The rich, buttery, epic tale of Hyouge Mono continues with all the battles taking place inside Sasuke’s head. When Senno Soueki served him with the araki bowl, he suspected the tea master knew he had spared Araki’s life. He chose to be upfront and honest with him, and he proved correct; but Senno had no intention of ratting him out to Master Oda. Say what you will about Sasuke’s priorities, the man has good instincts, and it’s why he’s survived many battles and now serves as a governor.
Another example of his instincts is when Oda welcomes him to his sublime, over-the-top Azuchi Castle and offers him a choice of rewards for his deed: cash money, or an exquisite “barbarian” (read: Chinese) green lacquer container. Sasuke choses the cash, but reaches out and touches the box. Oda accepts his verbal reply for the cash as the wise choice, as a leader of men such as he must have cash to spend. He gives him both the money and the container.
Then Oda goes all megalomaniacal, proclaiming to a somewhat worried Sasuke that he intends to besiege and conquer the mainland, currently run by the Ming and Joseon Dynasties. The island isn’t enough for him. Just when Sasuke thought Oda had acquired and achieved everything he possibly could, he raises the bar. Later, one of General Akechi’s men insults Oda as deluded by grandeur. Sasuke all but demands satisfaction, but Akechi extinguishes the brush fire.
The true message – which only Sasuke can discern amongst those gathered at the banquer – is sent when Akechi uses an ordinary teakettle and not the exquisite gift from Oda. This could mean displeasure with Oda, or a refusal to follow him to China and Korea, likely to die in a blaze of glory. Speaking of exquisite, this series continues to feature the very best facial expressions and sayings. Old-timey Japanese talk is some of the most fun stuff to listen to, especially with chill, modern beats in the background, lending a noirish atmosphere. Rating: 4
What I’ve found striking about this series is that it stars a pint-size punk kid with goofy hair and a generic punk kid voice and angsty tendencies, but by God, if anyone has a right to angst and cry, it’s this kid. And when he does scream, at least it isn’t as annoying as Rin from Ao no Exorcist. If we were in Ganta’s situation, we’d probably have to fight pretty hard to keep our sanity, let alone our poise. This week he re-meets his nemesis, who he calls “Red Man”, to which I say, what’s his beef with Wu-Tang Clan?
Seriously though, the evil dude who killed his class is known as the Wretched Egg, and Promotor Tamaki keeps him in G-Block, a block no one knows about, including Captain Makina – except for Tamaki himself…and Shiro. After another brush with Eggman in which more people are killed and maimed, Ganta wants to go to this G-block to teach him a lesson. And suddenly we have a mini Scooby Gang in place: Ganta, Shiro, and Yoh. We also know Ganta (and Egg’s) power is called “Branches of Sin”. They worked together to get here, and are concerned with one another’s safety.
To his credit, Wretched Egg just smirks a lot and says “slice”, but beyond that insanity, he made the conscious choice to inject (infect?) Ganta with his power. Why’d he do that? Why Ganta specifically? Did he simply meet the biological conditions? And did Tamaki sic Egg on Ganta, meaning is Egg in his employ, or is Egg working outside any authority?
And, oh yeah, is Yoh simply being friendly to Ganta because he’s being paid to? When the robot thingy scans Shiro, she has no number or information. We still have no idea what she is, or why she resembles Mimi. Lotsa questions, which is good. Rating: 4
This episode is a bit of a “jumper” – dancing from one POV to another, and from another timeframe to another. But it holds together quite well; despite being a bit bemused and dizzy at times, I was never lost about what was going on. And a lot went on. First, there’s a mole of sorts – from the IMF – is in the Far East Financial District. She’s called Satou, she liked lollipops (and to eat in general), and is investigating Yoga, Mida’s banks newest Entre.
Meanwhile, Yoga visits his aunt, who shows him his father’s lifebox (my term, not the shows – a lifebox is a storytelling device that efficiently helps the audience learn about a person or their past). His diary only contains numbers…and a drawing of the design on a Midas bill. Yup, his dad was an entre too, and it’s the reason he abandoned his wife and Yoga. This sends Yoga into a brief angsting session (even drawing his hood over his face so he can cry angsty tears).
But Mikuni sets him straight: he believes Yoga wishing for a normal, predictable life is the same as Mikuni’s father operated: solely for one’s own sake. Yoga’s dad fought and earned in the District for the sake of his family. He sacrificed his normal life so that Yoga could have one. Mikuni strives to earn for the greater good. When one makes money and spends it, others benefit from the spending. Saving only helps the saver (this is not exactly ironclad economic theory, but whatevs.)
Honestly, with their almost identical eye and hair color, I suspected Mikuni could have been Yoga’s father, but Yoga’s deal opponent at the end could be his father. Whoever Yoga’s father turns out to be, or was, if he’s dead, Yoga has the classic “go in his footsteps” or “step out of his shadow” choice to make. Meanwhile, Satou and the IMF are concerned about the Midas money flowing into reality…but fear stopping that flow carelessly could have dire consequences, financial or otherwise. Rating: 4
This week focuses on Blue Rose, or Karina, who as it turns out is a teenager who lives with her doting mom and taciturn dad. It’s also about why heroes honestly fight. Tiger is nonhesitant with his response: he does it because he loves saving people, and that’s all. But blue rose loves to sing and wants everyone to hear her. She’s become a reluctant hero; distracted by her true dream: to sing.
Karina won’t listen to Kotetsu’s lecturing at first; constantly bringing up his lack of points as evidence of his lameness. But Tiger isn’t all talk. He truly isn’t interested in acknowledgement. We’ve seen this so far this series as he’s saved the day and gotten either criticized or ignored. He doesn’t care; he got to save lives, and that’s enough. Rose, Barnaby, they’re after reward. They love acknowlegement. Perhaps they need it. But they may never be as satisfied and at peace as Kotetsu.
Incidently, I really enjoy the camaraderie and banter between heroes while on duty, as well as their casual, friendly interaction while off duty at their training facility. It’s good to show everyone as ordinary people now and then, and particularly Blue Rose, who is so done up in her get-up, she looks like a different person. There’s also a nice scene where Karina realizes that singing in bars won’t get her acknowledged any more than lifesaving. She can decide what to do, but she doesn’t get to decide how the people love her…or indeed whether they acknowledge her at all. Rating: 3.5