Warning: Contains spoilers!
This week, Nanbaka continued the storyline from episode 6 without even mentioning the transgressions from last time. In case you missed it: after building up the series’s momentum and finally seeming to reveal the main storyline, Nanbaka told us “Too bad” and gave us a background story on one of the side characters instead.
Thanks for acting like nothing happened, Nanbaka. I was still mad the entire first half of this episode. Ugh. I still get angry thinking about it.
The first two-thirds or so of the episode doesn’t give us the answers we’re looking for, but it does delve right into a continuation of episode 6. Jyugo continues to care nothing but finding the man who placed his shackles on him, causing almost the entire arena to evacuate. Jyugo doesn’t even care when his other inmate friends try to restrict him because he’s their friend, and ends up hitting them as well. To suppress him, Hajime ends up pummeling Jyugo to the point where he vomits blood and is sent to the hospital in critical condition. The rest of the episode makes light of the events; Hajime receives a 3-day suspension and is scolded by the inmates, who feel like they were wrong to think of him as their friend.
Okay. I think I’m at the point where nothing in this series really surprises me anymore. The focal point of this episode was extremes in emotion, swinging from “Should you really go THAT far?” to “Why does the aftermath seem so lighthearted?” I’m happy that there’s finally some continuation, but somehow we saw a whole lot of something without actually progressing the narrative.
In other circumstances, I probably would have commended the way Hajime showed absolutely no restraint and mercy while simply battering Jyugo to the ground—there’s a certain beauty in casting away politeness and ethics to reveal a completely new side to a character. Here, though? I’m still getting the feeling that this series is a mish mash of elements that by themselves could have been good but don’t flow well together.
I mean, viewers already knew that Hajime was overpowered, and that he was sort of their friend. Before, it was just to show that he could prevent the inmates from escaping, but now the attitude has shifted. In a sort of expectation reversal, the guard has shown that he’s not much better than prisoners—worse, even. Or maybe the message is that everyone can be subject to such extreme emotions. Unfortunately, at this point I think that’s overanalyzing. To be honest, it was probably there just to hook the viewers’ attention. It might come handy at some point in the series, but given the fact that later on Hajime had a conciliatory moment with the inmates and receive a measly 3-day sentence, which he responded negatively to only because he’s a serious workaholic and can’t work the next few days, I’m not sure Hajime’s potential for overkill will be used as anything more than a crux to progress the storyline by beating out the information from Jyugo—if even that.
The rest of the episode was rather dismissive. Sure, we got to see a backlash from the other inmates who thought Hajime was out of line, but most of it was the guards having some not so serious banter about serious stuff. It may have been the sparkles again, but something felt so off about the lighthearted conversation amongst the guards, who casually talked about the depressing mood of the dining hall as Hajime arrived, face covered in blood–even though I did giggle at it.
Because of this concentration on so many other elements that don’t seem as central to the storyline, my faith in Nanbaka has plummeted even more than it already has. I guess it’s only a few more episodes left. I wish it had just stayed a full-blown comedy, as it could have shined a lot more.