Episode 09 – “The Hakone Mountain Night Battle”
Our honorary guests from the Special Region spend the night in the company of Itami’s ex-wife Risa and enjoy their second day in Japan by perusing the many cultural sites the wonderful country has to offer. Naturally, the majority of the group make a trek to Akihabara, while Pinya and Bozes indulge in a little high brow art. Rory, Tuka, and Lelei score some nice casual clothes, but thanks to an unfruitful quest for boys’ love, Pinya and Bozes are stuck with their traditional garb, which is a shame because I really think they could use a change in attire, if only to blend in with the natives a little better.
I like a good hot spring diversion has much as the next guy, but as I’ve said a million times by now, I’ve been looking forward to this mixing of cultures since the beginning, and I’m a little disappointed that we’ve seen relatively little of the girls’ foray into Japan outside of brief montages. We even miss the surely amusing catastrophe that occurred thanks to all of the alcohol consumption. Although, this makes me wonder if Pinya had any to drink because that would be illegal considering she’s 19 and the drinking age in Japan is 20. These are the kind of important questions that will go forever unanswered.
As for the political side of the plot, there’s a lot of story that is interspersed throughout the hot spring fun, which is great for levity and tempo but not so great for coherence. Like the beginning of the series with Rory and Lelei joining Itami’s ranks, I felt like I needed a little more context for the scenes here, between the US President and the Japanese Prime Minister. While we already knew that Japan was in a dire situation thanks to their access to the Special Region, but the way the Prime Minister relinquishes his power so suddenly doesn’t sit very well with me. I feel like I need a little more justification behind his actions, other than a little pressure from the US President.
What I really DID like from this episode was the development of Itami’s character through Risa. Last week, I discussed how his straightforwardness makes him a likable protagonist, but here, it’s that same attitude that creates distance between him and Risa, and it’s this side of Itami that ultimately causes their divorce. Risa mentions that she’s happier this way, but is there a possibility that they could end up back together? That’s a romantic development that I think would be very interesting to see play out in the future.
“He didn’t understand anything. Not how I felt, or how any of the people around him felt.” ~ Risa Itami