apparently, one of the lady’s stones, the Forsa Fedra to be specific, has the power to take away the holder’s worries, and if Hatchin has that, she can escape the “loss of life” disclaimer attached to her straightforward horoscope. Michiko, believing that fortune as well, takes the stone plus a jar of supposed “God’s clipped nails” that will give her supernatural powers in addition to the psychic session.

But even with the advice and all, Hatchin still doesn’t believe in what the old lady said, and decides to go about things normally. However, her prediction starts to come true for Hatchin. And it all starts when she unknowingly steps right into some dog crap.

And so the lack of a Pooper-Scooper opens up the path to a BAD END.

Once at their hotel, Michiko settles in and heads out to go sightseeing and look around for Hiroshi (her interpretation of the old woman’s vision assured her that he’s definitely within city limits), while Hatchin spends her time cleaning her shoes off in the shower. After hanging them out to dry and getting some rest on top of that, Michiko returns with a little something to help her along with her long-term goal: a freelance artist’s sketch portrait of Hiroshi.

Yep, that nose and that chin really aren’t Ghibli enough.

Oh, and a nice new pair of shoes.

Made by a subsidary of Clea.

Hatchin is very doubtful of the fact that Michiko bought these, and those doubts prove true when Michiko outright admits that when the clerk at the store she got them from had her try them on, she just walked out without paying. Hatchin doesn’t want to walk around with a hot pair of shoes, but when her old pair are found missing the next morning, she has no choice but to wear the new pair. No doubt they feel comfortable, but being the moral, law-abiding half of the show’s titular duo, Hatchin finds out the shoe’s price (130 arca – presumably the currency in the vaguely Brazilian country the series is set in) and aims to find a job and earn that much so she can wear the shoes without guilt.

Of course, being the naive half of said duo as well, Hatchin goes for the first place currently hiring she finds for her part-time job: a “super-fancy Chinese restaurant”.

One that, dub track aside, speaks Spanish instead of Portugese.

Even though the restaurant’s owner, a husky man named Ran Yin, is very doubtful of her ability based on her age and track record with former hirees unable to keep up with his amazing skills, Hatchin is rather adamant about working there. After Hatchin gives some mature, bold statements to support why she should be hired, Ran Yin gives in and gives Hatchin the job. However, since Hatchin is young and lacks an ID, Ran Yin only agrees to pay her a quarter of the standard 40 arca per day salary of his regular hirees.

“Fail to meet my expectations, and the no-pay work days will only grow faster than your want to quit this job!”

Not to mention that her suspicious-looking nature adds on another required day of free labor.

Elsewhere, Michiko goes about town, showing the sketch of Hiroshi in an attempt to learn his location, alongside a very badly done sketch of Hatchin to learn her location. Both pics draw up no takers.

Especially when one of them looks like something a kindergartener would draw.

Hatchin’s job at the Super Fancy Chinese Restaurant Chokyuhanten is a little more successful than Michiko’s search for Hiroshi (she gave up on the search for Hatchin after finding her back at their hotel room), but not by much. Her tasks as the restaurant busboy look and apparently are decent enough to let her keep the job, but according to Ran Yin, the reason she hasn’t been fired yet is due to his kindness. According to him, her capability is lacking and her addition to the Chokyuhanten is nonexistant, not to mention that she has no idea when to recognize when a customer is ready to dine and dash.

Flustered over Ran Yin’s reasons, plus the fact that his daughter (who apparently isn’t working with him anymore) could do better than her, Hatchin goes to the back room to think about it and get out whatever anger she can. After that, she takes a page out of Character Development 101 and gives herself a haircut to show that she’s ready to treat her part-time job seriously for however long it lasts.

It’s a shame; I kind of liked her pigtails.

How long does it last? Around a couple of hours. During the remainder of the day shift at Chokyuhanten, Hatchin uses the signal Ran Yin taught her to take notice of some dine-and-dashers, this time a black and Hispanic kid. Despite Ran Yin’s warnings not to, Hatchin runs after them, putting on the running shoes she promised not to wear until she got the money (and since she practically messed up her only chance at it, that option’s out of the question, right?). However, the chase becomes less business and more personal when she discovers that one of the kids has her shoes. Yep, the ones that were stolen two days before.

I’ll leave the obligatory racism jokes to /b/, thank you very much.

And it’s at that point that the fortune teller’s warning to Hatchin becomes scarily true.

It’s clear now that the “keep your right leg safe” was in relation to accidentally stepping in the dog poop and having to wash the shoes that got stained with it, but the picture above relates that piece of information to Hatchin running after the shoe thief perfectly. Then come the other warnings. The “mountain” was the steep upwards hill she was chasing the thief up. The gunshots were those of the thief’s posse. The ocean view is what Hatchin sees from the roof she ends up losing the thief on. And the “you’ll die!” thing? That’s obviously when she gets cornered by the posse after escaping the roof and running as far as she can go without encountering any Hispanic, Negro, or Mestizo children.

