SUBWATCHER EPISODE 17 – LOLI-DRUNK LOVE

Starting with this episode, if there’s nothing for me to say beforehand prior to the recap, I’ll just leave the area above blank. Just a heads up.

LAST TIME ON SUBWATCHER, THE MYSTERIOUS ROAD AHEAD OPENED ITSELF UP EVEN FURTHER, REVEALING ALL THAT WAS EXPECTED, AND MUCH MORE…

TO START THINGS OFF, GINTAMA TOLD THE RICHES TO RAGS STORY OF TAIZOU HASEGAWA. ONCE A FEARED AND RESPECTED OFFICIAL AT THE HEAD OF EDO IMMIGRATION CONTROL, ONE SMALL MISTAKE LED HASEGAWA DOWN THE PATH OF THE ALMOST USELESS OLD MAN: THE MADAO. NO MATTER WHERE HE WENT, THE TITLE STUCK, AND NOT ONLY THAT, BUT THE ONE PRECIOUS THING LEFT IN HIS POSSESSION WAS THREATENED IN NUMEROUS WAYS. THAT ALONE PROVED HOW SURPRISING IT WAS THAT SIMPLY REMOVING HIS SUNGLASSES COULD CHANGE THE PUBLIC’S OPINION OF HIM, BUT SOMETIMES, TITLES DON’T MATTER, JUST AS LONG AS YOU FOLLOW WHAT YOU BELIEVE. GOOD LUCK GETTING OTHERS TO BELIEVE THAT, THOUGH.

THEN, ON SCI-FI HARRY, NEWS OF HARRY’S TV SPECIAL SPREAD ALL THROUGHOUT TOWN, AS DID THE INCREASING NUMBERS OF BODIES IN THE SERIAL DEATH CASE. DESPITE ALL THE POSITIVE BUZZ INSIDE AND OUTSIDE THE STUDIO, HARRY’S WORRIES ONLY SEEMED TO INCREASE, WHETHER IT BE THROUGH CATHERINE’S DOUBTS, OR JOHN’S ACCUSATIONS. WHILE HARRY AIMED TO SHOW THE WORLD HIS WORTH ON LIVE TELEVISION, JOHN AND THE POLICE RACED AGAINST THE CLOCK TO STOP THE PSYCHIC BACKLASH FROM BEING BROADCAST WITH THE SPECIAL. BUT EVEN WITH THAT MISSION ACCOMPLISHED, IT COULDN’T STOP HARRY FROM DISCOVERING HIMSELF THE DAMAGE HIS POWERS CAN CAUSE.

AFTER THAT, ON NEEDLESS, ANOTHER ATTEMPT FOR THE GANG TO GET BY WAS INTERRUPTED BY YET ANOTHER OPPONENT READY TO LAY THE SMACKDOWN ON BLADE. THE NAME: MOMIJI TERUYAMA. HIS POWER: FIREPOWER. AS THE FLAMES OF BATTLE GREW HOTTER AND EVER MORE DESTRUCTIVE, EVERYONE EVENTUALLY DISCOVERED THAT MOMIJI WASN’T AFTER BLADE, BUT A DIFFERENT ADAM ALTOGETHER. SURE, ONE EXTRA MEMBER’S BOUND TO MAKE THINGS CRAZIER THAN THEY ALREADY ARE, BUT AMONGST ALL THE INSANITY AND STUPIDITY, SIMEON’S STILL COOKING UP SOMETHING BIG, AND ARCLIGHT’S MINIONS ARE MORE THAN READY TO KILL BLADE WHEN THE TIME COMES.

FINALLY, ON MICHIKO TO HATCHIN, A TRIP TO AN OLD FORTUNE TELLER ON THEIR UNPLANNED ROAD OF FREEDOM SPELLS OUT THE FUTURE FOR THE MAIN DUO: FOR MICHIKO, HER LONG-AWAITED REUNION WITH HIROSHI MORENOS; AND FOR HANA, HER UNTIMELY DEATH. FROM DEPARTING THE ORACLE’S ROOST TO A PART-TIME JOB TO PAY FOR SOME STOLEN GOODS, HANA’S FORTUNE STARTED TO UNRAVEL, PROVING ITSELF TRUE WITH EVERY SINGLE PREDICTION. AFTER ESCAPING HER FATE WITH HELP FROM A LITTLE LIFESAVER, HANA DISCOVERED THAT WHILE HER FORTUNE CAME TRUE, MICHIKO’S DIDN’T. OR DID IT? EITHER WAYS, IT’S BACK TO SQUARE ONE FOR THEM.

BUT EVEN SO, THE SUBWATCHER CONTINUES BEYOND THE FIRST SQUARE AND STEPS FORWARD ONTO THE SEVERAL SQUARES LINING THE ROAD AHEAD. JOKE AROUND ALL YOU WANT, BUT EVEN SO, THE SITUATION REMAINS DIRE, AND THAT MEANS IT’S TIME TO RELEASE YOUR INNER BEAST.

COMING UP NEXT:

EPISODE 17: LOLI-DRUNK LOVE

SEND ‘EM UNDER THE TABLE.

The Kabukicho Block Association has grown tired of the noises coming from the workshop of Edo’s top inventor Gengai Hiraga, but out of all of them, committee leader Otose is tired of them the most. To stop the noises once and for all, she unveils her secret weapon, a weapon so powerful, it made even her think that there should’ve been an alternative: Shinpachi singing a loud, tone-deaf rendition of pop star Otsuu’s hit song “Your Father is Chome-Chome”.

This has been the first out of two instillations of this month’s “Wise Words from Stupid People”.

The attempt to stop the noise fails, as it creates even more noise, plus an argument between Kagura, Gintoki, and Otose over who’s going to sing next in their own much more successful (probably) attempt to put an end to the noise. Luckily, the argument does end up putting an end to Gengai’s noise, but replaces it with Gengai scaring away the Block Association when his pet son robot Saburo picks Gintoki up by his head.

“Everybody run! If we get any of that guy’s naturally wavy hair on us, we’ll become as lame as he is!”

That, and Gengai complains to Otose (who’s too awesome to run away like the other old ladies who did) about how they’re the ones causing the neighborhood trouble, and not him. This apparently shows that he’s built up an immunity to his own racket, but immunity or no, Otose claims that Gengai’s noise is proof that his mental self hasn’t aged as fast as his physical self. Even that rare moment of reasoning fails to convince Gengai that he needs to close up his shop, presumably leaving his robots to take care of him until he dies.

I personally wouldn’t want a robot who ties me up and hits me upside the head to be my caretaker if and when I get old.

A bit more about Gengai: his status as the top inventor in Edo is questionable, as it’s only something that Otose overheard. He takes heavy passion in his craft, materializing his soul into his work just like most creators do/should and referring to his robots as his sons. His main robot “son”, Saburo, is named after his actual son (more on him later) and was designed as a combat robot to counter any kind of aggressor, physical or verbal in nature. And as the picture above shows, even Gengai himself isn’t exempt from getting robopunched.

However, simple dabbling in a hobby isn’t the case in this noisy instance. After the Yorozuya stay behind to help Gengai take his robots down to the riverside so he can work without the Block Association returning to complain some more, they discover that Gengai is constructing robots to perform at an upcoming festival commemmorating Japan’s opening-up to Amanto immigration 20 years ago to the day. Thanks to Kagura’s recklessness resulting in most of his robots becoming separate parts (save Saburo, who’s only missing his arms), Gengai wants the Yorozuya to stay and help him finish in time for the festival, but they run off almost immediately, leaving him to do the work himself.

