Warning: Contains spoilers!
Without a doubt, this was my favorite Nanbaka episode so far. The images right below are not meant to imply sarcasm!
The very first seconds looked like this:
Oh no! I exclaimed in horror. It did it again. This is going to be a repeat of, you know. (Episode 7)
Completely proving me wrong, the episode showed that second time’s the charm. Since we already found out all of the main story last time, the series was definitely in a reasonable place to do a flashback. No momentum was thwarted in the making of this project. Furthermore, this episode focused on all the main guards and inmates who only ever received a bit of the spotlight (i.e., any main character that’s not Jyugo or Hajime). Storyline is that three of the guards (guy in love with warden, beautiful dude with makeup, and guy who’s always around warden being suspicious) looked after Nico, Rock, and Uno while Hajime was on suspension, one for each day.
I’ve been convinced that the strength of Nanbaka is its comedy–mainly because I’m a sucker for stupid jokes–but here, the comedy was particularly well done: it made these characters, who would never interact with each other otherwise, grow closer together. There was some real bonding happening, folks. They were all doofuses. There was tattling so that everyone would have to undergo Yamato’s excruciating exercise regimen even though they didn’t want to, some despair over not being handsome enough. The timing of each joke was executed quite nicely, better than in past episodes.
This was complemented by some “Aww” moments at the end, when Jyugo and Hajime bond together too, but in a heartwarming, somewhat soapy manner with just a few jokes instead of all-out comedy. And because I felt closer to the other three because of the first part of the episode, the reunion had much more impact than it would have had if they had just jumped right to it. I was moved in a completely different way.
Okay, that’s enough. I can’t really think of anything else to say. The anime just did a complete 180 from the last few weeks. This episode pretty much nailed the balance of serious and comedy. There was just a little bit of story progression, but you get to know much more about the characters that matter than you did before.
I’ll let myself feel satisfied at the moment and end the review here.