Allow me to point out that they’re planning on killing her over a dine and dash, plus the fact that they stole her shoes for some unexplained reason, probably because they needed a pair to wear themselves.

Luckily, Hatchin still has the lucky Forsa Fedra stone Michiko gave her; her only chance at surviving this die-or-die situation. She holds it to get rid of any worries beforehand…

…and then throws the stone at the head of the Mestizo posse leader in charge of killing her.

Ah, nothing chases the worries away like a precious stone lodged in your forehead.

The pain of the stone-to-head impact causes him to drop his gun, saving Hatchin from the fate that would’ve awaited her had she not brought the Forsa Fedra with her. On top of that, it acts as a buy for time for when Michiko arrives, surprisingly not to pick up Hatchin (since she didn’t recognize her with the short haircut). Whatever the reason, she manages to make the posse leader know never to pick on her heterosexual life partner again. Also, not to call her an old lady.

“I’m clearly not an old lady! Look how smooth my skin is!”

This effectively scares off the rest.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: why is Michiko wearing a fancy dress? Well, it’s because she finally found where Hiroshi might be. An old man recognized the face in the portrait and said that the man there lives on the outskirts of a nearby village called Favela. Thinking she’s finally got a lead on where Hiroshi is, Michiko dressed up for the occasion and, after finding Hatchin, decided to bring her along (not like she had any choice) to see her father.

What they’re met with is disappointment. Apparently, Hiroshi has already married someone else, and had a kid with her too.

He also has some kind of mild hair fetish.

Michiko, more disappointed than Hatchin, immediately comes to the conclusion that the man she saw at the door isn’t Hiroshi, and that the real Hiroshi is somewhere else. Either that or dead. That leaves Hatchin and the audience wondering: was that man really not Hiroshi, or is Michiko just entering the first stages of permanent denial?

Either way, it’s always safe to blame the old fortune teller.

This series really is the best out of the four for this stage of the Subwatcher. You just can’t help but enjoy the main duo, no matter what they come across. The writing is great, the interactions between regular and one-shot characters are fun to watch (even if some are a bit uneasy too), the animation is excellent (this episode in particular was outsourced to BONES, one of the best studios in the business), and each episode ends with you wanting to know more and see what happens next, the lack of a next-episode preview making that wonder even greater in amount. To reiterate a couple posts ago, there’s no denying that this series is one of the best, if not the best, to ever grace the Subwatcher.

But even so, it’s place at the top this iteration is rather questionable. From a critical standpoint (which I’m not, as I’ve said before), Michiko to Hatchin would top the list, but from my personal enjoyment standpoint, I just loved Gintama and its further exploration into the character of Taizou Hasegawa a.k.a. Madao. But no matter where those two placed, Sci-Fi Harry still got third, and NEEDLESS still gets last place. I’ll be surprised if Sci-Fi Harry breaks free of that third-place constant, and seeing how it’s advancing its plot further than NEEDLESS is (and the lack of speedy plot development isn’t even what got it last place), the surprise shouldn’t be too huge.

I WEAR MY SUNGLASSES ALL DAY
BUT WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

A loose sequel to “Don’t Wear Your Sunglasses At Night”, the title once again references “I Wear My Sunglasses At Night”, only this time referring to Hasegawa’s constant wearing of his sunglasses during all times of the day, even indoors, rather than Buppa’s protesting of Mera just wearing them indoors.

Best Scene: Hasegawa punching Prince Baka in the face.
Worst Scene: Eve kicking Cruz for no reason and effectively reversing last episode’s character development.
Funniest Scene: Momiji’s reaction to Blade dodging his Vulcan Shock: Ignition and effectively endangering Gido’s life.
Creepiest Scene: More Sci-Fi Harry facial expressions.
Most Nauseating Scene: The comical bumps upon comical bumps on Momiji’s head after Eve beats the crap out of him at the end.
Sexiest Scene: A couple of cutaways featuring a scantily clad Eve come to mind.
Cutest Scene: Hatchin. Just… Hatchin.
Awesomest Scene: Hasegawa punching Prince Baka in the face.
Saddest Scene: Bob’s sudden death. I admit that it isn’t that sad, but there’s not much else to put.
Highest Tension: John confronting Harry both in the hotel and in the studio.
The Highlight: Madao/DORK.
Biggest Question: Was the man in the portrait really Hiroshi, or was he not?

Things may have heated up in some of the series this time, but next time, it heats up even more with expansion in both plot and character. For example, Harry gets kidnapped by an older woman, Blade tries to kidnap a little girl, and Gintama‘s Big Bad finally comes out to play. What happens on Michiko to Hatchin, as usual, remains a mystery as the result of a lack of preview. But, as Sci-Fi Harry showed last post, sometimes the previews can spoil, so Michiko to Hatchin‘s lack of one should leave viewers guessing until they see the next one. Anyways, next episode should be fun, with enough surprises and suspense to satisfy those actually paying attention to these posts. With that, see you next time.


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