Not too much change here, really. C continues to be a fascinating intellectual exercise that isn’t quite connecting as a dramatic venture. But there was some progress on that front, as the story of Kimimaro’s teacher packed more emotional punch in half an episode than the hero’s has in four.
I don’t know why it wasn’t so obvious to me before – it’s not like it hasn’t been pointed out elsewhere – but this really is “Pokemon for grown-ups”. To be sure, it isn’t cute l’il creatures at stake in the battles but lots of cash and “futures” – and for the first time we have an idea of the true consequences of that – but the format is basically the same. Q, Sleeping Beauty, Mashu – they’re all basically Pikachu, Squirtle and all the rest.
Ash Kimimaro gets a taste of what a victory for him means this week in probably the series’ best dramatic moment thus far. In defeating his sensei (through Mikuni’s interference) he bankrupts him. Sensei is at college the next day, but when he and Kimimaro visit his house afterwards, Sensei’s kids – two toddlers and one still in the oven – are gone. Only the teacher and Kimimaro remember them at all. We now have a pretty good idea what that whole “future as collateral” thing is about – and why so many bankrupt players commit suicide. It raises the inevitable question – just what did Kimimaro’s father lose?
Against this backdrop the fascinating politics of the Financial District come into focus. Mikuni’s game is to acquire wealth and power to his group, the Starling Guild – and to use that power to minimize impact on the real world by reducing the amount players win and lose in deals. Thus, Mikuni doesn’t bankrupt his vanquished rivals – he just narrowly defeats them and pockets a little cash. He’s already gathered about a third of the wealth in the FD to his camp. But his goals would seem to me to be in conflict with the interests of Masakaki and whoever is really running the show here – I would guess the real “profit” for them comes in collecting futures.
Part of the reason the show isn’t more gripping is that the supporting cast is more interesting than the lead. Kimimaro is pretty much a cipher at this point – a nice kid, but incapable of fighting for himself or making a decision. He’s apparently resolved to join Mikuni’s cause now, which will presumably lead to him developing his own skills and hopefully becoming more interesting at the heart of the story.