In Vermelha 12 years ago, Michiko teased Hiroshi while doing laundry together because he said he wanted a photo of her. Later on, she interrupted his homely cooking disaster with a camera, and he set it up to take a picture of her. Since Michiko was too uncomfortable to sit still and let him take it, Hiroshi suggested they take one together instead. That night, Michiko geot wasted at her friend’s bar, and woke up to find she was being carried home on Hiroshi’s back. As she forced him to let her down, he told her he’s quitting Monstro, and they shared a sweet moment on the steps together. Sometime later at a busy bus station, Hiroshi looked down at the picture he took with Michiko, and stood up to board the bus. Later that day, that bus exploded and its passengers were consumed in fire, presumably along with Hiroshi.
Back in Terra, present day, Satoshi hijacks the car of someone he seems to know – Manabe – and forces him to drive to his home. Manabe’s wife is at home cooking dinner, but their son is currently out playing, so Satoshi holds them both hostage for awhile. He calls Shinsuke on his cellphone to confirm the status of his mission, and they have a small argument about who’s the boss and who’s the subordinate. Afterwards, Shinsuke throws the phone down in anger, and kicks Michiko around while she’s tied up to a rope hanging from the ceiling. Out to test Satoshi’s fate, he knocks Michiko out, but loads a single bullet into a gun and straps it to her back before sending her to meet with Satoshi in Terra.
On the phone again, Satoshi talks to Atsuko and confirms he should have Michiko there waiting for her in the morning, hopefully still alive. Atsuko’s companion, Ricardo, listens in on her conversation through a device in the car.
Satoshi yawns at Manabe’s attempt to amend the past and plead for the lives of his wife and son. When his son finally arrives home, Satoshi orders Manabe to go pick up the battered Michiko from the train station and bring her back within the hour while he holds his family hostage. When Satoshi finds out Manabe’s son is 10 years old, he has a flashback to his own childhood (25 years ago, do the math!).
Little Satoshi was running from some thugs when Little Hiroshi saved him. In exchange for the help and a promise to help overthrow Manabe and overthrow the Monstro gang, Satoshi gave Hiroshi his shoes (since he was walking around without any), as well as the gun he was carrying. He also clarified that from now on he’s the boss, and Hiroshi will be his partner.
A bruised and beaten up Michiko is thrown in front of Satoshi back at Manabe’s house. Manabe panics when he can’t find his wife or son, and goes into a state of shock and anger when Satoshi offers him a deal – make him laugh before he finishes his cigarette – to spare his life. It’s the same deal Manabe offered Satoshi so many years ago. Thinking back, Satoshi puts out his cigarette. As the candle flickers, time flashes and Satoshi looks down at Manabe’s bloody body on the floor.
25 years ago, some children running away in a panic told Little Hiroshi that Little Satoshi tried to kill Youngish Manabe but got caught. Manabe cruelly teased Satoshi, offering him the previously mentioned deal, promising to cut off only his legs if he can make him laugh before he finishes his cigarette. The young Satoshi couldn’t do anything but cry and wet himself in fear, accidentally causing Manabe to laugh, so he asked his thug friends for a knife. Hiroshi listened in and in a rush to save his friend he heroically cut out the lights in the bar and rushed in with a gun in the dark to save Satoshi.
Alone in the house, Michiko begs Satoshi for information on Hiroshi’s current whereabouts, but he just backs up the exploding bus story, even saying he saw Hiroshi’s burnt corpse. Michiko doesn’t believe him, so he kicks her in anger while she lays on the floor. He confesses the whole story that he secretly killed all of the leaders in Monstro but blamed Phantasma so that they were basically destroyed too, effectively starting the large war between the two gangs. He even admits to killing Kiril after Michiko visited him, who probably only wanted to make a deal with Satoshi for peace. At this critical moment of victory, Hiroshi had told him he wanted to leave to be with Michiko. Instead of telling him the truth, Satoshi made it seem like Kiril just went missing, and told Hiroshi he’d have to find him in order to leave. After that, all that was left was to get rid of Michiko.
