3-gatsu no Lion – 30

“All you can do is what you can do, one thing at a time.” That’s the advice Hayashida-sensei gives Rei after another consultation about Hina’s predicament. Hayashida is as outraged by the attitude of Hina’s homeroom teacher—and as rearin’ to go give her a piece of his mind—as Rei, but neither of them can.

Hayashida is a total stranger in the matter, while Rei took a path of isolation that won’t work for Hina…though I maintain that his plan of “at least have lots of cash sitting around” isn’t a bad one, though Hayashida is right that the Kawamotos would not easily accept it.

Akari’s emotionless tale of their father’s whereabouts—he left them to start another family—was suitably heartbreaking. But so is the sudden news that his self-appointed rival Nikaidou lost the semifinals in the Newcomer Tournament, and is apparently now too ill to leave his home.

Rei wants answers, so Shimada provides them—by telling Rei the story of how his master took on one more disciple after him: a tiny, round, sickly boy. Shimada dismissed him, as most did, as a pampered rich boy, but in him raged a burning passion the equal of any shogi player, even if he lacked adequate skill to match.

Due to his (undisclosed, incurable) illness, Nikaidou couldn’t have a normal childhood any more than Rei could with the loss of his family and turbulent years with his stepsiblings. But back then, as now, Nikaidou only ever “did what he could do, one thing at a time,” staying in every match until he had nothing left. He was doing it because he could, but also so Rei could have a worthy rival to keep him on his toes.

Now that Rei knows how weak Nikaidou is, one could be forgiven for thinking he’d go easy on him next time. But Rei understands what devoting oneself to shogi means, even if his path to the game was much much different. That understanding demands he show Nikaidou no mercy next time. And hopefully there’ll be a next time.

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Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu – 10

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Tachikawa was a combination of stupid and heroic when she confronted Shimada Hideo alone last week, but the universe isn’t ready to snuff out her candle yet, as she trip-dodges his first blow and tosses the nearest thing at hand — a bottle of paint thinner — that just so happens to give the monster nasty burns and render him unable to morph. Hey, who said fine art is useless!

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That same universe must have determined that it had tortured Shinichi and Satomi enough for the time being, as Shimada’s rampage proves the perfect opportunity for Shinichi to not only play the hero, but mend fences with his sweetheart. Shinichi’s desire to get rid of Shimada himself is another case of his human desire for revenge — combined with the knowledge he has the ability to Do Something — overpowering Migi’s cold logic.

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The ep gives Shinichi and me one last shock when we see a corpse with hair similar to Satomi’s in the hall, but it’s not her. In a vicious beat of dark humor, Shinichi repeats Satomi’s line of “I mistook you for someone else.” The other two students wig out and run right into their deaths, but Shinichi goes into full Get Hitomi To Safety Mode, and damn the consequences of the abilities he exposes.

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Things really escalated fast for Shimada, who was probably going to try to keep the experiment going as long as he could, but the universe wasn’t having it, and in the end he resorted to his killer instincts. A firing squad of pea-shooting cops riddle him with holes before he kills them all. Migi wants Shinichi to leave it to the cops, who will eventually bring something of a larger caliber to bear, but feeling responsible for the Shimada mess to begin with, Shinichi insists on ending him personally.

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He does so…with BASEBALL. The most violent and deadly sport in human history — if a few rules were tweaked a bit, that is. Conceding to Shinichi’s wishes, Migi makes sure this is done right, giving him an awesome muscle monster arm to nail Shimada mortally through the heart from over 300m away.

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The final butcher’s bill? 17 deaths, including students, faculty, and police. But because everyone who saw Shimada in Battle Formation is either among those 17 or scarred from the trauma of the situation, the police and media keep the incident under wraps.

In a big room with a big desk (and a Big Board!), Professor Yui cheerfully briefs the assembled authorities on the nature of the parasites, which he calls “sentient muscle”, and how to detect them: By plucking a hair from the one you suspect. Of course, that assumes it will let you live long enough to pluck the hair and do something about it, which is assuming a lot.

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Still, I guess it’s better than nothing. After a few days, school starts back up (presumably after all the blood was mopped up) and Shinichi runs into a cautious but cordial Murano, who apologizes for not responding to his texts, but thanks him profusely for saving her.

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Shinichi suggests they not dwell on the horrors of the past, and when he does, he doesn’t just mean forgetting about the harrowing bloody experience Satomi just went through, nor the fact he bounded around around like a superhero while she was in his arms. No, he also wants her to forget about all the awful exchanges they had prior to Shimada going postal.

