Level E – 10

The long awaited return of Tsutsui-kun is this week, and it doesn’t disappoint. This time we get to meet the rest of his team as well. I was wondering how they were going to be worked back into the plot, but I must confess the premise took me by surprise.

The idea was supposedly based on a true story of a British man who was trapped in his daughter’s subconscious, when she basically teleported him out of existence and into her mind at a moment of extreme stress. I’ve never heard of this story myself, but it’s an interesting notion as applied here. Yukitaka and the boys are on a bus bound for their prefectural tournament final when it disappears from existence – we know this because one of their Dogisian baseball groupies was following on his bike. Also following – this time hidden in the luggage compartment – was Prince Baka, to “cheer on” Yukitaka supposedly but obviously to annoy him more than anything else.

The bus ends up in Koshien Stadium – but it’s a strange Koshien Stadium, with no fans, no city noise (it’s in the heart of Kobe) and the locker room from the local ballpark. Prince Baka and Kraft’s crew (investigating from back in reality) reach the same conclusion independently – they’ve been transported inside the mind of one of the players, and the wold they inhabit consists only of elements he’s experience or imagined. It’s a fascinating notion, and very much in the “Twilight Zone” mode for Level E. The trick of course is figuring out who the dreamer is, and figuring out a way to relieve their stress enough to get the team back to reality – though Baka takes time to torture Yukitaka and Kraft dreams of a way to rescue the boys while leaving Ouji stranded in the Twilight Zone.

What’s really interesting – and typical of this belligerently unconventional show – is that we never really find out exactly what happens. We know one of the boys showed up at the station by himself, and the team is in the middle of playing the Koshien final against the national favorites in the fantasy world, and then all of a sudden they’re back in reality – on the field at the regional championships. It’s hinted that the idiot captain was the one who transported the others, which was my suspicion based on the dream version’s cocky and stupid behavior, but there also a suggestion that Kraft somehow found a way to rescue the others and leave Ouji stranded (which is where we leave him). It’s a sort of troll of the audience – yet again – but yet again my response is not anger but “Please Sir, may I have another?” It’s fun to be tricked, at least the way this show does it. Why it works? Well – the trick is never the same from week to week – and sometimes the trick is that there’s no trick at all, like last week’s wrap of the Color Rangers arc. Any show that manages to be interesting and unpredictable is worth watching, and this one is definitely both.

Next week – looks like we get the meet Prince Baka’s family – his younger brother and his fiancee, anyway. That should prove most interesting.

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