Warning: Contains spoilers!
This episode, we find out through flashbacks how Jyugo has positively affected the lives of Rock and Nico. The inmates have also begun to receive their desired prizes (read: anything they wanted) from winning the New Year’s tournament. Rock wanted a brick oven for making pizza and other good stuff, while Nico received an entire arcade for all of his gaming needs. The folks who fought against Rock and Nico return, and everyone has a good time. Cue the slight twist at the end where fire-throwing guy is asked to reveal his past to the other guard.
The first quarter or so involving Rock was pretty good. The second part involving Nico was really boring. I couldn’t quite pay attention, so I ended up reading other people’s blog posts and my social media feed while watching.
I get it—this episode provided some actual interaction between the inmates, even side characters, but it’s the second to last episode, and this really should have happened a while ago. The most interesting parts of the episodes were definitely the flashbacks, since I felt that we finally got to actually see why these people were convicted, and why they might all look up to Jyugo as their leader. His position amongst the inmates has been heavily implied since probably episode 1, and this has never been explained until now. There were also some little details that slipped out, like how Rock was a rich boy or how Nico can’t read even though he absolutely adores manga, which helped flesh everyone out.
Another way to look at it is that since the episode involves a lot of just hanging out, the episode is winding down in preparation for a relaxed finale. I’ve heard that this series will be continuing onto another season come January, and this is simply tying some loose strings before the hunt for “the man with the scar” begins next time around. It also shows how Jyugo, a guy who doesn’t care about himself, has ironically caused others to really care about him. Nice attempt at contrast, but it somehow falls flat because Nanbaka, as usual, kept shifting tones from dark to heartwarming to comedy and back. The jokes this time around fell flat, too.
The episode unfortunately raises even more questions. Why do both flashbacks involve Jyugo breaking people out of their chains? Did he go around just doing that for everybody? Why would you build an entire arcade for a prisoner when he just asked for a game system? Who’s funding this thing? Mmm. I don’t think there’s ever going to be an answer to that last one.
I guess the next episode will show Uno and Jyugo’s relationship and possibly something between him and guards.