This series just surpassed itself. This really was a wonderful episode that wasted no time to get to the bottom of its characters, this episode was all about subtle hints at the background of various characters. We learn about how Matsu met Yaichi, and also that Otake knew him for the longest.
But the best thing about this episode was again the interplay between Masa and Yaichi. The way in which Masa tries to find out more about the Masa who never talks about his past was really well portrayed. Especially when Masa hit the nail on the head: Yaichi doesn’t seem to be doing the kidnappings for the money. The way he throws around money… it’s just as if he’s asking for it to run out faster so that he can do another job.
Then consider what Matsu said: he has really changed. Could it be that this change started when he started the kidnappings? Like Ume said, they haven’t done even 10 of them, and Yaichi was already involved with three of them, so they probably started quite recently. Because of whatever caused him to change, he started getting interested in Masa, and doing stuff that wouldn’t really be important contrary to what he would have done when Matsu first met him. Either that, or Matsu always had the wrong image of him: you never hear the other characters talk about his change.
On another note, it’s a shame that even though Noitamina is currently so well written and produced, with Sarai-ya Goyou and Yojou-han, the tv ratings have reached a depth for the series. 1.7%… that’s even less than Kuchuu Buranko. I have a hard time grasping the cause for this, actually. Noitamina has always been a timeslot that was also popular amongst non-anime fans.
It seems that the best-rated shows of the time-slot play in modern settings. There are exceptions, like the early Honey and Clover and Paradise Kiss, which aired when the time-slot was still young, and Hakaba Kitarou (the best rated Noitamina show ever), which made use of its huge nostalgia factor, but Nodame Cantabile, Moyashimon and Hataraki Man all are about down to earth characters that anyone could relate with. The same with Eden of the East and Tokyo Magnitude: it’s very easy to relate to these characters. And I guess that that’s something that Yojou-han and Sarai-ya Goyou do not have: it’s hard for your average person to sympathize with a bunch of kidnappers, or a ridiculously fast talking loser. This trend is probably going to continue for the next summer. And don’t get me wrong, I’m really looking forward to Shiki, but again: it doesn’t look like the mainstream will have much to relate to there either.
It’s interesting how the people in charge of Noitamina don’t seem to be marketing geniuses. And that’s a shame, because Noitamina is such a great timeslot because it has proven that in order to go mainstream, you can also appeal to adults: instead of trying to win viewers with panty-shots and yelling teenagers, it has shown time and time again that anime is also very appealing for adults. While I love Sarai-ya Goyou and Yojou-han, I’m a bit sad that they’re doing so badly in the ratings, defeating the entire purpose of the timeslot. The thing I’m worried about isn’t exactly Noitamina changing, but rather that the ratings will end up in a downwards spiral, causing it to get cancelled. That’s what I’m most afraid of.
Rating: *** (Awesome)