Satomi seems receptive to that arrangement, and just like that, they’re incredibly back on good terms. Just because things went pretty well for Shinichi this week doesn’t mean the trend will continue. But at this point in the show’s 24-episode run, it was nice to see a glimmer of hope that things will turn out okay return, even if that turns out not to be the case at all.

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Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu – 09

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Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu 9 has a rather full plate by the series’ standards. Or maybe I’m just responding to all the little plot elements, which seem less focused than usual?

It’s not like other Parasytes haven’t stolen the spotlight from Shinichi before — both Not-Mom and Ryoko got plenty of camera time, narration, and agenda building — but, for some reason, Shimada Hideo comes off as more significant character. Like we’re going to see a lot of him for a while, because he interacts with many characters, and not just Shinichi?

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Or maybe it felt fragmented and unfocused because Shinichi himself doesn’t really have an agenda? He knows what he is, he knows who his enemies are and what they are capable of, he has a strong understanding with Migi now, and he isn’t even particularly driven to fix his relationship with Maruno or grow another one with Kana.

Basically, he spends the episode running from place to place, exerting his influence and growing physical presence… while every other character we’ve met gets on with more specific, plot advancing activities.

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For example, Shinichi’s dad gets interviewed by FBI types, who explain that the government knows what’s going on, but has no way of identifying the intruders yet. He even agrees not to go public because doing so would accomplish nothing but panic.

Really, by the end of the episode, Shinichi’s dad has come to terms with his wife’s death, alien invaders, and given up drinking (maybe?) to seriously address his son. This is all character growth for him, mind you, as Shinichi is basically locked in Vulcan Mode after his heart-bonding, which isn’t new or news to us at this point.

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If Parasyte 9 is about Shinichi at all it, it’s about how he’s basically good at everything except not acting like a crazy person around Murano. No seriously! He can identify complex social orders with a casual glance, shut down fights without causing damage to his opponents, and generally keep his cool…

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…Except if he’s within earshot of his would-be-girlfriend.

I have to say that, if this show were cut differently, it would make a hilarious comedy about a bat-shit-insane guy who’s finally hit puberty late in high school and the poor girl who used to love him for his innocence!

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Back to the serious stuff at hand, Mitsuo and Hideo keep coming into conflict. Luckily for Mitsuo, Hideo wants to avoid a bloodbath and then, when that’s no longer avoidable, Shinichi intercedes before anything can happen.

Badass super-jumps and punch-stopping aside, Parasyte really sells these scenes through everyone’s reaction to Shinichi. Hideo is totally blown away by Shinichi’s prowess (way beyond what he should even be able to do as a full parasyte) and Yano-san, Mitsuo’s boss, is emotionally shaken more by Shinichi’s gaze and presence than the effectiveness of his blocks.

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On the lesser side of the bad-ass spectrum, we get sanity-deficient Glasses Girl stalking Hideo. She goes from lusting after him to questioning his reality to identifying him as an alien to confirming that with her brother (who draws alien pictures for the government) to…

deciding not to tell anyone about this and confronting Hideo alone in the art room the following morning. What. The. Heck. Is. Wrong. With. Your. Brain??

Of all the plot threads, this was the most ham-fisted.

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However, judging by Parasyte’s pacing, I’m pretty sure Shinichi will save the day quickly next episode, probably without revealing that he too is partially an alien and, with glasses girl’s help, win Murano’s heart and trust back.

Hideo is nice and terrifying though. So…kudos? I guess.

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For some reason, Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu episodes 8 & 9 went live at the same time and I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I didn’t realize this for several minutes. No, really! 9 starts in a bus station with Kana looking through the crowd…just how episode 7 ends!

Ignoring that weirdness, what did I think of the episode? Well… too ambitious and unfocused I think. For goodness sakes! Kana could have used the screen time that was given over to Ryoko’s evil parasyte secret society meeting or Glasses Girl talking to her brother about faces or any of the instances where Shinichi scares the piss out of Murano.

Still good looking, creepy, and original though. So I’m only taking it down a point from last week.

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Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu – 08

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Franklin, sorry if I may have insinuated you were a cold unfeeling insect; I may have gone too far. Not to mention, you ain’t got nothing on Shinichi! Or rather, the New, Improved(?) Shinichi who has taken form in the last couple episodes, the result of the further cementing of him and Migi. The title of this episode is “Freezing Point”, and Shinichi seems to be arriving at his with all due haste.

