Rurouni Kenshin, Season 2, Disc 5 – “Faces of Evil”
**post by nichan**
I kinda stayed up until 6am, so instead of posting this, I ought to be taking a nap. …But no! I’ve powered up on Chinese take-out! I can do this! (*dramatic power pose*) (*dramatic yawn*)
This is disc 5 of the second season: “Faces of Evil”!
Episode 44: “A Decisive Battle like Violent Waters: The Strongest Troop, Juppongatana”
When last we left Kenshin, he’d just killed Seijuro as part of his training to learn the Amakakeru Ryu no Hirameki. Of course, Kenshin doesn’t handle death very well these days, so… Well, he doesn’t just take this lying down. You didn’t really expect him to, did you?
Meanwhile, there’s the matter of Sano and Hajime, right? Sano kept getting lost on the way to Kyoto, so instead of continuing to struggle, he’d just gotten himself arrested and dragged to the jail under the assumption that he’d eventually cross paths with Hajime. …It works, too! Kinda. Hajime arrives and stumbles over him – only to dryly insist he has no idea who Sano is.
Backing out of the fight before he gets hurt, Chou plays it off like he thinks fighting is “stupid”. Blah, blah, overly-dramatic anime speech… Chou eventually cracks and says what he knows about Shishio’s plans: he’s going to light Kyoto on fire and burn it to the ground. (It’s an idea that ties back to scenes from earlier in the season, and also from “Samurai X”, actually.)
Meanwhile, back at Shishio’s compound, all of the members of the Juppongatana have arrived, including this really creepy blind guy who compensates by covering himself in pictures of eyeballs. Because… Yah. That’s a great way to catch the ladies: eyeball fashion. Added bonus? He accessorizes with a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cape.
Anyhoo, with the whole Juppongatana (sans Chou, that is) in one spot, Shishio announces that things are about to start happening. He sends most of his crew into Kyoto to burn it down, and rounds the rest up for a secret mission. Pep talks are given, cheers are had, the overly dramatic repeating of names occurs as though they don’t all know each other…
Meanwhile, back at Seijuro’s house…
Seijuro tells Kenshin to stop sitting around and get scooting. He’s got Big Important Things to do: stopping Shishio. Kenshin makes one last request of his master, asking that he look after Kaoru, Yahiko, Misao, and the rest. After sarcastically refusing, he finally indirectly agrees. Sort’ve.
Episode 45 – “As if to Fly: Stop the Launch of the Battleship Purgatory!”
Well, so, anyway… Hajime asks Kenshin if he’s ready to become the manslayer once again, and Kenshin replies something like, “We’ll just have to see.” It’s then that Hajime realizes something has changed – our ginger hero has gone through a dramatic transition.
Also, they pour over a map of Kyoto, trying to figure out what Shishio’s really up to. It seems suspicious that they’ve so easily kept possession of Chou, particularly since Chou’s been talking; Hajime finds it peculiar that Shishio hasn’t tried to either break Chou out of jail or kill him. This makes him suspect there’s more to the plot than just lighting stuff on fire. It’s too easy, man! It’s too easy!
After the boys are reunited and the spark of the bromance rekindled (though not entirely – there’s still some tension there), Sano, Kenshin, and Hajime discuss what they have to do to stop Shishio’s plot: put enough cops out in the streets to prevent the impending fires, then speed to Osaka to stop the ship from sailing to Tokyo. (I skimmed over it, but here’s the highlight: Perry had come to Tokyo in black ships and scared the daylights out of the locals; Shishio wants to do the same, then take power in the ensuing chaos.)
Back in Kyoto, the general members of Shishio’s army who have been assigned the task of burning the town to the ground have run into problems. The Juppongatana who’ve remained behind split into two factions: one that decides to stand back and wait, and the other that decides to intervene. The Juppongatana, you see, aren’t really motivated and unified by a strong desire to help Shishio so much as a general agreement that anarchy is awesome. Heck, it seems like half of them want to outright kill Shishio, soooooo… Yah. (Except for the one guy: he doesn’t want to kill Shishio so much as plow him.)
But, back in Osaka…!
Episode 46 – “Purgatory Bursts into Flames: The Destiny of Makoto Shishio”
After discussing how to get to the ship, the three heroes part ways: Hajime goes to one side, Kenshin to the other, and Sano’s left with the task of chucking Katsu’s bombs directly at the Purgatory.
Shishio orders a cannon be shot towards the three, and they use that as the signal to start their attack. So, even with an explosion…
Kenshin proceeds to do one of those weird Kenshin Things, and he and Shishio agree to having a duel at Shishio’s hideout rather than ending it right there on the boat. I suppose the director had something to do with this, because there’s still a bunch of episodes left to the season, and it wouldn’t work if Kenshin just up and killed off the protagonist too early. …So, much to Hajime and Sano’s annoyance, they let Shishio get away, and agree to meet him later at the manor.
After that, Hajime goes his own way to do police stuff, and Sano and Kenshin head back to Misao’s place to meet back up with everybody.
Anyhoo, with everybody in the same place, Kenshin starts getting filled in on everything that’s been going on in his absence – mostly the fight between Aoshi and Okina, and the drama between Usui and Anji over Misao. (It’s then that Sano realizes he’s trained with a member of the Juppongatana…)
Up on the roof, Yahiko yells at Kaoru for not making a move on Kenshin; Kenshin assigns Yahiko the task of helping Kaoru, Misao, and the Oniwaban; Sano tries to con Kaoru and Yahiko into paying off his debts back in Tokyo; and the Oniwaban wish Kenshin and Sano good luck. …That’s a lot of stuff to do in the middle of the night on the roof, really.
Episode 47 – “Crash! The Lethal Punch, Futae no Kiwami: The First of Sonosuke Screams!” (I hope they meant “The Fist of Sanosuke Screams”…)
So… The guy in the coat. I kinda forgot to write down his name, but he annoys me, so I keep trying to ignore him. Anyway, he plays a big part in the opening portion of this episode. He’s decided Shishio’s plan to duel with Kenshin is a weak one, and he insists that things be changed: he says that he himself, Shishio’s girlfriend, Usui, Anji, and Sojiro stay behind with Shishio to duel with Kenshin, and the rest of the Juppongatana be sent to fight the Oniwaban.
Shishio’s kind of a jerk, and he doesn’t take criticism very well…
After this, Shishio sends the Juppongatana off to do whatever it is they do, and then he praises the guy in the coat for taking the fall. He decides to change his plans to the ones the guy in the coat had suggested, and tells the guy in the coat he’s good people. Things feel very Dilbert right here.
Anyhoo, Shishio’s girlfriend is sent out to go collect Hajime, Sano, and Kenshin and lead them into the fortress. While they’re walking, things get very, I dunno, Dragon Ball Z in that they all agree to have one-on-one fights in large rooms with no furniture and no interference, and whoever wins just, you know, wins. It’s absurd.
In the first room waits Anji, and he’s just sitting there chilling out and doing his thing, waiting for whoever is going to battle him. And, predictably, Sano decides to take on the challenge. Hajime, Kenshin, and the girl all stand by and watch as Sano and Anji knock each other around… though Kenshin yells out advice, and Hajime yells out sarcastic remarks.
So! Does Sano beat Anji? Who will battle Usui and Sojiro? What will happen to the Oniwaban? Will the bromance between Sano and Kenshin ever fully recover? Will Kaoru ever take Yahiko’s advice and make a move? What ever happened to Aoshi? Will I actually get the next review up in a timely manner?
Well! You’ll just have to wait for Disc 6 of Season 2: “Blind Justice”!