Moyashimon – 04
The freshmen students are busy in their classes, which require planting crops in the university’s many paddy fields. Sawaki and Kei wonder why a transplanter can’t be used instead of all the manual labor. We learn here that Sawaki and Kei are used to manually planting crops back home, compared to Hazuki who has only done it once during elementary school (she remembers being bitten by leeches). Sawaki observes that the ridges between the paddy field are uncannily clean, with very few microorganisms around the area. Kei suggests that this is probably because of the herbicide the university uses on its cultivation fields, which appears to target both weeds and microbes.
After the tiring class, the three freshmen spot professor Itsuki on one of the uncultivated fields. He appears digging up yet another fermented monstrosity, although this time it isn’t as exotic – he is digging up some fermented bamboo shoots. After talking about the beauty of weeds such as the dandelion, he releases a beaker’s worth of earthworms to compost and aerate the uncultivated fields.
Back at the microbiology lab, Misato and Kawahama are studying earthworms rather boisterously, which Haruka clearly does not approve of. She complains to Itsuki as they enter the lab, claiming that Misato and Kawahama only talk about insects and alcohol (lol). The professor pays no attention to Haruka’s plea, and finds Misato and Kawahama to be entertaining. He mentions the need for the group to have spring vegetables – Sawaki and Kei are asked to go to the B-1 farm on campus and *steal* some.
The two reluctantly sets off, as Sawaki wonders why many of the buildings still have lights out – not to mention the number of people who remain outside. Hazuki isn’t too thrilled with the idea of Sawaki and Kei stealing, although Haruka sheepishly comments that the B-1 farm was built temporarily for “the event.” It turns out that Sawaki and Kei are not the only ones approaching the B-1 farm either – several other freshmen students can be seen creeping and hiding around, as they talk about being instructed to steal veggies. Sawaki and Kei realize that they are taking part in something fishy, and opt to go for the closer, deserted B-7 farm instead…
The B-7 farm, Haruka explains, is a “trap” – it is a farm exclusively designed for testing extra-strength chemicals. This particular farm had a history of its crops getting stolen by students on a tight budget, so the university eventually made a schoolwide event using freshmen to help promote anti-theft awareness. Misato and Kawahama add that they were the ones who fell for the trap the year before; both upperclassmen and professors remain awake this day just to know the freshmen who are caught stealing from the B-7 farm.
Unbeknownst to what will happen to them, Sawaki and Kei enter the B-7 farm. A motion sensor quickly detects their intrusion – light shells shoot up, and the sirens sound. Sawaki and Kei are greeted by upperclassmen, including the American football team, and they run away for their lives. Their efforts are futile, and they are caught.
Sawaki and Kei become overnight celebrities, as their photos appear throughout campus as this year’s “vegetable thieves.” Sawaki appears to be sick – apparently he drank some spoiled milk – but attends the freshmen orientation with Kei and Hazuki anyway. They start their orientation by attending a demonstration of a farm tractor powered by biofuel. The tractor, built by the upperclassmen, appears impressive, although it is rather weak and quickly runs out of fuel. With that demonstration done, the incoming freshmen are introduced to the various facilities on campus aboard a coach pulled by a normal gasoline-fueled farm tractor.
The freshmen are now at the university’s animal barn. They all draw lots, which Sawaki “wins.” As the winner of the lottery, Sawaki is asked to take part in a different demonstration, which featured cows and artificial insemination – he gets the dubious honor of inserting his arm inside a cow as part of the insemination lecture.
Kei: “How does it feel Sawaki?”
Sawaki: “It…its very warm…and it…sometimes…moves.” x.X
With the cow demo over, the freshmen are now treated to lunch cooked by the older students. Sawaki doesn’t feel like eating just yet, and he takes a look at Hazuki’s lunch – a roll of bread and salad. He sees a pink, suspicious microbe scurrying around, and he warns everyone to not eat what is being served. No one believes him, but Itsuki comes to his aid with a microscope in hand. He instructs the faculty to gather the students and call for the closest hospital and medical attention – the food is infected with O-157. (mewmew’s Note: Escherichia coli O157:H7, or O-157 as it is commonly known in Japan, is a strain of E. coli that became considerably infamous in Japan as the strain responsible for several mass food poisonings. It also gained attention in the United States as part of the E. coli outbreak involving spinach and iceberg lettuce just a year ago. More detailed information can be found here)
Fortunately, none of the students actually ate any of the food served during lunch, so damage was minimal. Professor Itsuki commends Sawaki and asks how he was able to tell that O-157 infected the students’ lunch. Sawaki responds that he found it odd to see bacteria survive in the highly acidic salad dressing – he wouldn’t have been as suspicious if it was located elsewhere. Professor Itsuki comments that an upperclassmen tending the cows must have unknowingly brought some O-157 over to the food prepared for lunch, but he is glad that no victims came out from the scare. He still warns Sawaki to be more careful, since Sawaki has been attracting a great deal of attention lately. Before Sawaki can answer, he collapses to the floor.
Sawaki regains consciousness to find himself on top of medical stretcher inside a hospital. He insists that he isn’t infected with E. coli, and that he was sick since the morning, but the doctor doesn’t buy his argument one bit. He asks for Itsuki’s permission to have Sawaki stay for the night, while Sawaki sees some influenza viruses fly by…
Microbe Theater: Members of the O-157 strain try to claim their innocence, but are pushed aside as some intestinal bacteria join the fray.
The episode’s content was great, and Sawaki’s experience with the cow is hilarious. The O-157 inclusion also receives my stamp of approval, because that particular strain of E. coli is REALLY well-known in Japan and stirs a great deal of media frenzy from time to time (the most recent case happening last May when 36 students from Musashino University were infected from food served in the school cafeteria).
One thing did bother me despite this, and its the animation quality. As many viewers have noticed, the characters this episode were drawn pretty badly – this is particularly evident with Sawaki, whose eyes seemed to have doubled in size compared to previous episodes. I’m praying this outsourcing will either stop, or won’t be as severe, because it was that noticeable, and it is in no way a good thing. I still think the CG depiction of the earthworm is atrocious, too.
Next time: Microbe ghosts? I wonder how that will turn out!