In the city where Michiko was last seen, Atsuko investigates the trail of trouble that Michiko seems to leave behind her wherever she goes, and it looks like she might catch up soon. She has been tracking Michiko with her friend Ricardo practically since her jail escape, stopping to talk to the Chinese store owner where Hatchin worked, Michiko’s flaming-fro friend, and even the orphanage in Vermelha.
Still a few steps ahead, Michiko turns around on her bike to find she’s missing a passenger while stuck in a traffic jam. Hatchin got off without telling her to sit in a café and have a drink. After a brief kicking-fight under the table between the two pissed off girls, Michiko finally gets Hatchin to spit out what’s been bothering her (this time) and it’s just that Michiko has been skipping out on her bills too much recently. Later that evening, Hatchin unpacks her bag in the hotel room and Michiko decides to go out for a bit, telling her to stay put and absolutely under no circumstances go out alone while she’s gone.
In a gambling hotel nearby, three thugs and a man claiming to be Satoshi are harassing and bullying a customer. In a different bar, Michiko has a drink while she sits alone at a table. She asks the bartender if he knows anything about Satoshi’s whereabouts, but he’s clueless. She looks out the window in time to see a man she seems to recognize, but can’t quite place him yet. That strangely dressed man walks into a semi-private club and interrupts the dinner of a man and his “date” to talk business about something regarding the location of none other than his dear acquaintance, Satoshi. He finds it odd that Satoshi would be committing bad business and scams in town when Shinsuke clearly remembers him being elsewhere at the time. As Shinsuke speaks to him, holding his hands tightly, the man trembles in fear. He gets an address from the man, and a few minutes later, Shinsuke and his men blow the lock of a hotel room and enter.
A bit later, Hatchin finishes up a coconut cocktail at a street level café (by herself) and sees a guy get kicked out of the bar and beaten up a bit by the thug “Satoshi” and his friends. At 1:00am, Michiko finds Hatchin in the streets and almost slaps her but Hatchin stops her with a few short, angry words. She says she tracked down Satoshi, enters the hotel, and leaves Michiko standing in the street alone.
In a dark hotel room, Michiko smokes a cigarette while Hatchin lays on the bed, awake. Michiko asks where she saw Satoshi, so she tells her. Hatchin also says that she’s been thinking maybe they ought to go their separate ways. She doesn’t even want to see Michiko’s face anymore. Michiko promised to protect her, and will stand by that, even if Hatchin doesn’t really care either way. Michiko gives her a soft look before leaving.
Meanwhile, “Satoshi” and friends are back in their own shot-up hotel room where Shinsuke blasted his way in earlier, not at all happy about the state of things. He bullies the management into giving them a decked out suite as a service for all the trouble. The next morning he and his group watch a kung-fu movie with a table full of room-service when an uninvited guest drops in.
Michiko asks where Satoshi is, and the leader immediately claims that it’s him. Noticing clearly that it’s not, she turns to leave but they all stop her. Unimpressed by their attempt to push her around, the real kung-fu badass knocks out each of them in one hit before landing a nice kick straight into “Satoshi’s” balls. Apparently this wins over his heart, so he tags along behind her all the way to the hotel lobby and wants to follow her around while she looks for the real Satoshi. He sends one of his confused thugs out on an errand but everyone is suddenly alarmed when that guy gets shot down in the middle of the hotel entrance.
While everyone else rushes to his aide, Michiko holds Davi (“Satoshi”) back wisely, and the phone rings behind him. He answers the phone to find himself talking to Shinsuke, who seems to know exactly who he’s talking to. Davi however, is clueless, and asks who the hell he’s talking to but hangs up in fear when Shinsuke introduces himself as the Black Monster, aka the Monstro gang. As Davi cowers in fear, the phone rings again, but this time Michiko answers. After a moment’s pause, she recognizes her old acquaintance Shinsuke by his voice, and they have a quick reunion.
Michiko tells Shinsuke that she’s in town searching for Satoshi, and wants to know where he is. He laughs at the notion that she expected him to just tell her straight up. Rather than money, he wants her to play a game in order to earn the right information. At first she flatly refuses, and hangs up on him. Having second thoughts, she takes a bag from one of Davi’s friends and throws it out the front door. Everyone watches in terror as it’s filled with countless bullet holes before it has a chance to hit the ground.
