Oh my god… Tomomi Mochizuki might actually be surpassing himself with this series. Within seven episodes, he managed to put as much meaning into its characters as what Porfy no Nagai Tabi took 26. He’s got such a great sense of realism and character-development, and it also really helps that aside from directing he also did the series composition so that he could really put forth his vision of the manga. And on top of that it’s just awesome to see what a great manga he got to adopt. After having seen two of her stories now I really have to say that she’s a genius at characterization.
This episode again: from the outside the scenario was just about a few mundane tasks: Masa running away from a fight, him starting to train under that other older samurai, etc. From just those sentences it looks like a cheap shounen series, but just about every scene in this show was focused on putting as much meaning as possible in these events. A simple plot of Ume gets a ton of extra side-effects: it was his way of getting Yaichi to pay a visit to Masa. Yaichi knew very much that Ume was lying about Masa’s condition, but went anyway. He knew that he would be recognized, but at the same time he knew that it wouldn’t be that big of a problem since the old man wouldn’t tell much. And yet hints about his past were bound to be dropped here. It’s like he’s getting Masa to learn a bit more about him… but only a bit, nothing too much.
The characters here are nowhere near stupid. They’re very observant about each other. Masa himself knew very well that Yaichi had to have some sort of criminal past, and not just as some rogue bandit. You can really see him trying to get through to Yaichi, whether this is out of admiration, fear or something else still remains a bit of a question. Yaichi on the other hand can really notice Masa’s mood change as he gets to know more about him, and thus more afraid.
At the same time this episode was also very much about Masa’s self-loathing, or perhaps that’s a bit too big of a word. Either way, he’s being held back of an interesting career because of his personality, and knows it. The fight in this episode at which he ran away also really showed that he’s a guy who really keeps clinging to the past. As this is in his case a rather bad past (he had to cope being a samurai with that personality of his), he has a ton of anxieties, especially when alone and there being no reason for him to actually be tough.
This episode also gave a very interesting dimension to the older samurai and the graves he visited. The anecdotes he told about the people he lost were interesting yet down to earth, not to mention that that cliff-hanger was an interesting one. It’s obvious that there can be more dogs called Scruffy, but it is one gnawing cliff-hanger nevertheless.
Rating: *** (Awesome)