July 8, 2009

Kaze No Yojimbo #12: The Echo

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)


When lovably bumbling goon Raccoon is given a gun by his Ginzame bosses and told to break into the home of opposing leader Tanokura so as to procure maps of the mines where treasure may be hidden, he fucks things up with his usual lack of grace and goes to George for help. Aside from it being ridiculous that he, of all people, would be entrusted with such a delicate mission, it's good to see Raccoon get the spotlight for another ep. He's the type of character who could be annoying, but there's just such a great air about him, the sense that he's a genuinely good fellow who's fallen in with the wrong crowd, and his boisterous hero-worshipping of George is hilarious.

And then there's Miyuki, the teenage daughter of Tanokura whose worship of George is more that of adolescent infatuation. I really have to applaud the writers for making these two oddballs into George's main teammates, and the scenes between the two of them are snappy and sharp and definitely stand as the show's greatest strength. There's even the sense that, if I may offer a prediction, the two will still stay friends once George finishes his business and heads out of town, thus forming a solid bridge between the two factions.

And props for some additional backstory on Raccoon's part. It may seem a bit of a contrivance to also give him ties to the mysterious train robbery from 15 years back, but it's handled with great skill and gives depth to a phobia that's haunted the thug since.

I almost want to say the plot of this ep was disposable, what with Miyuki running off to see George, causing a reactionary secretary of her father to declare her kidnapped and sending an army of goons to take our hero down, but unlike the other standalones, this was intricately tied to the central characters and conflicts that have been brewing and, while it doesn't really further the plot much, it gives us some extra bits of back story and helps lay further foundations between George and his main pair of sidekicks. And it's worth mentioning that the inevitable fight sequences is much more nicely choreographed and animated than the lame, choppy ones we've seen up till now.

I really must say, the show has picked up well over the last three episodes. I've finally been hooked, intrigued, and, most importantly of all, entertained. Here's hoping they keep it down this road without crashing off into a ditch.

(series trailer)

(opening titles)

(anime news network)
(internet movie database)

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