The only way heavy lifting and a fast getaway can mix without disaster is if Kagura’s doing the former during the latter.

But Gengai’s not the only one busy with festival-related business. Elsewhere, the Shinsengumi have been assigned with the task of protecting the festival’s guest of honor: the Shogun himself. This involves keeping him from getting even a single scratch and instantly killing anyone who so much as looks suspicious, the latter command being revoked when Okita decides to start killing off all the samurai. But even with the order to kill-on-sight disbanded, Hijikata warns his fellow Shinsengumi soldiers that it is of utmost importance, inside and outside the festival, to keep an eye out for a certain dangerous individual who recently arrived in Edo.

And here he is.

Takasugi (voiced by the ever-awesome Takehito Koyasu) is the closest this series will ever get to both a Big Bad and a character without a random side to compensate for the serious half. As the Shinsengumi said before, he’s dangerous, to the point of having been trailed by the Shogunate (or as he calls it, the Bakufu) after assassinating over a dozen government officials during a dinner meeting, and in response becoming one of the highest priorities on their most wanted list. He is also anti-Amanto, even moreso than Katsura. Speaking of which, he runs into Katsura a few days before the festival. Takasugi’s personal love for festivals is what he claims brought him to Edo from Kyoto, where Katsura heard he settled down after escaping the pursuit of the Bakufu; but he admits that he also came to cause a little chaos, particularly involving the Shogun. Nothing outrageous like killing him, though.

It isn’t even the style suited for a deep-voiced, one-eyed criminal who evilly laughs at every given moment.

But if someone were to kill the Shogun… moving on.

Days and nights pass, and eventually the day (and night) of the festival arrives. After the initial runaway, the Yorozuya were roped back into helping Gengai work on his robots in time for the festival’s robot performance show to start. However Gengai and Shinpachi seem to be the only ones doing any work. Gintoki’s too excited about the festival (and the cotton candy) to do work, while Kagura is playing house with Saburo. The latter event easily makes my list of “most exciting games of house in anime”, second only to episode 7 of MM!.

But overall rankings won’t stop “Domestic Violence!” from being a better pre-assbeating catchphrase than “Men are scary!”

Eventually, they finish building the robots, but to give himself some alone time in fixing up the small problems in the rebuilding process, Gengai gives the Yorozuya some money to go and spend at the festival. They comply, and take Saburo with them. Gengai is at first shocked by his robot son walking off like that, but eventually mellows out once he finishes his work and hangs around the festival grounds for a while, to see Saburo, as robotic and single-minded (“affirmative” is his “omelette du fromage”) as he is, having fun with Kagura. At least it looks that way.

Kagura’s too awesome to be considered a loli, but I’d be damned if this picture doesn’t make her look like one.

Giving a chance to let Saburo be… well, Saburo until the performance starts, Gengai stops by one of the bars and talks with Gintoki. While speaking, Gengai brings up his real son, Saburo.

Saburo was just like Gengai in that he enjoyed building machines and robots with his father, an interest that sprang from tinkering with the machines when he was young. It was back in those days that Gengai made robots to help people; it was a time that Gengai himself considers the happiest he’s ever been. So when his skills gave him the title of Edo’s top inventor, he started building robots for various clients instead of just for the sake of doing it. Which clearly spelled out bad things when the Amanto came to Japan and invaded, starting the Joi War. Gengai was commissioned to build robots for the purpose of keeping the Amanto out, claiming that he was still doing it to help people (in this case Japan). The seriousness of this task stripped the joy Gengai experienced while building robots right out of him, leaving him as a grim husk of his former self. Those two details angered and disappointed Saburo, who decided to go against Gengai’s will (having robots fight the war) and join the war himself to fight for his country, in favor of letting a machine do it. Sadly, he ended up dying in the war, and when Gengai finished the robot he was working on when Saburo left, he named it after him in memoriam.

The moral of the story: if you want to live long, eat healthy, forget all the bad memories, and let your killbots do the protecting of your nation for you.

Saburo’s involvement in the war also reminds Gengai of something Otose told him: that Gintoki fought in the war as well. If Gintoki has anything to say about the Joi War, it’s that it was anything but grand, and that he lost several of his friends during the war. Gengai suggests that if Gintoki’s that pissed about the war’s turnout for him, he could go the way of Katsura and strike back at both the Bakufu and the Amanto for all they did to him. But Gintoki could care less about that. After all, he’s an odd jobs man, not a terrorist.

Elsewhere, as the robot performance show draws ever closer, the Shinsengumi keep themselves stationed around the Shogun’s reserved seat for the festival, both protecting him and keeping a lookout for Takasugi. The only ones who really seem to be doing their job are Hijikata, Kondou (if there’s one thing that comes before stalking your one-sided crush, it’s protecting the nation’s leader), and the nameless grunts under them. Okita and Yamazaki are away from their posts, the former having used “taking a dump” as an excuse for joining Kagura in hitting up Hasegawa’s shooting stand to score some of his personal belongings…

Hasegawa’s sunglasses look good on just about anybody.

…and the latter getting some food for the shogun, only to be beaten up by Hijikata on return for eating it all.

Always dispose of obvious evidence if you’re going to cover something up.

But soon enough, the robot performance show begins. It appears to be a fireworks show at first, but after one of the fireworks “accidentally” fires at the shogun’s private tent, things start to get chaotic.

Really chaotic.

If Katsura’s connections to both Gintoki and Takasugi didn’t give you a hint before, then it should be clear now: Gintoki and Takasugi knew each other from back in the days of the Joi War. It wouldn’t be strange if the two were fighting the same war and were aware of each other’s existence, but since this is a shounen series, it’s obvious that they fought in the same squadron, to the point where Takasugi is aware that Gintoki has “fangs” and an “edge” that proved his fearsomeness from back then.

Anyways, it isn’t Takasugi himself who’s doing the deed of killing the Shogun. It’s Gengai. Back in the Joi war, his son Saburo served in a volunteer army called the Kiheitai; an army that was led by Takasugi himself. Having approached Gengai some amount of time after Saburo’s death, he convinced him that the Bakufu was responsible (which, in a way, they were; they even beheaded the Kiheitai and put their heads up on a table for public display) and that this festival would be his best chance of getting back at the Shogun. Psychological Manipulation 101 right there, folks.

I heard that sharpening them also makes them more effectively intimidating.

The baring of these “fangs”, a metaphor for the fearsome and potentially violent nature an individual possesses, Gengai had also showed to Takasugi a metaphorical “beast” that represents the violent nature behind the potentiality of the “fangs”, which made it all the easier to make Gengai do his bidding. According to Takasugi, he has a beast – a black one – inside of him too, which he claims is the reasoning behind his murderous nature and enjoyment at seeing chaos reign. He also goes on to claim that Gintoki lacks a “beast” like that, having lost his “fangs” as well after moving away from the past and going on to live a carefree life as a borderline-diabetic ex-samurai who takes odd jobs, reads JUMP, and fights with his landlady.

That action alone pisses Gintoki off. After stopping Takasugi’s blade from digging into his skin, Gintoki shows Takasugi that he shouldn’t mess with him and tells him that he still has a beast inside of him; the white one that gave him his nickname in the Joi War. Being the random guy he is, Gintoki mixes it up with real life to remind us that even in its most serious, Gintama is a comedy at heart.

Gintoki’s punch is akin to a headchomp in that regard.

Meanwhile, back near the Shogun’s tent, the Shinsengumi strengthen their numbers in means of protecting the Shogun from the terrorist attack that’s about to happen, but get tied up in fighting Gengai’s robot army instead. They seem to be outnumbered in strength (to the point of breaking Kondou’s sword), but by luck, Kagura and Okita burst in to take out the killbots.

If victory is that awesome, then these two should team up more often.

Even more luckily, the Shinsengumi’s fight was a perfect excuse to allow the Shogun to sneak out of the festival unharmed, which Shinpachi points out to Gengai. That just makes Gengai target the Shinsengumi instead, but Gintoki arrives to put an end to Gengai’s terror. Once again being his casual-in-the-face-of-danger self, he alludes the whole thing to a superhero flick (where he’s the hero) and uses that to justify Gengai’s revenge against the Bakufu as not only unoriginal and overdone (hence the metaphor “crappy script”), but also unwanted, to the point where if they could cry, both the human Saburo and the robot Saburo would at Gengai’s actions. Gengai, however, is well-aware that there’s nothing he can do for the human Saburo, and that killing the Shogun wouldn’t allow his soul to rest in peace, but decides to do it anyway for the sake of following his principles. And with that, Gintoki steps in and prevents Gengai from getting his way, destroying Saburo and saving the Shinsengumi the trouble of getting themselves blown up.

They will have to watch out for any fiery blood splatter, though.

But much to the surprise of both Gengai and Gintoki, Saburo lowered his gun before getting sliced open by the latter. In his “dying” moments, Saburo the robot breaks free of the “omelette du fromage” curse and says something other than “affirmative” to Gengai. What he ends up saying are the words Saburo the human said to Gengai before leaving to join the fight in the Joi War.

I’m not sure if those last words were either Saburo the human’s ghost possessing Saburo the robot before they both passed on, or if it was Saburo the human’s spoken words being played back to Gengai in Saburo the robot’s voice. No matter what it was, it was still a sad moment that really got to Gengai and made him question how he was going to go on living without his son or his robot son. Gintoki’s advice: live a long life.

In the end, it’s unsure who ended up winning. Gengai’s face is now on “Wanted” posters all across Edo, and Takasugi got away without consequence (besides a punch in the face, courtesy of Gintoki). But in a way, there were more positives than there were negatives. First, the assassination attempt against the Shogun failed. Next, Takasugi is now aware that even in his randomest moments, Gintoki is still very much dangerous.

The other moral of the story: never doubt the potential danger your ex-friend from the war can cause, even when he’s completely lackadaisical.

According to Katsura, who met up with Takasugi the day after the festival, that’s just natural for Gintoki to keep his “fangs” bared, since he has something to protect. Unlike Takasugi, who has nothing. He’s fine with that, just until the beast inside him stops whining and there’s nothing left for him to kill.

Lastly, it appears that Gengai has taken Gintoki’s advice and has mellowed out a bit. Now, instead of loudly making robots, he’s now making and selling small mechanical animal toys for kids to play with.

As far as Katsura’s concerned, all’s right with the world.

This episode astounded me. For a gag series, Gintama is one of the most serious gag series I’ve seen. Not that it takes its gags (or itself) seriously, but because some episodes like this have plenty of drama, and it somehow works. The way the comedy blends in with the drama makes the latter less boring and more exciting,  like they’re showing that the characters retain their unique personality in favor of having the drama drastically change their character. Gintoki is the best in that regard, from referring to his inner beast as “Sadaharu” when proving that Takasugi shouldn’t underestimate him to alluding Gengai’s plan to kill the Shogun to a badly-scripted revenge flick.

Speaking of Takasugi, I think he’s going to be an interesting villain.  He doesn’t appear to be outright evil like some other Subwatcher characters (Akumako, Himika, Buppa, etc.), but he’s definitely an antagonist. His nature, his manipulation, and his voice all add to why he’s one of those rare cases of a villain you just can’t help but enjoy. Everything else needs no explanation. This episode was great; one of the best in the series so far, even in the stage where people think the show was at its worst.

After watching that, I thought that the other three episodes would serve to underwhelm in comparison to Gintama. But much to my surprise, they proved themselves better than that, almost getting to the same enjoyment par as Gintama.

First off, the OP changed. Nothing songwise or setting-based, though. Just some credits tweaking – Mitsuhiro Yamada is now the scriptwriter instead of Takeo Kasai, Shinobu Tsuneki’s now a mechanical designer, and Shinsen-Subs added their involvement to the main title – and a significant bump in the animation. Some parts now show more light and darkness than before, which serves to amp up the creepiness factor, and the animation is much more fluid near the end. Also, no more creepy hands holding the lizard at the end. Seriously, what was up with that?

“This lizard was my only friend, before my esper powers awakened and gave me the friends I deserved.”

Back to the show at hand. Last episode, Harry’s terror in reaction to having killed most of his studio audience (and also Bob) and John calling him out for doing it yet again caused the studio to explode. Luckily, no necks were psychically broken, and John and Mike are alright, save for some smudges, but a piece of filming equipment ended up falling on Catherine. Luckily, it only ended up hospitalizing her instead of killing her in an over-the-top gory fashion like all the teenagers in Final Destination.

If there’s no gratuitous bleeding or graphically charred skeletons, they’re automatically a-okay.

While the press tries to interview the police and any surviving witnesses about all that just went down, two conspicuous-looking individuals in striped grey dusters and Matrix sunglasses waltz into the building, past all the commotion and security guards (if there even are any left), and with so much as a glance from Mike as he’s simultaneously ordering a search of the building and calling an ambulance to take Catherine to the hospital, they go into the studio. The female half of the duo just so happens to be the “plot-relevant woman” from episode 2 who was at one of the crime scenes.

The other I will hereby refer to as “Jamaican Terminator”.

Who they are is at this point unknown. What is known, however, is why they’re at the studio, and it involves Harry. Once they find him, they claim that they’re here to help, assuring him that the psychic powers-produced destruction he just caused wasn’t his fault, just in case his own attempts to convince himself that he had nothing to do with it weren’t doing anything. Apparently, their assurances don’t do much help, as Harry’s still freaking out over the damage, so to make him calm down, Jamaican Terminator sedates him.

“Colored pills are overrated, mon. Homemade knockout drugs are where it’s at.”

And with that, they kidnap Harry and leave without a trace.

The next day, the police get to work on checking the details of everyone who went in and out of the TV station, living and deceased, the previous night to see if any of them were responsible for the explosion. No dice on any of them. Mike, however, is well aware that only Harry could be behind the explosion (and all the snapped necks said to be casualties), and when an inappropriately voiced police officer comes in to report this information to him, the fact that Harry wasn’t included in any of those questioned or inspected makes Mike sure that he’s been kidnapped, or at the very least using his psychic powers to disappear.

Enter Rod, an old friend and colleague of Mike at the police station who just so happens to be played by voice acting legend Norio Wakamoto. I personally think he’s overrated, but not even I can deny that his voice is awesome, and the equivalent of really good sex to the ears.

Make that really good sex followed by a morning-after compliment and a freshly brewed cup of coffee.