Michiko finds the gun that Shinsuke planted on her, and points it at Satoshi as sturdily as she can. He tells her not to miss, but as she fires he kicks it out of her hand. He tells her he’s selling her to Atsuko in the morning, but she continues to ignore him and ask where Hiroshi is. Satoshi finally and furiously answers that even he doesn’t know, causing Michiko to smile (probably – at this point her face is hardly recognizable).
The next morning bright and early, Atsuko arrives to pick up Michiko. Ricardo interrupts their clandestine arrangement and orders the local police to interfere with what should have been Atsuko’s private accomplishment. Satoshi manages to take the money and get back inside the house safely only to find one body instead of two lying on the floor.
Ricardo tells Atsuko he’s tired of following her around, obeying the orders of a female officer who’s younger than him, so he sabotaged the deal in order to secure Michiko himself and avoid inevitable demotion. He orders the police to charge in and capture both suspects, knocking Atsuko to the ground. She gets up to grab a crossbow from the trunk of her car, and kicks Ricardo in the balls before running off to track down Michiko herself in the field behind Manabe’s house.
Atsuko finds Michiko laying on the ground after hearing the click of her gun, and ignores Michiko’s plea of friendship since her job is on the line. Meanwhile, Satoshi seems to be successfully running away from the cops on his end of the field. In a standoff between the two girls, Michiko shoots her empty gun. In a dramatic moment, Atsuko tells her to hurry up and get the hell out of here. She turns around to face off with Ricardo as he runs towards her, and smiles as she points the crossbow at her own subordinate instead.
If you were wondering what was going on with Michiko while Hatchin was making a new friend in the circus, now you know. This episode focused entirely on present and past Michiko and Satoshi, and finally gave us some long awaited plot pieces that connect the time lines between most of the information we have been shown. Past and present friendships were tested, with different results.
Satoshi lives up to the hype that the series successfully built up around him. He comes across as interestingly complex, affected strongly by his childhood with Hiroshi and mostly successful struggle for power. Seems like he’s done pretty well for himself considering he’s in his mid-thirties and is still alive. It also seems like Shinsuke is a rough subordinate to handle. I think it’s important to note that Satoshi values power above all else, and didn’t take Hiroshi’s “betrayal” lightly. I don’t think he intended the bus to blow up – he merely wanted Hiroshi to go on a wild goose chase to find Kiril, effectively keeping him from ever leaving the gang. As a childhood friend, I feel like he trusted Hiroshi more than anyone, especially after he saved his life. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems like he also helped orchestrate Michiko’s arrest after the Kiril incident, blaming her for his death. I thought that the fat blonde guy had something to do with ratting her out, but perhaps Satoshi just spread the rumor that Michiko killed him and then the blonde guy informed on her to the police.
We got to see some sweet Hiroshi and Michiko flashbacks, along with the backstory of the photo that Michiko was carrying several weeks ago. Which makes me stop and wonder – Were there two copies? Hint hint hint. Between Satoshi’s angry confession that he has no idea of Hiroshi’s whereabouts, and this little wrinkle in the plot, I’m beginning to be swayed toward Michiko’s side that maybe Hiroshi really is still alive somewhere. After all, Hatchin pulled the same photo out of the desk drawer at Michiko’s old apartment that she shared with Hiroshi when they arrived in Vermelha. If he carried it with him onto the bus, it’s totally possible that he really did make it out alive somewhere and returned to the apartment to put it in the desk sometime later. But that still raises tons of questions for me, like, I dunno: Where the hell is he and what has he been doing all these years?
The most satisfying cliffhanger I think I’ve ever seen confirmed Atuko’s strong friendship with Michiko, despite the years of (probable) abuse. Ricardo comes across as a total douche, making it easy to hate him for his selfish betrayal against Atsuko. Going around her back because she’s younger than him and female? Pretty low. This series doesn’t forgive weak characters like that, so I hope he gets what he deserves in the next episode, which will supposedly air next week. Following irregular air dates, please forgive the irregular posting, but as usual I’m looking forward to the next episode probably more than any other series this season.