If there’s one thing everyone should take away from this series, it’s the portrayal of self-sacrifice and what it means to be a real friend. However, with Mario’s hand getting completely crushed by the inmates of Block 1 Cell 8, I was waiting for Sakuragi’s tolerance threshold to burst. Well burst it did, as he not only beat everyone to a bloody pulp, but also silenced them from telling Ishihara that he was responsible. Without anyone blaming Sakuragi for the incident, I just loved Ishihara’s reaction as he could sense the cold eyes peering right through his very soul. It was awesome seeing our protagonists get back at the jailer/tyrant in some way, but unsettling at the same time since I just knew things were going to get worse.
In light of that, I could get a sense that Kumagai genuinely wanted to help Sakuragi and the others, but it’s been painfully obvious that he can’t be relied on in this situation. So as expected, Ishihara and Sasaki focus their mistreatment on Joe and the others in an attempt to provoke An-chan. In the face of their tyranny with absolutely no one to turn to but themselves, I was moved by how they endured the abuse without question and stood bowing in the heavy rain until Ishihara was pleased. However, to add insult to injury, the damn bastard stood next to Sakuragi and made him watch his friends suffer. It was an incredibly vexing scene to watch as it was clear Sakuragi was suffering with them, which is why it was nice to see that they knew what Ishihara was after, banded together, and stood there quietly for An-chan’s sake. They even smiled at An-chan to let him know they’re okay with it, but watching them suffer for his sake was clearly too painful for him to bear. Quite honestly, I felt exactly the same way, but when Sakuragi walked off with Ishihara after stopping him from abusing them any further, the look in his eyes as he thanked them made my heart sink. He knew he was in store for far worse punishment, but all Sakuragi cared about was preventing his friends from suffering in his place.
Locked in a solitary detention cell and deprived of food and water for a week, Sakuragi was pretty much slated to die a slow death. I honestly have no idea how any human being can go more than a few days without water, let alone food and water for an entire week, but somehow he managed to do so. With only two weeks left until Sakuragi’s release from prison, it turns out that Ishihara and Sasaki are out to kill him so that he can’t tell the rest of the world how they indirectly killed his former cellmate, Hagino Eiichi (Kiyasu Kouhei). During the flashback, it was disturbing to see Hagino endure Sasaki’s sexual abuse under the false promise that he could get out of prison earlier to tend to his sickly mother, but it was utterly disheartening to see him commit suicide after learning how it was all for naught. His last words to Sakuragi on how he’ll see his mother again earlier than he thought was so ominous it gave me goosebumps. As someone who was only in prison for stealing money to send his mother to the hospital, Hagino really deserved a much better fate than that. Evidently though, Sakuragi holds Ishihara and Sasaki directly responsible for his death and the subsequent cover-up, which is why he suffered so much at their hands in the past year. With him verging upon death by starvation however, I wondered if there would be any redeeming moment in this episode as things went from dark to even darker.
Luckily, a glint of hope came when Suppon sneaked off with everyone’s dinner, endured a lot of punishment from the guards, and got a huge rice ball with pickled radishes to Sakuragi. It was stained with his own blood, which made the scene with Sakuragi eating it with tears in his eyes and the music playing in the background so incredibly powerful. It was even more moving when Sakuragi apologized to Hagino for not being able to join him just yet, after he felt like he was going to die just moments earlier. Next time, it looks like Sakuragi is rejuvenated with enough energy to survive the remaining weeks of his sentence, but those two bastards have resorted to water torture now. Mario is reunited with the others though, and they look determined to not let Sakuragi die before he’s released. Kumagai also overheard how they plan to kill Sakuragi somehow, so hopefully he acts as well before it’s too late. In any case, I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again — damn this show rocks.