Sakamoto desu ga? – 10
After a detour into genuinely disturbing territory, Sakamoto desu ga? returns to safer and more comfortable ground this week with a pair of chapters that slot right into the series’ sweet spot. First off we have a story that definitely plays into the Sakamoto conspiracy theories big-time, though it starts out innocently enough – Sakomoto is directing traffic on Christmas Eve (to avoid too many people crowding into a 5 square meter space, obviously) when a couple of college guys enlist him as a last-minute replacement for the third dude who was supposed to attend their mixer, figuring a cool-looking high school would walk the line between too attractive and too lame.
Now, Sakamoto’s interest in attending so as to better understand the human social condition (that’s certainly how the guys sell him on the idea) seems natural enough. But is it really so simple? Yeah, a high schooler would likely be interested in learning about how adults (I use the term loosely) mix it up – but so would a… In any event this is comic gold, starting with the arrival of the plastic hippo – a Japanese game with which I’m not familiar – which leads the girls to conclude Sakanoto is an “M” (for Mary). It’s interesting to see Sakamoto in a mode where he’s not immediately in his element, or recognized as the coolest person in the room. But by the time he begins a carbonation-enhanced rendition of Schubert’s take on Goethe’s poem Der Erlkönig (“The Elf King” – about a child who’s murdered by faerie creatures) the deal has pretty much been closed.
The second part gives us a look inside the life of Hayabusa-kun, who has three younger siblings and a widowed father. When that father asks 8823 to join him at a French restaurant to meet the woman he’s trying to convince to marry him and pretend to be a trust fund brat, the banchou begs Sakamoto-kun to tutor him on the ways of the bourgeois, Sakamoto instead suggests a truly ludicrous plan involving a size LL jacket. Apparently the theory being that a woman will be fine with a stepson with four legs and a hunchback as long as he has good table manners. But it works – that is, till the woman turns out to be an extortionist who buys the act a little too much. Hard to believe Sakamoto wouldn’t have taken the field in that fight without 8823-kun’s help, but unlike Sakamoto, that sort of thing is really all Hayabusa has going for him so it was rather gracious of Sakamoto to let that dog have his day…
Koutetsujou no Kabaneri – 10
My hopes for a massive bloodbath in Mayoiga have thus far proved sadly unmet, but this week Koutetsujou no Kabaneri did its best to help fill the void. Blood was rather the theme of this entire episode, in fact, with the inhabitants of the Koutetsujou being turned into a collective blood bank to feed Biba’s army of hungry kabane. You know these guys are bad because Araki-sensei made sure we saw them being extremely cruel just to get their rocks off.
More and more this is taking on the air of a prequel season, a cour meant to set up a second that will explain what’s actually been going on with the kabane and why they exist. For now Biba and his legion of terror are the main focus of the conflict. He’s blackmailing Ayame into helping him get close to his father, Ikuma is caged like a rat, and Sukari is posing as a collaborator in order to pass info to Ikoma. A plan to revolt against Biba is hatched, but there’s never much sense that it’s going to work – the balance of power on this train has always been pretty lopsided in his favor.
I don’t doubt that Biba has reason to be pissed, given that his father sent him to lead an army into battle with the kabane in Kyushu when he was only 12 and then left that army to be wiped out (for reasons not yet made clear). But the guy is sipping the villain Kool-air hard now, right down to his plans for turning Mumei into a black cloud after she refuses his order to slaughter the koutetsujou. It’s obvious that things are headed in a bad direction, and the carnage begins with Takumi cashing in all those death flag chips he’d been tossing around. Mumei (drugged) seems to off Ikoma too, but I’m pretty sure that didn’t take (less sure if the arm will grow back) and he’s going to pop up next week at a moment very inconvenient for Biba.