This is one of those episodes you can’t really write a summary about because most of the action going on is just antic after antic, rather than stuff actually happening. Well, most of you know what’s going on better than me anyways, considering you’ve all read the manga. For those who haven’t…well, you’re in for a treat! This week’s episode was a huge upgrade over the previous.
Part 1: Worries of the Master (or something like that)
Ikuto and Suzu are on one of their walks again – this time they’re going to see Suzu’s master, the one that taught her all those slick jounin moves in aikido and jujitsu. Turns out her master is a rather cutish cat with two tails and one of those neck-ribbons, like something Chuck Norris would wear. Oh well, as with most other things on the island, appearances are misleading, and Ikuto gets a clawful paw to the face upon commenting on the cat’s diminutive stature. Seems like there’s some sort of tournament going on between the cats and the dogs of the island – the objective is to get to the opponent’s hill and paint two marks on the master’s cheeks. Since every animal is armed with their own paintbrush, anybody can mark anybody else! Ikuto and Suzu are invited to join the cat team, led by two tails. The dog team, coincidentally, is led by a white puff that strangely resembles that mya-uttering thing in Pani Poni and the newer Negima series. Is that supposed to be a dog? The other dogs look like dogs… what the hell is this thing?
Like something out of Braveheart, The Last Samurai, or maybe Lord of the Rings, but this time with a lot of cute fuzzy balls of joy, the hills start raining down with cats and dogs as they charge into the woods below in order to reach the opponent’s hill. Ikuto and Suzu take their sweet time tripping over banana peels or getting ambushed by dogs doing that same retarded running circle thing that Rock Lee and later Sasuke did against Gaara to set up for that renge piledriver attack. Except this time an idiot isn’t standing in the middle – Ikuto sticks out his brush and trips up the whole circle. Next…
They finally reach the dog hill, where the mya dog thing is making fun of Ikuto and saying that it’s absolutely impossible for the cat team to win. Right on cue, Ikuto pops another vein and starts blur-dashing up the hill. He’s about halfway there when something pops up from under the ground in front of him…yay, it’s Ayane and Machi. Ayane is rocking some koala-looking tabby cat ears between those two rabbit-ear hair ribbons of hers, while Machi looks rather sultry in her white nekomimi getup, complete with large white paws. Reminds me of that sleepy mom in Mahoraba when that cosplay maniac dressed her up in the cat outfit… that was sweet. Anyways, the four duke it out, ending with Ayane stepping on her own explosive trap, and Machi getting outjousted by Ikuto.
Meanwhile, two sneaky dog ninjas have slipped through all the commotion and reached the cat hill, where they move in for the kill on Chuck Nyarris… as his head rolls off (!!) exposing Tonkatsu inside. Tonkatsu bunshin no jutsu!
Turns out the Tonkatsu on Ikuto’s head is actually the master, and he moves in for the finish on mya dog. Yay.
Part 2: Going to see the sakura
You know that whole tradition that Japanese have – every spring they take the whole family out, bring a ton of food and beer, and go have a picnic under the sakura trees, which are in full bloom with the pink splendor flying around everywhere. Airantou is no exception – apparently sakura trees grow on tropical islands too. Then again, there’s also a snow capped volcano. And instead of mermaids and Indians we got talking animals and epic battles between dogs and cats. Anyways, the whole gang takes off on some trek through the woods. On the way, they decide to split up ‘cause of the scary Master that inhabits the woods… I guess if they split up and somebody gets mauled over by another kung fu kitty, at least the rest of them will be able to have a good picnic. More beer for everyone else, anyway. Naturally, they draw lots to see who goes with who:
Team 1: “Stake and Sausage” – Machi and Ikuto
Team 2: “Blue-Suited Boobie(s)” – Ayane and Suzu (and Kuma Kuma…)
Team 3: “Cheap Shot Rob” – Chikage, Rin, Yukino (you know, the characters that nobody really notices or cares about but provides some filler material when it’s needed)
So the three teams split up and take different routes. Let’s drop in on their scenes:
Team 1: Takes the “high road” – in this case, the little outcropping on the side of a cliff. Ikuto isn’t a fan of high places, and Machi seems to be a fan of watching Ikuto not be a fan of high places.
Team 2: Takes the low road through the woods. Suzu does some moe tripping over branches while Ayane deftly avoids the branches and roots with ease – only to be bowled over by Kuma Kuma, who’s adopted Suzu’s penchant for tripping over foreign objects.
Team 3: Takes the middle road through the rocks. Chikage talks smack about Machi and promptly gets a long distance voodoo-stake through the heart, courtesy of Machi.
The three groups eventually meet up and bump into a large two-tailed cat that resembles Tony the Tiger from the backside, and something that Mint would wear just about everywhere else. He’s obviously the master they were trying to avoid, but apparently he’s off his prozac medication and is in a bit of a downer…so he points them in the right direction and saunters off.
Not there yet. They reach the river and realize the bridge has broken. We’re treated to a heartwarming Machi-centric series of scenes that involve the group cutting down a large tree and pushing it over the river, serving as their bridge. Moving right along…
By now Ikuto has reached the point where he’s tired of hanging out with girls and starts wanting a little more schlong back in his life. Suzu sees his mind wandering into undesirable places and grabs his hand and drags him out to the meadow ahead… ah, there’s the sakura tree. It’s one of those anime-exclusive sakura sequoias, similar to the one in Da Capo which was probably the reason for Nemu’s victory and Kotori’s subsequent defeat (in both series, no less), so needless to say, I’m not a fan of these sakura deals. Except when the petals are used for dramatic satire by a mermaid yakuza girl doing wordplay between ningyo and ninkyo.
So yea, they unpack and have their picnic. Medetashi, medetashi…
So much for the “can’t really write a summary” comment, I guess I overdid it again.
In all honesty, I’ve thought this show was in a bit of funk lately – it’s lost the freshness factor by now and is basically a rehash every week of the same story, just told with different characters doing different antics. And there was a severe Machi and Ayane deficiency. Well, I’m back to being satisfied again – this episode was actually quite enjoyable. I was a bit skeptical at first when all these random cats started popping out and talking all over the place (as if being stuck on an island with Calypso and her hottie virgin servants wasn’t realistic enough), but then it made me realize that maybe that’s just what could make this anime enjoyable. Instead of just walking the safe, boring route with the same old harem story being told over and over, throw in a curveball like this one and totally run away with it. Toss in some more voodoo sister, cut back on the three filler characters, and we’ve got a recipe for something a little more palatable. There was a bunch of little subtle details that made the episode more enjoyable, such as the dolphin in the last screenshot having a hard time swimming with a forty ton nabe ingredient on its back, or the fact that the lobster they had in their picnic bento was just as round as all the other things on the island.
As one that hasn’t read the manga, my hope is that there’s plenty of fresh material left to continue surprising me – for a show that’s slated to go beyond the typical 12 episodes allotted to a show of this type, there better be a lot more left to go around!