Regrettably, Lupin III wasn’t at its best this week, which leads me to wonder if we’re going to be finishing on a disappointing note. It’s not really a surprise that the Okada-scripted eps should focus on Oscar, as he exemplifies so many of her fetishes. But the issue for me is that he also exemplifies Okada letting those fetishes cloud her better judgment as a writer, which usually ends up looking like Okada writing something to please herself rather than writing something that’s consistent with the source material.
The last couple of Oscar eps have been among the worst in the series, and it certainly doesn’t help that this is exactly the sort of role Kaji Yuuki shouldn’t be allowed within a thousand miles of (he’s much better suited to the role he plays in the second show in this post). I don’t think Oscar would work dramatically even if played by a good actor, but he certainly doesn’t in the vocal chords of someone as ham-handed with drama as Kaji-san. We also have an episode that indulges the penchant for extreme silliness – even by “Lupin” standards – that’s often the problem when this generally quite good series goes off the rails. The premise of this arc was sort of interesting when it focused on Fujiko’s childhood and Count Yermied – even if it was largely unintelligible, it was unintelligible in an interesting way. But this business about Oscar impersonating Fujiko and turning into a psychopathic mass murderer felt like it was cobbled together so Okada could indulge herself, and the series suffers for it.
Well, hopefully Oscar is well and truly dead – that would at least free the series to finish up with the characters that showcase the otherwise excellent cast at its best. Goemon taking in Fujiko is an interesting turn, and fits in much more naturally with the way the series has progressed up to this point. As Fujiko is actually a MacGuffin posing as a main character, it only makes sense that everyone’s interests should converge around her at the end – Lupin and Goemon’s are obvious enough (the calling card on the thigh and true love, respectively) but I’ll be interested in seeing how Okada and Satou tie Jigen back into this at the end (assuming they do).
Accel World – 10
Looks like Accel World is definitely clear of its funk, because the one week-delayed episode 10 continues the strong run the series has been one for a while. I thought at first it was a little bit on the talky side – and let’s face it, this is one of the talkier shows out there anyway – but in the end it was all good since the talk led somewhere interesting.
As I said in my last post, Scarlet Rain has been a big part of the solution. Yeah, she’s a trope, but a darn good example of how this one should be done. I love the Jekyll/Hyde nature of her personality and facial expressions – she’s like a tsundere on speed – and more importantly, the dynamic when she’s around Haru and Kuoryukihime is considerably more interesting than when she isn’t.
There was an almost philosophical bent to some of the material this week, and not for the first time. I think the fundamental question of whether Snow Black is right in wanting to bust up the safe mediocrity of the Level Nine linkers is at the heart of what AW is (I happen to believe she is right) and it was fascinating to hear Haru and Niko discuss the topic. I think Kawahara-sensei makes his own position pretty clear here, both through Niko’s grudging admiration of Snow Black and through Haru’s speech about how most MMORPGs end not with a bang, but a whimper. Yes, there’s risk – as Niko says, nobody is really sure what’s going to happen when someone reaches Level 10 – but I think the covenant of the game requires the players to at least try and get there, if they want to be true to the founder’s wishes. For now, the other leaders are merely protecting their own addiction to the Accel World.
Apparently the real Chrome Disaster is a little kid just like Scarlet Rain, and he likes to do his hunting in Ikebukuro (just like countless otome) which leads Kuroyukihime, Niko and Taku to finally show Haru the “real” Accel World – the world of the unlimited burst. It exists alongside RL, and offers no time limits – theoretically a Linker could stay in there indefinitely, their mind aging even as their RL body didn’t. Most interestingly for me, it also acts as a kind of reverse-demilitarized zone. It’s the one place where the non-aggression treaty doesn’t exist and high-level Linkers are free to hunt and fight each other, gaining valuable points in the process. And this appears to have been crucial to the plan of Yellow Radio, King of the Yellow Legion – using Chrome Disaster to lure the others into the Unlimited Burst world and kill them. It makes sense if you consider it – after all, level nine Linkers would surely be very reluctant to enter the U.B. world under normal circumstances and put themselves at risk.
There were some other seeds planted here too, like the fact that Snow Black’s Guardian is now her moral enemy, and the possibility of Chiyuri becoming a Linker herself. All in all I’m more interested in what happens next in this show than I have been in quite a while, which is a very good sign for a two-cour series.