Seeing the weariness in his face and hearing of the rough time he’s been having ever since Bob died, Rod suggests that Mike takes some time off of the case.  Mike insists that he’s fine, but as it turns out, Rod’s not the only one with  that piece of advice in mind. The chief of police (who is also black) thinks Mike should take a break, to the point of even ordering him to sign a contract banning him from further involvment in the TV studio incident. Mike is pissed off by the Chief’s order, but is even more pissed off by the fact that the story he’s ready to release to the press about the case – that the psychicsplosion done by an inexperienced teenage esper with no reason but fear was instead a bombing by a psycho who had a beef against the media – does nothing to explain the mass broken neck events, and that his withdrawal from the case, which has been passed along to the FBI, requires a signature.

And let’s not forget the Chief threatening to fire him without actually firing him.

Meanwhile, at the hospital, Catherine is starting to recover from the injuries she sustained at the studio. However, she’s angsting quite a bit, under the belief that she’s the one who caused Harry to psychically kill all those people (and Bob). She was the one to suggest that he go on TV, after all. John (her only visitor), being the good boyfriend he is, assures her that she’s not at fault. And, being the nice guy in general he is, he points out that whether or not Harry is the one at fault is up to debate. Plus, he’s still missing, so it may take a while for his innocence to be put into question.

This picture’s just here to show that Catherine is actually getting cuter. Not kawaii cute, but cute nonetheless.

But out of all those who know him, the only one who thinks Harry is the one at fault for the TV studio incident is Mick. Now a washed-up local celebrity living in a messy hotel room, bouncing back and forth between begging Ryal and the TV executives for his job back, drinking cheap liquor straight from the bottle, and reading the bogus news stories published in the now no-longer photocopied newspapers…

At least they’re still using current events for the headlines, despite said headlines being in Engrish.

…Mick is positive of Harry’s guiltiness. Clearly, it’s not in the moral sense of if he meant to do it like John wants to know, but the fact that Harry’s the cause of the psychic backlash causing all the broken, twisted necks and psychic explosions, the fact that his powers are “the real thing”, is enough for Mick to place the fault entirely on Harry instead of the psycho obsessed with psychic powers that the media claims was behind the bombing. Just then, while musing that Ryal must be looking all over the place for Harry after his disappearance, Mick comes to the realization that he could find Harry himself before Ryal gets his hands on him first. And luckily for him, a phone call from someone claiming to be a fan of Mick’s program gives him a head start.

“Tell me you aren’t spying on me with cameras, and I won’t hang up on you.”

So where is Harry? Well, apart from his dreamworld backgrounded by Titty Kubo where Catherine’s already passed judgement on him…

Her vocal statement served as the “Execution” half of things.

…Harry is safe and sound. His exact location, on the other  hand, remains unknown, but from the looks of things, it’s a big house and he’s in a large bedroom with barely anything in it save for a bed, a table, some chairs, and an creepy loli that only he can see.

Also, the house is owned by the woman who kidnapped him along with the Jamaican Terminator. She introduces herself as Kate, and tells Harry three things. First, she insists that she’s his friend and that he shouldn’t fear her. Secondly, she tells him that Harry will now be living at her house. Like any anime protagonist, Harry shows more interest at going back to his main love interest than living a new life with an older woman/possible MILF who might as well take his virginity on top of it.

Look at that soft, sultry glare and tell me she doesn’t want to fuck.

By the way, about Harry’s want to go back to Catherine, that’s really him wondering if she was alright after his accidental psychokinetic mass murder. Kate assures him that she’s fine. Which she is.

Lastly, and most importantly, she knows about Harry’s psychic powers. Hence her suspicious and plot-relevant nature prior to this scene. She also adds that Harry was “chosen”, and from this point on, everything will change.

And the change will be faster than the contrast between red and blue in this establishing shot.

Back in Harry’s hometown, at school, John, curious about Harry’s psychic powers, goes on Yaboo! Search from the school’s computer to look up information on extrasensory perception (ESP). After coming across 61 web pages of long-winded explanations, The Sixth Sense spoilers, and Haruhi Suzumiya yaoi, John decides to give up…

…until he gets an e-mail (complete with the Engrish notification “Do you read new mail?”) from an anonymous source linking him to a webpage about something called “The Accuser”.

What better way to describe something mysterious than the title “unknown” and a stock photo of a sunset on the beach?

Later that night, Mike and Rod, like your average American policemen, go to a bar to drink away their troubles. At first, Mike starts regretting not handing a resignation letter in to the Chief along with the withdrawal agreement, with assurance from Rod that he did the right thing by just going with the agreement. But then he starts suspecting that the Chief is hiding something behind all that, by no other basis than his meeting with him being the first time he’s gotten so much as a hint of a transfer of the case from the police to the FBI. To eliminate those worries, he drinks another glass, which starts to mess with his mind, like what happens with all of us (myself excluded).

“So will you be my new partner in crime? Your voice is much sexier than Bob’s anyways.”

Earlier (judging by the change in sky color despite the spoken confirmation of it being the same day; what’s up with that?), Catherine gets out of the hospital (as expected of someone with minor injuries from a spotlight). As he’s driving her back to her place, John tells Catherine about what he read on the Accuser site he visited the previous day. From what he read, the Accuser is an organization that finds people with psychic powers like Harry, collects (read: abducts) them, and performs studies on them. Judging by that information, it can only be inferred that Kate and Jamaican Terminator are both members of the Accuser. After all, it would explain Harry’s disappearance. But John, being the kind of character who doesn’t take things too seriously, decides to think of it as a mean prank or something along those lines until he gets more proof of its credibility, which he’ll do once he meets with Mike later in the week.

Anyways, once Catherine gets home, she instinctively starts looking around for Elliot. After failing to find him in the living room, either sitting on the couch or watching the TV up close, she eventually finds him in the backyard. She thinks it’s an innocent playdate at first; that is, until she sees his spoon.

I wish my spoons could do that.

As it turns out, Elliot has also developed psychic powers. He claims he’s the same as Harry; personally, judging from the fact that he twisted the spoon instead of merely bending/breaking it, and that no apparent deaths were reported, he’s better than Harry. Oh, and he apparently got them from the invisible loli. Only she’s visible, not a loli, and also the mysterious girl from the ED. Those three details are enough to make her, if this series wasn’t a psychological horror, Catherine’s main rival in the race to win Harry’s heart.

And also the race to see whose facial expressions can kill the most boners.

She’s probably part of The Accuser too, but we’ll have to wait until next episode.

As for this episode, while there was still low-budget animation and some spotty continuity (the Chief implies the press release about the studio explosion hasn’t been printed yet, yet Mick is reading an article about it), it was better than last episode. Sometimes one key animator for an episode is good; other times, it’s a disaster. In the latter case, more key animators is a good thing. The plot really moved forward, introducing a handful of new characters, good and questionable in alignment apiece. I like Rod and Kate, Jamaican Terminator is a meme waiting to happen (that I’m surprised hasn’t already), and this mystery girl should be interesting to see in the later episodes when more is revealed about her. As for what we have now, it should be nice seeing where the series goes from here. So far, it’s enjoyable, animation quality be damned.

Now, for a show with better animation quality and a surprisingly high spike in enjoyment, despite the usual stupidity abounding.

From the opening minutes of this episode, it turns out that NEEDLESS hunting exists not only for the purposes of identifying which of Japan’s enemies during WWIII dropped the bomb that created them, but for an ulterior motive beneath even that. You see, Arclight’s current body is only temporary, and since it’s starting to degrade, a new body for him is in order. The two necessary qualities it must have are compatibility with Arclight and an increased amount of strength within it.

Both of which are necessary if Riru’s planning on bearing Arclight’s children in the forseeable future.

