The Millionaire Detective – Balance: UNLIMITED – 03 – Shinkansen Standoff

I’m a week behind, but I finally got around to watching the continuation of one of the most promising, quality anime of the Covid-shortened Spring season, Balance: UNLIMITED. And I’m happy to report it’s just as solid, though this episode wasn’t quite as flashy as the first two. That said, I’m glad we get to meet Daisuke’s gran, one of the few people who can put him in his place.

When she tells him to accept his senpai Haru’s coaching, Daisuke has no choice but to comply. On the way back to Tokyo via Shinkansen, Haru finds himself sitting next to an unassuming-looking hungry college dropout, and gives him his onigiri.

Haru figures he has this guy pegged, but upon reaching Tokyo the platform is suddenly evacuated due to a standoff: that same mild-mannered seeming kid has a woman at gunpoint and is streaming the standoff live on “ChainTube”. We learn from bystanders that whoever scores ten million views in one day will earn 100 million “coins”, which is presumably a lot.

While Haru is first on the scene to to being a passenger, the First Division unceremoniously shoos him off. We flash back to a bank robbery in which he shot and killed a civilian who had pulled a gun on him after he shot the robber. While the First Division and his former partner don’t trust him anymore, Daisuke has no such compunctions, and in fact is obligated to follow Haru’s lead, having promised his grandmother.

Haru’s objective is to resolve the standoff without anyone dying, and Daisuke has the resources to put them in the best possible position to achieve it. That includes smoke rockets fired from the boot of his Bentley, a laser capable of cutting through the train’s windshield, the perp’s email records…and a gun, which the police Chief says he must use to shoot the perp if he gets a clear shot.

Once again Daisuke’s resources enable another way: having earlier asked his AI to provide info on the hostages in the car, he learns they’re a fan club for a male vocal quartet. Seeing their farewell concert is a matter for which they’re willing to risk their lives, something the young perp didn’t count on.

So Daisuke has the group choppered in to perform a quick impromptu show the group of fans can watch from within the train. The fans bum rush the perp, who loses the gun, only for the fan everyone thought he shot (but was just playing possum) knocks another gun into his hands.

Daisuke calmly approaches the perp and gets him to stand down with a promise to pay for his sister’s surgery—the money for which he was live-streaming the standoff. When Haru asks him how he knew the kid wouldn’t shoot, I was ready for Daisuke to say “My suit is bulletproof.” It probably is, but the real reason is that Haru told him it wasn’t in the kid to kill, and following his gran’s directive, trusted in his senpai.

Classroom Crisis – 01 (First Impressions)

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Rundown:  On the terraformed Martian colony of Fourth Tokyo, the principled Sera Kaito is the homeroom teacher of an elite advanced technology development (A-TEC) class, which consists of eight students including his sister Mizuki. When their incoming new transfer student is taken hostage by disgruntled asteroid miners, Kaito comes up with a plan to save him in time using the class’s experimental X-2 spacecraft.

The class’s ace pilot Shirasaki Iris takes off in the X-2, which Kaito meant to pilot, and makes it in  time, but the hostage, Kiryu Nagisa, already released himself. Back in the classroom, he scolds Mizuki and the program’s persistent waste of company resources, and announces he was sent to downsize and dismantle A-TEC.

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Let’s start with The Bad:  This episode takes its sweet time unveiling the titular “crisis” (in fact, it’s the last line in the episode), as well as revealing that everything we’re watching is happening on a terraformed Martian colony. Which begs the question: Why? This is a slice-of-life/underdog story that just happens to take place in space, but it could have easily taken place on present-day Earth, with an experimental plane instead of spacecraft.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with the setting; it just seemed superfluous. I’m sure Hannah would agree with me after watching something like Sidonia: If you’re going for a space setting, go hardCC’s space action was simplistic to the point of ho-hum-dom: Girl flies plane while everyone else watches. And other than her and the somewhat generically nice teacher, no other characters (and there were plenty of ’em) distinguished themselves.

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Now for The Good: While it felt like it took forever, I actually didn’t mind the sneaky slow burn to the revelation this is a much more exciting setting than the blue skies and plain classroom indicated. I also liked the no-nonsense Iris taking the initiative to resolve this week’s hostage crisis.

I also liked the idea of generational kaizen, or continuous improvement, of the human race. They’ve colonize the solar system, but they’re neither satisfied or done there; they want outer space. Sera Kaito was once one of the students in the A-TEC class, and now he’s teaching them, so some of them can teach students when they’re where he is. All the while, the principles of “modesty, loyalty, honesty” and “safety first” are ingrained in all the students.

Iris may not think of her own safety (or, indeed, the potential costs of the rescue mission versus abandoning Kiryu), but she does think of people first, as in people over money. If humanity is to attempt a march across the stars, pinching pennies isn’t the way to do it. I like the challenge of the episode’s final exchange: Here’s someone who is primarily with the financial health of the company, about to shake things up in a program where money has never been a concern, and has been the better for it. Whose will will prevail?

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Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S – 01

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Misaka, Saten, Shirai and Uihari visit the hospital with Haruue Erii to visit a recovering Banri. At the same hospital, Antiskill is holding a “radical wannabe” leader. His friends break him out and they get to the roof with Erii as their hostage, but Misaka rescues her and then deals with them with assists from Saten and Shirai.

So here we are, back in Academy City with the whole gang. Unlike Index, Misaka is the lead character, but there’s so many other characters from the other three series plus specials that the episode couldn’t possibly get to them all (much like Game of Thrones). And Misaka is still her ordinary self, using her awesome electrical powers and pluck to protect those weaker than her from baddies, despite not having any law-enforcing authority and much to Shirai’s chagrin. In any case, we’re nicely eased back into the world; it’s like reconnecting with an old friend.

One newbie is Tokiwadai’s “Queen”, Shoukuhou, who has a rather nasty ability to create an army of followers with a remote control and apparent powers of telepathy and hypnosis. But the balance of the show is the girls ending up in the same place as another baddie, one of the girls getting held hostage, and having to deal with it with lots of over-the-top action. Nothing too deep. This series is probably a guilty pleasure, but like Haruhi, if they keep making series, and keep making them well, we’ll keep coming back to watch them.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

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