Level E – 4

Disclaimer: I think it’s prudent to start every blog post about this series with a spoiler alert until further notice – if you’ve seen it, you know why. You’ve been warned…

With that out of the way, episode 4 was another winner – even if it was a complete left turn from the rest of the series. We were taken away without explanation to a completely different setting and cast of characters, proving that the PV from last week wasn’t a troll. No, that wasn’t a troll…

Our story this week revolved around a gang of four high schoolers from an unidentified school, and not the one Yukitaka attends. One night they’re hanging around in an old barn playing poker and smoking when a girl stumbles in, dazed. She falls down dead and, to the boys’ horror, a young man walks in and proceeds to devour her, flesh and bone.

What follows is a nice traditional horror mystery, borrowing heavily from a “monster of the week” X-Files episode in tone and structure. The boys are terrified, naturally, and do a little investigating on their own. They narrow down the suspects to four boys, but at that point resolve to simply steer clear of those four and try and avoid crossing paths. Just to be safe, they go to visit a friend of theirs who apparently runs a head shop, who for 20000 yen directs them to an even stranger guy in a mysterious clinic in an office building in the city, and tells then to ask for the “Level E” course.

Turns out this “doctor” – or whoever he is, Yumeno, is a actually a kind of alien researcher. After initially spurning his offer to do a full investigation for about 1.5 million yen (to start) they change their tune after two of their number disappear. We get our first plot twist when it turns out the other two didn’t get eaten, but were instead locked away in hiding by Yumeno, having already gone to him for a full service investigation. It doesn’t take him long to figure out the culprit is a classmate named Yammamoto, actually an alien from the planet Cronwell. There, the species reproduces by having the males eat the females – and now, after a war, the planet is destroyed and it’s just Yammamoto, his little brother and father on Earth. Yumeno interrogates the youngest to find out the truth, the whole family disappears, and the boys are left to ponder what happened.

Except – and you knew it was coming – the whole thing turns out to be yet another troll. The Prince spun the whole tale as a kind of movie pitch. I should have been angry (again) but I just laughed (again). This show has mastered the art of never let you feel secure that you really know what you’re seeing. The writing is amazingly clever and the humor – not overused in this episode – is razor sharp. As a stand-along story the mystery worked really well, and it even got capped with a classic 50’s sci-fi moral reflection at the end – “Are we really any different than they are?” While the format was X-Files, the plot itself was really an homage to the classic morality-based science fiction of that era – not least “The Twilight Zone”.

Next week looks like yet another side story – probably another troll as The Prince actually tipped this one off – about five elementary school kids facing off against killer aliens. I’m very curious to see how this is all going to loop back into the main storyline, but given this show there’s no guarantee it will – normal rules don’t seem to apply here. And that’s a good thing.


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