July 7, 2009

Kaze No Yojimbo #11: Lurking in the Gloom

2001 episode
directed by Hayato Date
written by Katsuyuki Sumisawa, Akatsuki Yamatoya, Michiko Yokote
based on the film YOJIMBO by Akira Kurosawa and Ryuzo Kikushima

(1961 film)


Can it be? Is it even remotely possible that this series, which I've largely discarded as a stumbling waste of poorly executed missed opportunities, may actually bet getting halfway decent? With the last episode, things started coming around from a train of worthless stand-alone "plots", narrowing our focused to forces in the town which are starting to move into position for a big collision. With today's episode, we take another thankful step forward.

A few episodes back, a piercing, unnamed man with a pencil-thin moustache paid a visit to Tanokura, leader of the old-blood faction of town. While the execution was terribly lethargic, there was some good info in there about a train car full of gold that went missing 15 years back (on the very same day George met the friend he's now trying to find), and questions start to rise about why Tanokura is so eager to keep people away from the old family mines, which he claims have run dry. Well, the plot thickens as that same man shows up, this time heading to the new-blood faction of the Ginzame cartel, and things play out a bit differently.

For as long as we've known him, local Ginzame head Samekichi Shirogane has been a sharp, cooly sadistic bastard of a criminal, but one look at the visitor has him sputtering through an embarrassed sweat. Turns out this mustachioed man (still unnamed, though referred to as Sensei) is one of the top lieutenants in the broader Ginzame chain, and he isn't too pleased at how things have been playing out, what with Shirogane losing the casino train and being unable to persuade the police against fully siding with Tanokura. They stumble for an excuse, some element that caused everything to unravel, something they can focus all their blame and attention on.

Cut to our vagrant hero, George, completely unaware of just how deep he's fallen into things. While I still wish his involvement with the gangs could have been much more proactive on his part, with him being the driving force beyond their collapse instead of just some random spectator, I like that everything is starting to pull together, forcing him into a position where he'll have to act or run.

And in a separate plot thread, George has once again set his sights on inn-keeper Sanae. Noticing she has her own shotgun and belongs to a hunting club, George starts to wonder if the unseen sniper who attacked him near the beginning of the series and this woman whose past he's been digging into so deeply may possibly just be one and the same. Unfortunately, there's the promise of a major confrontation between the two, but they keep dancing around the issue in a bluntly subtle (that should be an oxymoron, but they somehow make it exist) date of sorts that ends in some close moments that are more awkward than touching.

So, no, the series hasn't made a miraculous comeback to full perfection, but it is on the right track to being something moderately worthwhile. If they can just keep the focus on the central story and the characters without visually experimenting beyond their budgetary means or veering off to senseless standalone stories that further hold back an already dragging series, then they just may have something here. We'll see.

(series trailer)

(opening titles)

(anime news network)
(internet movie database)

No comments: