「幸せと思えよ」 (Shiawase to Omoeyo)
“Consider Yourself Lucky”
Picking up on the Ume’s backstory from last time, things fast-forward to the present where Senkichi is still being extorted for money by his ex-gang member Denshichi (Imaruoka Atsushi). While Senkichi was shown to have some redeeming traits in the flashback, Denshichi proved to be a pretty lost cause almost immediately. From the very onset, we learn that he’s been taking the money that Senkichi’s been receiving from Ume all this time yet still plans to blackmail him into joining his current gang. In addition, he later threatens to get Ume involved before going straight to the Elder when Senkichi pleaded to leave him out of it, lowing my opinion of him even further. Seeing him pull out a weapon was pretty much the last straw, at which point I was looking to Masa in hopes that he’ll show us those sword skills of his. I can’t say that it turned out to be a very flash display on Masa’s part, but he did get the job done after acting like a samurai and shielding the Elder from harm. Senkichi showing up shortly after to actually kill him off came as a bit of a shock, but I was pretty relieved at the same time. The whole blackmailing thing in general was already getting on my nerves after learning about it, so finding out that Denshichi wasn’t even satisfied by all the hush money pretty much exceeded my tolerance level on the matter.
Be that as it may, I’m still a bit amazed about seeing someone get killed in this series when I’ve been so caught up in the relatively laid-back pacing. Given how Matsu has been observing Denshichi to see if he’s spoken about them to his gang, I’m curious as to whether this will turn out to be something more. For now, I get the feeling that things are more or less resolved and the focus will shift back on whether Ume plans to continue his activities with the Five Leaves now that he doesn’t have that financial burden. Alongside that, I gather we’ll delve more into Yaichi’s past now that the Elder’s met him for the very first time and recognizes who he is. As I mentioned back in episode three, I’m under the suspicion that Yaichi is actually Seinoshin, who is seen in all of his flashbacks. The fact that the Elder recognizes him has me wondering if it was his gang who was hired to kidnap him before, even though their brief meeting at the end of this episode doesn’t provide any foundation to that suspicion. Whatever the case is, I’m intrigued about learning about what the Elder knows about Yaichi, since he’s easily the biggest marvel in the story.
As for some miscellaneous tidbits, the arrival of the Elder’s friend “Toku-san” (Sakuraba Yuuji) leads me to believe he’s the co-leader of their former gang. He’s similar in age to the Elder, a.k.a. “Souji-don”, and knowledgeable about worldly affairs such as gang activities, though his friendly demeanor isn’t what I would expect from someone nicknamed “Demon Spider” (Onigumo). Other than that, Masa seems to have recovered from the Edo disease and showed off his long-flowing hair for the first time. Also, the way he earnestly speaks his mind is proving to be a lot of fun to watch, as he not only saw through the Elder this time around, but Ume as well when he realized that Yaichi and Matsu were acting on their own of out of his best interest. Ume already figured as much after Otake hinted at it, but leave it up to Masa to actually say what he’s thinking. Good ‘ol Masa and his inability to sense the mood. =)