July 28, 2009

Kaze No Yojimbo #19: The Sniper

2002 episode
directed by Hayato Date
written by Katsuyuki Sumisawa, Satoru Nishizono, Akatsuki Yamatoya, Daisuke Yajima, Michiko Yokote
based on the film YOJIMBO by Akira Kurosawa and Ryuzo Kikushima

(1961 film)


As our last episode came to a close, the Ginzame cartel's attempts to kidnap old-blood Tanokura from his home were interrupted when police poured out of the woods to confront their mob. After several minutes of swinging clubs and smashing fists, everyone was shocked to a halt as a bullet ripped through the head of Detective Saeki, the only cop unwilling to turn the other way.

This episode begins as everyone starts picking up the pieces. Tanokura and his family is safe, the cops investigate as heavily as their payoffs allow, and it looks like Ginzame got away from the debacle clean. But then Fukajiro, one of the three Shirogane brothers who run the cartel, steps out the next day for a ridiculously exposed morning ritual (which would have worked had they established it earlier as a regular character routine), only to catch another bullet from the same sniper.

Once again, I have to wonder if this creative team actually watched the original movie. One of its greatest elements, the thread that went off and inspired numerous imitators, was the idea of the hero playing both sides as he set them against one another before picking off what's left. Our hero George, while cool, is such a passive drifter that, by episode's end, his single act of manipulation, one we waited over half the series for, has come to bite him in the ass. By contrast, this unknown sniper has scored two kills in as many episodes and already stirred up more conflict and confusion between the groups than George could ever dream of.

Now, to be fair, this complaint is more a reflection of the broader series than a negative aspect of this lone episode. Other then the reckless act of Fukajiro which I mentioned above, this was actually quite a tight, polished little transitional chapter as repercussions sink in, characters are forced to make certain decisions, and George takes a little stroll that, while it doesn't express anything with solid clarity, starts setting in motion certain ideas that would bring all the loose strands together.

We truly are starting to gear up for the end run and it'll be interesting to see how they bring it all to a close.

(series trailer)

(opening titles)

(anime news network)
(internet movie database)

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