The next day, a new body for Arclight is found that matches those two necessary requirements. And that body belongs to none other than Blade.

Even in unofficial mugshots, Blade’s poses are undeniably awesome.

However, there’s one flaw in this plan. As Primaria, the member of SIMEON’s Analysis Unit who found the match who wears a maid costume for no other reason than it is cute, points out, Arclight already put a hit out on Blade. Arclight easily solves this dilemma by summoning Saten and calling off the assassination order in his presence. Riru, the token female of the Four Three Great Ones, points out that if the task of abducting Blade and bringing him to Arclight was left in his hands, Blade’s body would most likely be injured beyond repair (since they need an uninjured and unharmed body below the neck and left eye), so she puts the task in the hands of her Girl’s Squadron, who pilot color-coded Testaments and refer to themselves as the “Beautiful Girl’s Squadron”, much to Saten’s annoyance.

Because if there’s one thing worse than shorthand, it’s adding onto a name that lacks shorthand.

And because Saten (without thinking) lied about knowing Blade’s location, the (Beautiful) Girl’s Squadron has the added task of finding Blade first, before they retrieve him.

Meanwhile, back at the church, after recovering from the numerous injuries sustained in his quarrel with Blade and Eve (and supposedly apologizing to Cruz for smacking him, although Cruz really should’ve known better), Momiji finally gets the chance to tell everyone the longhand version of why he came to the church.

A year ago, NEEDLESS hunting became commonplace in his neighborhood, and as a result many NEEDLESS  died, most of which were his friends. After searching for the instigator of the attacks, Momiji finally came across an informant who told him that the person doing the NEEDLESS hunting behind the scenes was the head of SIMEON Pharmaceuticals, Adam Arclight. Besides that, he was told he was big, religious, and wore a stupid-looking choker. Sound familiar? He eventually learned of the church and a priest named Adam that matched the description he got from the informant, so he came there to fight. Of course, there was one piece of common sense that failed to come to mind that would have prevented the fight from going down if he had just had the time to think about it instead of going out to exact revenge against this similar-sounding stranger. And much to everyone’s surprise, the one to point it out is Eve.

I’m calling it; every other episode will have Eve show more intelligence and thought than in normal situations.

Cruz sees the obvious misinterpretation Momiji made, since practically everything about SIMEON is unknown, from their presence in the Black Spot to Arclight’s identity itself. (I’d throw in NEEDLESS hunting, but it’s only Cruz and everyone else who has no idea about it; the viewers, on the other hand, do.) Gido sees this as an opportunity to get information about SIMEON so Momiji can have a better chance at getting back at Arclight, and who else to visit but the informant that told him about Arclight in the first place?

The next day (which happens to take place around the time Arclight switches his objective from “kill Blade” to “capture Blade”), the protagonists hit the sewers of the city to speak with Momiji’s informant friend. Not much happens on the way there, apart from Cruz questioning why Blade used his bare hands to beat the Testament he saved him from rather than his Zero Fragmented powers (as Blade explains, bare hands are enough to deal with Testaments) and Momiji complaining about Eve’s Japanese nickname for him.

Cruz: “You know, I didn’t like being called Yamada either – still don’t – but believe me; after the first few days here, you’ll grow used to it.”

Eventually, after flipping switches leading to a secret passageway (his memory of such a pattern acting as proof of his higher intelligence than Blade or Eve), Momiji leads the others to a panel where, with a password, they can ask the informant what they want to know. Some info about the informant first: his name is Disc, and his identity is kept secret from everyone with help from a voice deepener and footage from the broadcast premiere of the School Days series finale.

“If you’re going to ask if I’m on this boat, then don’t even bother staying to chat.”

With Momiji’s bother by Disc’s refusal to show his face preventing him from asking about Arclight, Cruz decides to ask it instead. Despite being all-knowing in relation to information about the Black Spot, Disc denies to tell them any information unless they have money to give, or take the cheaper yet more dangerous alternative of coming  to his residence on Iron Mountain to get the intel in person.

Once back at the church, Gido tells everyone about Iron Mountain: it is a massive installation for storing personal records and state secrets of Japan, complete with an advanced security system, that managed to survive WWIII and currently resides in the Western sector of the Black Spot. With the location of Iron Mountain identified, Blade, Eve, and Momiji decide that they’ll all go on an excursion to Iron Mountain. Which means they’ll have to make their way through the Black Spot and all its lawlessness.

The man in the pink earmuffs is the most lawless of them all.

Cruz, the trip’s pack mule, thinks that with all the Fist of the North Star rejects running around, his ass would be grass before he’d get a chance to say his last words. But, with three NEEDLESSes on your side, the odds aren’t so much against him anymore.

With them at your back, anything that’ll catch you in harms way will be pulverized almost immediately.

Later that night, the protagonists find a site to camp out and eat at. While Blade and Momiji do the cooking and Gido marks their location on the map, Cruz hangs out with Eve in a moment that, much to my surprise, doesn’t end with him getting  his ass kicked (by her) like in the last three episodes. To be fair, that’s due to Cruz not doing anything that would piss off Eve. Just fawning over how awesome Blade is, and that his strength, from destroying Testaments with his bare hands to copying any and all forms of attack from those who dare to attack him, must make him flawless. But according to Eve, Blade has one fatal flaw:

Little girls.

And their custom-designed teddy bears of doom.

This flaw comes into the forefront, of all times, the very next morning. Blade and Momiji just burned what would’ve been their dinner the previous night, and the former is so tired from walking through the Black Spot that he can’t so much as move a single step. However, he instantly reenergizes himself and jumps into action the moment he hears a little girl scream. This girl (the pink-haired one in the picture above), down in the city below the cliff the group was camping out on, was being chased by some thugs for whatever reason, probably one of a nature worthy of calling Chris Hansen over. But just before she’s subject to god-knows-what, Blade drops in and beats the everloving crap out of the thugs.

Okay, so Blade’s lolicon tendencies aren’t so much a flaw as they are a weakness, but Eve doesn’t like them, and blames them for why she can never get Blade to return her feelings.

That’s the difference between homosexuality and pedophilia: it’s easier to cure love for little girls than love of the same gender.

After Blade’s great rescue attempt, he and Momiji replenish themselves with some of Eve’s Derodoro Drinks (which, while giving them all the energy they need, tastes like crap). Later, the mysterious loli introduces herself as Mio. While thankful for Blade (who she calls “Mr. Wandering Priest) saving her, once asked by the rest of the group why she was running and if she lives, she reveals that she also has a “sickness”, only this one is more natural.

Whether it’s memory amnesia like with humans, or self-knowledge amnesia like Casshern/the cast of All My Circuits, we’ll never know.

Blade, being the protective if not creepily attached older brother to Mio’s little sister, uses that as enough justification to make sure the rest of the gang doesn’t pressure her with questions she can’t hope to answer. The gang isn’t convinced. After all, her inability to answer could produce suspicion, and Blade’s most likely possessing a protective nature just so he can have Mio to himself when nobody’s looking. Which he’s planning on doing once he tells everyone else to go to Iron Mountain without him.

Am I the only one who at first thought Cruz was clenching his fists instead of the backpack?

With their above threat of violence, Blade is roped back into traveling to Iron Mountain, however at his request, Mio tags along with them.

After getting past however many more chumps stand in their way, the group finally reaches Iron Mountain and gets ready to meet with Disc. On their way in, Cruz asks what kind of person Disc is. Nobody knows, but all Momiji tells him at the moment is that Disc is over 100 years old, having been alive since WWIII. At least that explains his extensive knowledge.