Granted, there’s still plenty of the “old” Shinichi in there; the one who would take a dying puppy to a quieter place to expire; the warm, kind, humane person Satomi fell for. When she sees Shinichi caring for the puppy, she’s relieved to see that side of him after her initial contact with him was chillier and less “him”. Heck, Satomi pretty much admits she felt “safer” when Shinichi’s kindness was mixed with his former nervousness.

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Then Shinichi instantly burns that just rebuilt bridge by unceremoniously dumping the dead puppy in the trash. That action is harmful enough, but the chilly way he explains his actions to Satomi makes things much worse.

He asks Migi what he said wrong (never a good sign!), and Migi replies that he didn’t say anything wrong per se, it’s just that he sounded like Migi; saying the kinds of horrible things that used to appall Shinichi when Migi said them. His mind’s changed along with his body so much, now he doesn’t even realize when he says the same kind of horrible shit!

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What this boils down to (or rather freezes down to) is that merging more fully with Migi may have given Shinichi amazing gifts, but those gifts are wreaking absolute havoc on his love life, to the point that there may no longer be any hope for him and Satomi. Still, I guess there’s something to be said for that being your biggest problem at the moment, rather than, say, being worried about getting killed by a parasyte.

In fact, this is a relatively action and violence-free episode, and ironically the most dangerous-seeming person for most of the episode is Shinichi himself, as we wonder just how much more he’ll adopt Migi’s behavior. Then a Shimada Hideo shows up and changes all that. Claiming to wish him no harm, Hideo was sent by a preggers Ryouko to ‘observe’ Shinichi, saying their seeking ways to coexist with humans without killing.

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Hideo, like Ryouko and unlike A, is a parasyte to be reasoned with, or is at least sophisticated enough to play along with that notion. But I like the idea that he’s come to the school out in the open as a new transfer student, and proceeds to one-up Shinichi in a number of P.E. activities, as if he’s trying to approximate an ego. He even succeeds in attracting the ladies.

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Shinichi considers what Hideo has said, but just because he’s starting to act more like one of them doesn’t mean he’s ready to trust one. Again, the old Shinichi surfaces as he remembers what a parasyte did to his mother; only now his rage needn’t be internal and stewing; now he has the strength to do something about it.

He wears that moment of rage all too openly on his face, startling an already unsteady Satomi in a moment that had me laughing out loud. Along with the easy alley fight with Mitsuo, the puppy-tossing, and the Hideo pissing gym contest, Shinichi startling Satomi with his RAGE FACE are all examples of this episode’s cheeky but welcome sense of black humor. It lightens the mood at times, but not so much that the serious horror themes are undermined.

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Getting back to the theme of Shinichi now having the absolute worst luck with regards to Satomi, Kana is now essentially stalking him, making use of her latent ability to sense him coming, which she’s taken to believe means they’re soul mates, creating a tidy love triangle Shinichi wants nothing to do with. Even so, his gallant rescue of Kana from Hideo is another example of him doing something he never could have done before without even thinking about it: be a hero.

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Kana can’t just sense Shinichi, but Hideo as well, which means she can detect all parasytes. And thank goodness Shinichi gets to Kana and warns her to stay away from others, or Kana would have met a sticky end. Along with Satomi, Shinichi’s late mother and now his self-medicating father, everyone who has a close bond with him knows something’s very very different. In his dad’s case, he simply can’t comprehend how Shinichi can be so calm and cool about the tragedy that just befell them.

He wonders if Shinichi is “made of steel”, another not-subtle dig at his new status as a hero-in-waiting. And like any superhero worth his salt, Shinichi’s abilities and duty also serve to isolate him from everyone, especially those he loves and who love him. It’s a lonely road, but if he really wants to avenge his mother, he must walk it without fear.

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On second thought, a healthy dose of fear might be called for, after witnessing Hideo change his face to that of a model’s to ‘bait’ a random young woman into following him into a dark alley where he proceeds to eat her. Shinichi did tell him he’d kill him if he harmed anyone…he knew.

Still, Hideo was less than honest with Shinichi, as Shinichi rightly suspected. Unless something else is going on here, and Shinichi’s aggressive attitude towards Hideo goaded him into falling off the human-killing wagon. Whatever the case, Shinichi must continue to keep his friends close…and Hideo closer.

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