June 16, 2009

Kaze No Yojimbo #8: The Casino Train

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

(1961 film)


Every month, the Ginzame cartel invites the local yakuza to enjoy an all-night gambling spree on a rail-bound casino free from the threat of police raids. The previous owners of the train, the Hatsushiba, are eager to get it back so they bring their top card-shark, Kuroki, to break the bank. Fearing this possibility, Ginzame head Samekichi Shirogane enlists the talents of George.

While they managed to eek some suspense out of the tired story in their typically clunky fashion, this episode was yet another in a long chain of misfires for the series. George being there is a complete coincidence as Shirogane doesn't even realize the man's gambling skills until it's too late, so why was he invited on the train in the first place? He's been jumping from side to side, quitting jobs on a whim, so revealing a chunk of the cartel's underground operations to him makes no sense.

And the entire episode means nothing. What does this struggle with a new cast of goons have to do with the broader investigation into the town? Likely, nothing. Just as it has absolutely nothing to do with the broader theme that's been largely absent, namely George pitting the sides against one another. Here, when you've got all the thugs in cramped, tight quarters, would have been a perfect opportunity to start triggering major conflicts between them. But, no, yet another opportunity is lost by a creative team that obviously has no idea where it was they were supposed to be going.

(series trailer)

(opening titles)

(anime news network)
(internet movie database)

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