Episode 5: The Enemy Brought A Memory With Them

Jiyu Nanohana is more sensible than any other character in the show. She approaches life with a strong sense of self, and the fact that she can become the world’s greatest swordswoman by donning a heart-shaped eyepatch doesn’t faze her as much as it should, since she’s not a girl to be fazed by things.

This is shorn up by the complete ridiculousness of the men in her life – antagonists and friends alike. Her dad is insane, her samurai is worthless, the two boys looking to capture her heart are an idiot and an egotist, respectively, and her enemies are all obsessive. Jiyu is the only person able to maintain her head.

It isn’t as obvious when watching the English dub: in English, Jiyu is played more or less as an idiot. When she forgets Shiro’s name, the Japanese actress (Hiroko Konishi, also in “Now And Then, Here And There”) sounds innocent and coy. The English Jiyu just sounds vacant.

This episode is a bit of a break from common fare. At least her teachers aren’t the ones that want to kill Jiyu this time; rather, it is a pair of Japanese warriors who call each other Mick and Francoise. Francoise goes to Jiyu’s house pretending to be an editor seeking a manuscript from Jiyu’s dad, while Mick discovers just where Jubei and her friends are, and sends a threatening note in Portuguese.

Since it isn’t all exposition, “The Enemy Brought A Memory With Them” is funnier than the last couple of episodes. It allows for moments of strangeness (such as the Ruffians and the Bantaro making a conjecture that they are secondary characters because they are drawn so crudely) and funny little details (characters who, in later episodes, are together and start looking at each other in surreptitious ways), and altogether it shows that ensemble humor is the show’s strength. The scenes with Koinosuke and Francois, when the latter tries to steal the lovely eyepatch, are deadly dull – later scenes with a ton of characters are much funnier.

Jubei-chan is not a precision show. The humor is not Wildeian wit or subtle jabs – it is a cartoon. So when it cuts loose like a cartoon should, it is very funny. The overdependence on plot and the tendency (present in all anime) to become as serious as a Russian novel is what shoots the show in the face.

There are signs of that here, but they’re not disturbing signs, since they happen to be borne out of character. Francoise takes the lovely eyepatch for herself and it nearly flays her alive. Jubei rescues her without concern for herself – it fits her character and sensibility, so it isn’t a distraction or disappointment. And the ending, where, after all the sturm and drang of the missing eyepatch and a big battle (a little more crudely animated than usual, but with a striking ending tableau), Jubei returns to her friends as if nothing matters, shows that at heart, she is still sensible.
Rating :B

About Kent Conrad

To contact Kent Conrad, email kentc@explodedgoat.com