However, their brisk walk in comes to a stop when a wild Testament appears, and in immediate response, Blade and Momiji team up to fight them off, taking out the first one with a Double Little Boy.

Judging by Gido’s observations, the power of a standard Little Boy is exactly 2.

However, the Testament didn’t belong to SIMEON; it was an old model from before WWIII, and what’s more, it’s been rebuilt, most likely by Disc. This could most likely mean that Disc is toying with the group, giving them a challenge to see if they’re worthy of meeting him. The challenge is briskly accepted once several more Testaments like that one show up. So while Blade, Eve, and Momiji take them all out (Eve’s Giga Drill Break is called Deadly Maelstrom, BTW), Cruz, Gido, and Mio run through the hall to secure the exit. That plan, however, proves to be a bust when Cruz accidentally triggers a trap door. He’s saved by Mio from falling into whatever pit of death lies at the bottom, but the same can’t be said for all the Derodoro Drinks that fall out of his knapsack.

Oh boy, Eve’s gonna be so pissed off.

The tripwire that set off the trap door also sets off the alarms and threatens to close everyone up in the hallway, so the group rushes out as fast as the can, getting out successful and unharmed. Except for Momiji, who has a bear trap stuck on his head, but that’s beside the point.

With the hard part behind them, the group finally reaches the main room of Iron Mountain and finally meet Disc. However, Disc isn’t a he, but a she. And a cute she at that.

But those gloves are just too huge for an immortal loli.

And as expected, she knows everything. Back when the group was communicating with her through the speaker in the sewer, she recognized Cruz as a Resistance survivor. And here, she recognizes Blade as a failure of the “Adam Project”. According to Disc, it’s a series of human experiments conducted in an attempt to recreate “The Second”. Whoever that is, I don’t know, but the Adam Project definitely relates to the opening sequence, a dream/flashback Arclight has before deciding he needs a new body.

In this flashback, he and Blade were just subjects in the Adam Project (hence their shared given name); Arclight was #78, and Blade #79 (hence the numbers on their chokers). Arclight’s rejection of the “Eden’s Apple” in his heart and right eye doomed him from the start, but apparendly Blade proved better for the scientists conducting the project. A failure, but still more successful than Arclight, who was back then just a charred skeleton with a missing eye and a jewel in his forehead.

Worst burn ward treatment I’ve ever seen, if you’re asking for opinions.

Meanwhile, outside of Iron Mountain, the (Beautiful) Girl’s Squadron finally tracks down Blade to Iron Mountain, and gets ready to beat them, regardless of how easy it will be to get trapped inside.

If those subs weren’t there, I’d translate it as “Wait, what happened to our third member?”

I might as well answer that would-be translation right now. While this reveal should most likely come to light next episode, I’ll deduce now, thanks to the power of deduction.

First off, the facts. In the opening and ending, Mio is seen with the two unnamed Girl’s Squadron members as an ensemble. A lesbian ensemble, but an ensemble nonetheless. Next, there’s the fact that there were three Testaments from the Girl’s Squadron sent out after Blade, but only two show up outside Iron Mountain. Once they were sent out, only one of the girl’s voices could be heard by itself, most definitely Mio’s (since it wasn’t the breathy blue-haired girl, or the cute mute). In a freeze-frame moment near the deployment scene, the missing Testament has a decal with the same face as Mio’s teddy bear. Factor in the small, over-the-head details such as Mio screaming out for “Mr. Wandering Priest”, her second-long flustering before giving amnesia as her reason (read: excuse) for not answering the group’s questions, and her tagging along with the group.

Combine those facts, and you have the theory: Mio isn’t a random amnesiac loli, but a member of the (Beautiful) Girl’s Squadron.

She also has some kind of foot fetish.

This episode was much better than the last three. Well, to be honest, any episode where Eve doesn’t beat the shit out of Cruz for no reason – hell, in general – is a great episode. But that’s not the only factor. Some pieces of plot were revealed (the Adam Project, Arclight’s main goal, the quest to learn information about Arclight), and while it didn’t advance much, it’s still the opening episodes, so you have to cut them some slack. Animation was a bit shoddy, but mostly in stills and not in actual animation. Nothing too glaring, nothing too Musashi GUNDOH-level, just noticable enough to label is as QUALITY and make a Meguca out of it. Even so, some moments were funnier than usual (I have to admit, I laughed at the Derodoro Drinks falling into the trap door, just knowing what Cruz was going to get himself into) and awesomer than I expected (Blade revealed his pedophilic tendencies in the most hot-blooded way possible, complete with asskickings). I think there’s hope for this series, even with the anime original ending. I’m glad I don’t drop stuff; there’s just some things in most series that make the series good beyond what pisses you off about it.

This week’s shorthand preview:

Disc: I will now reveal this anime’s backstory.
Cruz: No need, the cold opening’s already taking care of tha-
Disc: Once upon a time, a giant woman dropped her bra and created the Black Spot from the impact upon the Earth.
Cruz: I’m pretty sure it was a bomb…

Short, but the overview was short as well. Unlike the number of pictures in this post… It seems like the better the Subwatcher, the more pictures there are to describe it. Anywho, moving on…

Having recently reached a dead end in her neverending search for Hiroshi Morenos, Michiko goes to drown her sorrows at a titty bar in São Cabai (just to reiterate that despite running into a dead end, they aren’t leaving just yet) called Rumba. Her depression, however, is ruined the moment the music switches on, and the nightclub’s most popular dancer, Pepe Lima, takes the stage.

If only American strip clubs were as legitimately sexual as the ones in Brasilia.

In addition to anger at her brooding being rudely come to a halt, Michiko makes somewhat of a mild scene to show her anger towards Pepe Lima; namely accusing her breasts of being fake, unlike hers. Pepe takes the time to show her anger to Michiko off the stage rather than on, and even then, it’s just sticking her foot out and tripping her (while Michiko is drunk, no less) and dropping her purse on her head before smirking at her and walking off in a rather suggestive manner.

The next morning, Michiko goes to the Super-Fancy Chinese Restaurant to cure her hangover. Hatchin is currently there working her daily shift (I’m surprised she managed to keep the job), so Michiko has someone to talk to when not drinking soup to make her feel better. There’s less commotion there than in Rumba, apart from Hatchin asking if Hiroshi had/has any aquaintances, perhaps as a clue to help find him easier. Michiko claims there are none, but from what Hatchin and the audience heard before that denial, there’s at the very least one.

And like every other main character in this series, the first name is Japanese and the last name is American/Hispanic.

Just as Michiko is about to head back to the hotel (or at the very least another titty bar to drown her sorrows at, which would lead to another hangover), the kid’s street gang from the previous episode shows up at the restaurant to demand a hostage. However, since their business with Hatchin is done (they successfully avoided the dreaded dine-and-dash, even though she didn’t get her shoes back), they go after another target: Michiko.

“Eh, I’m too hung over to kick your ass like I did your leader, so sure, why not?”

The kid gang’s business with Michiko isn’t so much with them as it is a shirtless fellow by the name of Rico, their leader who takes care of all the problems in their neighborhood of Favela. What he wants from Michiko is an apology out of her for kicking the ass of Tony, the Mestizo make that Zambo kid who’s the leader of their shock corps. Of course, Michiko fails to recognize him, making the apology worthless to her, but Rico’s gonna get Tony his apology, even if it means holding Michiko at gunpoint until she remembers, which she never will.

