directed by Hayato Date
written by Katsuyuki Sumisawa, Akatsuki Yamatoya, Michiko Yokote
based on the film YOJIMBO by Akira Kurosawa and Ryuzo Kikushima
After three episodes of filler, the last of which was a terrible, worthless piece of fecal spray, the bipolar creative team swings in the opposite direction, diving back into the main story with a gentle, finely made chapter letting us settle back into our characters as events start to reshape around them.
Things aren't going well for Samekichi Shirogane. After losing his casino train in episode #8, he finds that the police have caught wind and are now fully siding with the old-blood Tanokura family, hassling and arresting members of Shirogane's Ginzame cartel for minor discretions, many of which are made up. As his ties and stakes are drifting away, he starts reaching out feelers to see who's still willing to stand by him.
Elsewhere, Miyuki has the day off school and decides to take George out on a date. His regular diner has run out of noodles (great bit with the nasty frozen fish) so he's quick to accept her offer of food, despite the restaurant being located in the territory of her father's enemies. It's a nice sequence and I'm still surprised at how well Miyuki's infatuation plays out, given that such things typically annoy me in shows like this. And props for giving us a moment where she breaks down and reveals all the thoughts and worries hidden behind her bright smile.
I'd really love to know what was going on behind the scenes of this series. It very occasionally shines with touching episodes like this, but often falls into meaningless, empty gloss, and why is it that when the writing takes a huge step up, so does the animation. Everything was smooth and consistent this time, with little bits of business building off the sharp, quietly revealing dialogue. Whereas most of the episodes stumble over their limitations and lack of substance, here the creators managed to triumph over them and make it work quite beautifully.
It's truly strange how inconsistent this series is, but if they can somehow latch onto the strengths they display here and manage not to sink to their previous lows, they could really have something that would make those earlier episodic messes worth while. We'll just have to see.
(anime news network)
(internet movie database)