As Davi argues about semantics (“I only said I was Satoshi, not Satoshi Batista!”), Michiko walks back to the front desk to answer the ringing phone again, and reluctantly agrees to play Shinsuke’s game. She makes a deal with him, and he starts listing off a long series of bus names and transfers for a game he calls “Non-stop Transfer.” Before she leaves to jump on the first bus, she calls to leave a hotel message for Hatchin, reminding her that she’ll definitely keep her promise.
Jumping from one bus to another, Michiko and Davi (along with his two remaining followers) quickly run out of breath playing Shinsuke’s nearly impossible game. One man promptly gets shot down in the street, and everyone else reluctantly (some more than others) leaves him behind in the heat of the chase. Davi’s last man revolts as they keep getting shot at, and soon all that’s left is Michiko and Davi hopping from bus to bus. He helps her choose between a tough decision, and as they make it in time to catch the final bus on her list, Michiko sees Hatchin on the opposite bus (the one she didn’t choose) out of the corner of her eye. As it turns the corner, heading off in a different direction, she watches until the other bus is out of sight, resolved to complete her goal and yet still looking back toward Hatchin.
At the designated location and time, a small girl leads Michiko and Davi to an all-but-deserted train station in the middle of nowhere, with a single telephone booth. It rings only a few moments after their arrival, and Shinsuke tells them to walk down the tracks to the end of the tunnel. Shinsuke greets them personally with a gun shot that grazes Davi’s cheek. He says he kept his promise, and that it’s perfectly fine if the Satoshi-wanna-be takes his leave now.
Elsewhere, Atsuko gets a phone call from the real Satoshi, who gives her a big hint regarding Michiko’s location. She grins, and happily tells Ricardo that they’re going to Terra. On a totally different train heading out of town, Hatchin sticks her head out of the window with a determined look on her face.
Things are beginning to culminate, but we aren’t quite there yet. The first half of this episode focuses on the struggling relationship between Michiko and Hatchin as they search for Satoshi separately. As I thought, it seems Hatchin still hasn’t completely forgiven Michiko for what happened with Bruno recently, so things are a little tense between them.
I was actually a bit relieved when I started suspecting that Davi wasn’t the real Satoshi. It was almost disappointing to see a common street thug acting up instead of someone tough enough to make Michiko actually show signs of fear or respect. As we saw, she pretty much kicked his ass without blinking. But the disappointment was definitely the intention of the writers, and it was fun to see the plot unfold. Shinsuke was trying to track this faker down because he was abusing the notoriety behind the name Satoshi to extort local businesses around town, but Davi and his crew were clearly in over their heads once Shinsuke took things into his own hands using the power of Monstro.
Speaking of Shinsuke, I love that guy. He’s absolutely insane in the best possible way, which only adds more to the huge element of danger that lurks around him. His name is apparently as notorious as Satoshi’s, inspiring fear and terror in anyone that crosses his path (except Michiko, but they go way back). His psychotic bus transfer game was a lot of fun, too. The second half of this week’s episode spent much of the time fleeting from one bus to another on his wild game. It seems like if anyone went astray, someone was there to snipe the lost sheep out of the pack. Those are the rules of the game, so I guess losing was out of the question.
I was really touched by the moment where Michiko saw Hatchin out of the corner of her eye when she barely made it in time to catch the last train and couldn’t decide which to take. This series really loves its metaphors, and this is no exception. The girls are splitting paths here, and it’s strongly symbolized by the two busses turning in different directions, quite literally taking them in two separate ways. Sadly, Michiko couldn’t do anything but watch it happen right in front of her. Michiko ends up face to face with Shinsuke, who says he’ll keep his end of the bargain, but at the same time Hatchin is taking things into her own hands and leaves town all by herself.
Some of you may have already noticed, but this week was a double release again. I’d complain about the irregularity, but I like double the fun. (Until this week anyway, when there’s no release at all.) Episode 9 is out and available for downloads or what-have-you, so I’ll get on that review as quickly as possible. I’m still playing a little catch-up, and seem to be a little behind (by about a week), but I am working through each blog one at a time, slowly but surely. The holidays will be a great time to catch up completely. I hope you enjoy yours, so stay safe and feel free to stop by RC anytime you need a mental break from whatever holiday disasters are plaguing you.