Editor’s Note: Editorial apologies for the lateness of this post.
Kagewani -II- #4 – Hunted down and captured by Sarugaku, Bamba is about to be subjected to… a change of clothes and a chance to freshen up after who knows how many months wearing that hoodie. Kimura is even willing to let bygones be bygones if Bamba will just help out with a little incident at a plant that was manufacturing a new drug. And by “new drug”, it turns out he means they were breeding velociraptors, because no one ever has thought in detail about how that could go disastrously wrong.
For readers who weren’t following this column a few months ago, I should explain again what sarugaku actually means. Originally the term for a vaudeville-like form of entertainment popular in medieval Japan, it has survived into modern Japanese with a meaning similar to “monkey business”. (In fact, saru even means “monkey”, hence the Sarugaku logo.) Truly a fine name for an organization that likes mad science this much.
With the noncombatants out of the way, it’s time for an appearance by the title character, which is looking fine and creepy and fluidly animated as ever. This is probably what Kimura was really after– a chance to get some clues as to how Bamba is controlling the kagewani, before grabbing it for himself and disposing of Bamba. Unfortunately for all of the above, the mysterious figure from last time is genre-savvy enough to know that when you find the horror you’ve been hunting for years, the best plan is to stab first and ask questions later. Shame, I would’ve bet on that suit lasting at least a couple more episodes.
Re: ZERO -Starting Life In Another World- #4 – I must admit that one of the things endearing this show to me is that whenever Subaru gets really annoying, it’s soon followed by him experiencing pain or death. He totally deserved that mana drain from Betty.
But, when not being completely annoying, Subaru is a cut above your typical trapped-in-a-JRPG-setting-light-novel hero. He actually has a practical skill or two, and a real interest in learning. I wonder how he came to learn to sew. For that matter, I wonder how someone with this much interest in the world around him became a shut-in, as he was implied to be in the first episode. Besides, anyone who knows how to treat tiny magic cats can’t be all bad.
Someone, however, thinks he’s enough of a threat to murder him in his sleep. Now it looks like he’ll repeat Chapter 2 for another episode or two until he figures out what’s really going on in Roswaal’s household. Was it Roswaal, taking no chances even after one of the maids reported that Subaru is too incompetent to be a spy? Maybe someone else is a spy?
My Hero Academia #4 – After the traditional Hellish Training Montage, it’s time for a traditional Hellish Exam. This one is fairly mild as exams in shōnen stories go, in that they have deliberately set it up to not do more damage than they can repair, and no one goes out of their way to mention the last time someone was inadvertently killed by it.
Secret hidden bonus rules are very much part of the tradition, though. The UA exam has a better justification than usual for them– that the only way to measure actual heroism is to set up a situation where the would-be hero has no direct obvious benefit. (You’d think word would have leaked out by now about the rescue points, though.)
Izuku gets the chance to test out All Might’s power with his first and probably not last rescue of his obvious potential love interest, and she in turn gets to establish herself as moderately awesome (but of course not quite as awesome as the hero). I do hope that when they get a chance to talk about it, Izuku is going to remember to ask Ochako why she suddenly couldn’t levitate that concrete slab off of herself.
Concrete Revolutio #16 – Considering its mission to find every sore spot in Japanese politics, it was only a matter of time before Concrete Revolutio jabbed a finger into the oppression of the Ainu.
The Yamato people (ethnic Japanese) displaced or overran other peoples as they took over the Japanese archipelago, but the Ainu were able to hang onto Hokkaido almost into modern times. There was no serious colonization until the 1500s, and Hokkaido wasn’t fully absorbed into Japan until 1868. But eventually the Ainu culture and language were nearly erased.
The setting for this episode is essentially the 1972 Winter Olympics, which were held in Sapporo, the biggest city on Hokkaido. (The comment at the end about ever holding the games in Tokyo is a nod to the 2020 Summer Olympics being scheduled there, though in our timeline, they were also held there in 1964.) Pirikappi is a stand-in for the lost Ainu traditions, and well, it’s all pretty straightforward for once.
This episode also shows the idea of superhumans being mainstreamed to the point where it’s not considered totally creepy and weird for athletes to get a boost from it. Much like other scientific advances, the rules committees have gone as far as thinking through what they’re willing to allow (advances in nutritional science, for instance) and disallow in the interests of sportsmanship (steroids).
The Lost Village #3 – Many members of the group are so overwhelmed by Yottsun’s (apparent?) death, the disappearance of the previous inhabitants, and the general creepiness of the whole situation that they decide to try to get back to the outside world. Of course this is not going to work. Of course they’re going to wind up going in circles. Of course the guy who everyone somehow managed to forget they were imprisoning and starving is going to escape so he can look menacing in a conveniently placed flash of lightning.
The giant Mitsumune in the railway tunnel, on the other hand. I have no idea where they’re going with that.
Back at the village, the bus driver nearly becomes the second person to wander off in the trees and vanish after thinking he saw his little girl who died ten years ago. This helps explain what might have distracted Yottsun and lured him into the forest, but it may be significant in another way.
You know how I said last week that it would be neat if the bus driver turned out to be the real protagonist? I’m starting to think that’s actually the case. After his rant about young people in the first episode, it’s interesting to find out that his daughter would have been in the same age group at this point if she’d lived. He’s had as much character development so far as nearly everyone else combined.
Before they have a chance to get killed off, I’d also like to salute the nicest, sanest couple on the show– the one pictured above, Jigoku no Gōka (Hellfire) and Nyanta. Not only are they practically the only two people really coping with the sitaution, they’re the only ones able to really bond over a shared interest rather than being forced together or apart by tropes. I’ll really miss them if either dies.