But that’s good enough for Rico and all his shirtless glory to accept.

However, Michiko is distracted from Rico’s suggestions for her “apology” (which range from money to manual labor) by the woman in the other room watching soap operas and acting real dramatic about the mandatory plot twists, to the point where she breaks the TV. She steps out of her room, separated from the main room by only a veil, to get a drink, and surprise surprise, it’s Pepe Lima.

Of course, you wouldn’t know until she starts dancing.

While Pepe goes back to her room to practice her dance moves behind a veil the kids’ gang can obviously see her through, Rico decides to have Michiko apologize with money that will cover both Tony’s medical bill and the broken TV. Michiko accepts those terms.

When she leaves to go back to the hotel to let the rest of her hangover wear off in peace, she finds Hatchin outside the door to Rico’s pad, presumably about to run in and hack the kids’ gang to pieces with a cleaver. She came because of worry for Michiko (proof that their friendship is more consistent than that of Eve and Cruz), and while Michiko is thankful for that, she still thinks that Hatchin could’ve died if she came out to as shitty a neighborhood as Favela all alone as she did. In fact, she’s lucky she survived that and the car that came their way.

Never question the driving power of Homer Simpson’s pink Cadillac car.

Apparently, Pepe’s anger at Michiko’s scene at Rumba goes way beyond what Michiko got a taste of the previous night. She’s now hired some random guy to run over Michiko just so she would no longer be in her way, which she’ll apparently do through another lethal means since Michiko survived that attempt.

As it turns out, Pepe has a kid sister, and a rather pudgy one at that, named Lulu.

But hey, at least she’s pretty cute for a fat kid.

The next day, Pepe and Lulu visit the Super-Fancy Chinese Restaurant for lunch, where the former strikes up a conversation with Hatchin after they finish. She believes that Hatchin knows Hiroshi, judging from the wadded-up sketch of Hiroshi Michiko threw at her two nights before, and visual observation of the relationship the titular duo have. She then points out that if Hatchin is indeed looking for Hiroshi, she’s in luck because she’s a good friend of Hiroshi, and she can tell her what she knows about him if she shows up to her birthday party at Rumba the next night.

The conversation comes to a close as Ran Yin catches Hatchin talking instead of doing her job, so like any good employee, Hatchin gets back on the job, only to find out that Pepe doesn’t have the 68 arca needed to pay for her lunch and the leftover fried dumplings. Cue  the “dine and dash” signal.

Sure beats the hell out of the loudness and annoyance of a security alarm.

Ran Yin comes out to keep Pepe from running out without paying, and demands that she show all the cash she has on her, since she could be lying. She shows Ran Yin and Hatchin the contents of her wallet, revealing that she only has 5 arca and some pieces of paper on her, which is far from enough to pay for the meal and the dumpling box. With a police car driving by, Ran Yin thinks that Pepe won’t be able to dine and dash as effectively, but she managed to find a way to that’s creative and ingenious: using her dance skills to leap from table to table and rushing out the back.

After her job hours are completed, and her first or second payment of 10 arca is supposedly given to her (since it has been a while since her work-for-free trial), Hatchin returns to the hotel room to meet up with Michiko. She paid the money Rico wanted, and is currently resting from the “complex situation” she got herself into. Hatchin tells her about Pepe Lima’s appearance at the restaurant and tells Michiko about how she knows Hiroshi, although despite her possession of the sketch, she might have been lying about it. Michiko jumps to the obvious conclusion that Hiroshi hit on Pepe in the past.

Seeing how she’s still in a period of mild depression from running into a dead end, Michiko’s conclusions are somewhat justified.

Did I forget to mention that Hana thinks Michiko and Pepe are alike? I don’t know how, but apparently it’s there.

The next night, Pepe’s birthday party at Rumba arrives and goes into full swing. Backstage, Pepe sets herself up for the main show during the celebration, while talking with Rico (who is also her manager/pimp) about money and how she wants some of his income added onto her normal salary. He doesn’t deny her audibly, so he has his bitchslap do the talking for him.

“The five fingers say no.”

Also, Lulu, from the looks of her outfit, is planning on going onstage with Pepe during her performance, although Pepe is alright and most likely comfotrable with it if she doesn’t want to. I guess I’m not the only one who thinks a young girl has no place in a stage show where the main star takes off her panties and puts them on the head of one of the audience members.

The highest bidder gets to keep them.

Hatchin arrives at the party with Michiko in tow (Pepe suggested that she bring her, the “stupid woman”, along), but instead of sitting up front with the skeevy men in the crowd, they just hang out at the bar, where they drink. Michiko goes for good ‘ol alcohol, while Hatchin settles for orange juice, which somehow manages to get her drunk. For a common anime trope in action (Ah! My Goddess has people getting drunk off soda, and in CLANNAD carbonated lemon juice), drunk Hatchin is pretty damn hilarious, especially when Pepe comes over to the bar to hang out with her and Michiko, and a question or two about her panties turns into a rant about money.

What’s even funnier than drunk Hatchin is the fact that Michiko’s still sober.

Pepe responds to Hatchin’s question by saying that she doesn’t like money all that much, and is under the belief that if she has money, nobody will laugh at her (which prompts drunk Hatchin to claim that she’ll beat those who did up). Cue the backstory.

Pepe actually used to be a spoiled rich kid instead of the stripper we see now. She only went down that path because after her father died, her family became swept up in a large amount of debt, and as a result, she and Lulu were kicked out into the streets to fend for themselves. Nobody wanted to help her family out, hence why Pepe trusts no one, not even Rico. Once she gets the money she receives by stripping, she’s going to head to her birthplace of San Paraiso to laugh in the faces of the rich assholes who disowned her. Her only way in is with a fake ID, which she’ll get with the help of someone in São Cabai’s Chinatown, and after that, she’s off.

While Michiko finds the story to be so-so, Hatchin’s drunken state causes the exact opposite reaction.

Oh Hatchin, are you a sentimental drunk?

But to be fair, Michiko did find the story tearjerking, plus she used it to dispel Hatchin’s claim that she and Pepe were alike, namely because while Pepe trusts no one, Michiko believes in others, especially her friends and those close to her.

With Hatchin out of the way (she went to the toilet), Michiko finally gets her chance to ask Pepe what she knows about Hiroshi. But before that, a drinking contest. If Michiko wins, she gets information. If she loses, she gives Pepe money. Take a wild guess as to who wins.

Hint: it’s not the one who’s throwing up through her fingers.

Michiko, who can really hold her liquor well even while drunk, finally gets to know information, but because Pepe is so stinkin’ drunk, she doesn’t get any satisfying intel. Just that Hiroshi was a “really fat customer” and a hassle too. Any other details are interrupted by the barfing that comes when someone can’t quite hold their liqour. So Michiko leaves, takes Hatchin (who was dancing) with her, and lies her down in one of Rumba’s extra rooms so whatever hangover comes with alcoholic orange juice won’t mar her next day of work at the Super-Fancy Chinese Restaurant. However, Michiko spots Lulu trying to steal her bag, her attempt to stop her ending in failure of ridiculous proportions.

“Argh! Damn fat kids and their crazy acrobatics!”

As it turns out, the amount of money Pepe has right now isn’t enough for an ID for both her and Lulu, so Lulu tried to steal Michiko’s ID to use as her own. Sadly, her bag had nothing but clothes and sunglasses, so no ID for her. However, Pepe comes up with a plan B: steal the money she got from her birthday party’s events from Rico so that she’ll have enough to give Lulu her own ID.

