Episode 4: The Road Of No Return

I’ve said before that the most consistent and interesting aesthetic elements of this show have been the battle scenes. They shift to a pseudo-letterbox look, and the animation gains a fluidity of movement and seriousness of design that the rest of the show lacks (or doesn’t need). You could even look at these scenes as a sort of creative crutch – the show needs energy? Throw in a cool fight scene.

Well, they abandoned that formula with this episode. After the first half of the show, we hear with deadly thuds the same things we’ve heard before: Jiyu doesn’t want to be Jubei, the Shinkage school wants to get rid of Jiyu, and on and on and on until you want the old fork in the eye. Most of this episode is lame jokes (why are those two monkey ruffians so confused that Shiro calls his mom ‘Mama’?), long and boring exposition, and really lame jokes.

The one that really falls flat is this episode’s swordsman, Tenchi Muyonosake. I guess he’s named after Tenchi Masaki from Tenchi Muyo, but the reference doesn’t go anywhere. The character is also intentionally poorly drawn, which isn’t nearly as funny as it seems the producers thought it was. And the fight scene is chintzy.

So, here you have it. A complete washout of an episode, where nothing very interesting happens. The lead-footed exposition crushes the comic potential some of the material might have had, and it’s the problem that the obligatory anime story arc introduces. If there were less story to push ahead with, the individual elements of the show could shine on their own.

There are definitely admirable elements to the show. I think the relationship between Jiyu and her dad is sweet. However, every other relationship has been played for laughs, so when Shiro and Jiyu seem to have a heart to heart, I was waiting for a punchline that did not come. Disappointing, and occasionally boring.
Rating :C

About Kent Conrad

To contact Kent Conrad, email kentc@explodedgoat.com