Shiro’s friend Mishima forwards him the video of his alleged crime, which took place December 7th at 23:45. With Kuroh short on patience, Shiro attempts to scrape together an alibi, first by asking Kukuri, who was confessed to by Mishima from the clock tower; the student council, which was engaged in operations; and the newspaper club, which took pictures but none of him. At the faculty lounge Shiro secures gate records that indicate he never left the island, but Kukuri mentions he often sneaks out, avoiding such systems.
Kuroh is about to kill him, but the sight of him shielding Neko stays his hand once more, as does Kukuri remembering Shiro was with her less than an hour after the crime, satisfying Kuroh. Shiro goes home, finds bloody clothes in his closet, and has flashes of the murder of Totsuka Tatara he may have committed after all. Yata and Kumamoto pay a visit to Shiro’s school, while SCEPTER 4 has also gotten a fix on him.
Having someone try to kill you every day is exhausting.
When he delivers lines like this, there’s something so wholesome and aw-shucks pure about Shiro that you want to believe he’s innocent of killing Totsuka Tatara and becoming the most wanted man in Tokyo. He also isn’t about to let Neko die protecting him, and stands in front of her in a gesture of honor that just happens to move Kuroh. This whole episode Shiro is desperately struggling to find an alibi, because he too cannot believe he did the deed – only to have the evidence stare him in the face in the end.
Could it have been planted? Certainly. Those garbage robots can certainly be programmed to collect as well as deposit anything. And there’s something fishy about Shiro’s flashback being just the video footage from Tatara’s point of view. Shouldn’t he be remembering what happened from his own perspective? This episode stuck with the Othello Duo (Shiro & Kuro), Neko and Kukuri, and did a bang-up job telling a twisting and undulating story and keeping things moving. But the other factions outside the island are primed to strike. Kuroh may have been appeased, he’s just the first of many deadly hurdles.
Rating: 7 (Very Good)
Mahiro and Yoshino take a bus to the countryside where a Fruit emerges from a mountaintop. Yoshino tries to save an elderly couple and a pair of boys, but they succomb to Black Iron Syndrome along with every living thing in the area. Mahiro breaks into a house and takes a bath. Yoshino cooks dinner while talking to Hakaze about how he met Mahiro – and how he was essentially forced into being his friend, and eventually went along with it. Hakaze also asks Mahiro, who concludes he probably wouldn’t still be around if he’d never met Yoshino.
After lots of action, this episode slows things down and offers up some character building, and it was still great. Yoshino and Mahiro are safe for the moment, but are still living day to day, so there’s not much to do except maintain. Meanwhile, Hakaze, ten time zones away, has little to do on her deserted island. She has time for those stories people deem too long to tell, and Yoshino is happy to let loose. Mahiro was a spoiled, privileged little brat, you see, who one day got hit by a motorcycle while walking home. He just happened to survive, and Mahiro just happened to be chosen to visit him in the hospital, against his will. He’s ultimately dubbed “Mahiro’s Guardian” (complete with name tag), and he runs with it.
But just like the grown-up version, this young Yoshino did his duty without complaint (well, with few complaints), even investigating the accident when Mahiro asks him to (not confident adults would listen) and concluding a disgruntled former employee of his father’s ordered the hit and tried to make it look like an accident. Then as now, Mahiro did what he wanted, because he could, while Yoshino did what he was told, but did it his way. We like how Hakaze gets both sides of the story, but Mahiro’s is so much more succinct – after all, he’s more interested in a future in which he gets revenge than he is in the past that got him to this point. Mahiro, on the other hand, still sees Aika when he closes his eyes.
Rating: 8 (Great)
Renato pleads with Chief Black to call Hex off, warning that Operation Undershaft will be compromised if she kills Jonah. Black gives him Hex’s location, but leaves it up to him. While walking through Praha with Koko, Jonah senses danger, and they’re jumped by two of Hex’s ten men. Jonah is shot with a paralytic drug and can’t move. R confesses to Koko that he’s a spy, but helps her and Jonah escape. He and Hex face off; he misses, but Hex shoots him through the eye. Lutz and Leim take out all of Hex’s men but two, and she retreats. Black visits R’s grave and meets Koko, but then learns Koko used HCLI to track Hex down to Iraq, where the cave she’s hiding in was bombed by a B-52. Black starts seeing ghosts of R and Hex.
Chief Black’s left hand Hex told him Koko was a monster who must be methodically dismantled and destroyed. Chief Black’s right hand Renato told him Koko was nothing but a normal girl beneath her iron mask. The truth is, she’s both. We saw more sides of her this week than perhaps any time in the past, as she faces the prospect of losing Jonah, is told she’s been betrayed by one of her most-trusted bodyguards who taught her how to carry herself, and then loses that bodyguard shortly thereafter. The mask disappears the moment she hears the truth from R. Her viciousness returns when she orders Hex hunted down. And her mask returns for her meeting with Bookman, save a tear she sheds when leaving a bottle of liquor on R’s grave.
In a way, we like how this arc turned out. It didn’t cheat by letting everyone stay alive, or eliminating all threats around Koko and her crew. Hex is dead, but the rather strange scene of Bookman conversing with her and R’s ghosts tells us Bookman remains as dangerous as ever, and he vows to continue “dancing” with Koko “till she screams”, which is just creepy when accompanied by his attempt at dancing. Losing Jonah would have definitely had more impact, though. Koko’s loss of composure is only temporary, and she roars back fast after R’s death. We’re not so sure she’d so quickly forgive someone enough to give them so quick a death as she gave Hex if it were Jonah who was killed – nor do we think she’d forgive herself so quickly.
Rating: 8 (Great)
Car Cameos: The cars that line Praha (Prague) include a Peugeot 406, a BMW 7-Series, and many Mercedes-Benzes: an S-Class and GL-Class, plus Bookman’s CL-Class coupe.