After dropping into Rico’s room and stealing his cash, Pepe and Lulu seem in the clear, but there’s two problems. The first problem is that Pepe forgot to get a picture that she thinks would be perfect for Lulu’s ID. The second problem is worse. Rico found out about the theft, and has sent his kids’ gang after Pepe and Lulu to kill them and take it all back.

“If they do, capture them alive! If not, kill them.”

In Pepe’s case, the first problem is the one that worries her more. Lulu decides to go and get the picture herself, since Rico and the kids’ gang don’t recognize her, and she has good speed so she’ll be back in a flash.

However, the kids’ gang manages to find her and chase her down. Michiko, who was busy driving around while Hatchin either recovers from her juice hangover or works her day shift at the Super-Fancy Chinese Restaurant, takes notice of Lulu and recognizes her as the girl who stole her bag, aiming to get back at her.

“Eh… I’ll leave it to those little punks. Don’t wanna risk putting myself up against her gymnastics a second time.”

Later that evening, Pepe drops by Michiko’s hotel room (Hatchin still isn’t back; night shift at the Chokyuhanten?), since she’s the only one she can talk to now about what happened, seeing how Rico’s after her and Lulu hasn’t come back yet. In fact, Lulu may never come back (her status remains a mystery), and blames it on Michiko and Hatchin’s lack of ID. So, as a last resort, Pepe asks Michiko to go with her to find Lulu. Michiko refuses, not only pissed at Pepe for laying the blame on her, but also because like Jackie Chan, she don’t want no trouble. Disappointed at the fact that Michiko betrayed her expectations and proved herself as untrustworthy as the rest of her “friends” and “family”, Pepe goes to the final last resort of begging for a teamup, even threatening to call the cops if she doesn’t comply.

“No. Now get your hands off me or I’ll drunken box you right out that window.”

Michiko, being the badass she is, doesn’t care if Pepe calls the cops on her – in fact, she practically dares her to. Several punches and two pillows to the face later, Michiko, also being the nice person she is, justifies her refusal by saying that no matter how much she may want to accompany Pepe on her last stand against the shirtless menace, if she goes there’s a chance she may die, and Hatchin will be left with no one to take care of her. Although, as business as her relationship with Ran Yin is, he’d be a better guardian to Hatchin than the Belenbauza-Yamadas, but in comparison to those two, Michiko’s the best guardian.

With no options left, Pepe leaves Michiko behind to face down Rico herself, and as a parting gift, Michiko gives Pepe some money for the road.

“You already have enough, so I don’t see what the problem is.”

With Pepe out the door, Michiko takes the time to think. After thinking for a bit, she breaks the mirror in the hotel room in anger over her inability to so much as help Pepe, showing that in the end, despite her hate for that woman, she actually feels regret in not doing something nice for her, all because of her own personal principles.

“Mirror, mirror, once on the wall, why’re my good intentions two sizes too small?”

As for Pepe, her trip to Rico’s place to face off with him a final time is cut short by three of his shock corps members holding her taxi at gunpoint. The cabbie is scared for his life, but Pepe, seeing how she’s reached a dead end, decides to face it head-on despite her want to get back at Rico. But in a way, despite failing in her attempts to get a happy ending and save her little sister (which is pretty sad), dying is a good way to get back at Rico for all the shit he put her through in the last day or so.

“Face it. Whether I live or die, Rico will never be able to hire a stripper as beautiful as me for as long as he’s alive, rich, and shirtless!”

So… yeah. She’s dead.

The point of this episode is unknown to me, but I’ll have the time to figure it out in the future. Right now, I’ll just say what I think needs to be said. This series is still great, in both writing and animation, the music is great too (Pepe Lima’s dancing music reminded me of the Diplo song “Percao”), and the characters that show up are always interesting. Pepe Lima was one of the more likable side characters, which makes her demise all the more sad. But now, only one question (excluding Lulu’s status) remains: how long are Michiko and Hatchin going to stay in São Cabai? Given that I didn’t see this episode coming, I wouldn’t be surprised if they stayed another episode or two before once again running from Atsuko Jackson and her police squad.

Like I said before, each episode in this SUBWATCHER was just as astounding as, if not moreso than Gintama‘s contribution. I just don’t know how to rank it. If anything, the initially exciting nature of Gintama and the just plain excellent technical merits of Michiko to Hatchin are enough to get it in the top half, with Sci-Fi Harry and NEEDLESS stuck in the bottom half for obvious reasons (cutting costs with animation). But even so, they pulled themselves out fairly well with the former advancing in the plot quite a bit with new characters and new questions arising, and the latter with an episode that didn’t get me angry as the first three. It’s amazing what NEEDLESS can do when Eve isn’t kicking Cruz’s ass, and even then, it might not be all that amazing. It’s just that it’s a relief to see Cruz go unharmed.

LOLI-DRUNK LOVE
BUT WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

Obviously, Blade is drunk for the lolis; his instant attraction to them with so much as a scream of distress is proof of his condition being more than just a flaw like Eve claims. Even so, there was a lot of drinking. In the general sense, there was Mike getting drunk in the bar with the soberer Rod, and in a case where it’s the loli that is drunk, Hatchin (who, while mature enough to not be considered a loli, is still fairly young) getting drunk off orange juice. The Lemon Wacky Hello as neither a plot point or an extended joke with a weak punchline; just some comic relief to help match the back-and-forth mood the previous three episodes have set for Michiko to Hatchin.

Best Scene: Drunk Hatchin.
Worst Scene: The big, tall detective reporting the alibis of the TV station attendees, living and dead, to Mike that had the voice of a whiny high school student.
Funniest Scene: Drunk Hatchin.
Creepiest Scene: The stare the girl on the swingset gave Catherine after she gave Elliot psychic powers.
Sexiest Scene: Pepe Lima’s stripper acts, namely the first one with the lollipop licking.
Cutest Scene: Mio. Just… Mio.
Awesomest Scene: Gintoki facing off against Takasugi.
Saddest Scene: Pepe Lima failing to get Michiko to agree to help her save Lulu, and then dying on the way to doing it herself.
The Highlight: Blade beating the crap out of some thugs to protect Mio; the awesomest revealance of pedophilia in any anime ever. Drunk Hatchin comes in a very close second.
Biggest Question: Whatever happened to Lulu?

It’s only rare that SUBWATCHERs get to be as consistently exciting (at least to me) as this. Other times, it’s a slow rise up from lowest to highest, or a roller coaster ride where the biggest dip is at whatever point in NEEDLESS where Eve attacks Cruz for either no reason or a reason not worth attacking somebody over. Next episode could be one of those two, or it could be like this episode ‘s third option. However, no matter the layout, these questions still stand for next week’s bunch: Who’s stealing Otae’s panties if it isn’t Kondou? Which parts of Disc’s coverage of NEEDLESS‘s backstory will be brand-new, and which ones will be old news? Is there proof of Harry’s psychic backlash in the video recordings of the performance lucky enough to avoid being erased by the second coming of Jesus? And how much longer will Michiko and Hatchin remain in São Cabai before Michiko’s childhood frenemy arrives to throw her back into Diamandra? Those questions, and more, will be answered on the next SUBWATCHER.

And since the “To Be Continued” card from Michiko to Hatchin is the same as last time, here’s Jamaican Terminator, signing out in its place.


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