I’ve been wondering what the significance of the series’ title is all this time and it looks like I finally got my answer upon learning Isao’s true motive — the sight of an atomic bomb going off in the middle of the night. According to Ichinose, the atomic bomb demonstration that Isao threatened the Lytton committee with in the Taklamankan Desert was nothing more than an illusion shown with his powers. In reality, Ichinose is still struggling over the mathematical formula for the detonation mechanism and doesn’t have a weapon of mass destruction fully developed. Quite frankly, that comes as a pleasant surprise to me, simply because it means the story is adhering closely to history admist all the fictional aspects. Much like Metal Gear Solid 3, I absolutely love stories where it’s possible that a conspiracy like this could have taken place and historians just weren’t aware of it (minus the superhuman powers). They tend to get me thinking about other potential untold truths leading up the historical facts that have been recorded and are taught today. By no means do I believe that something as extravagant as this took place, but the whole “what if” factor is cool when the story fits seamlessly into our time line. That’s the main reason why I enjoy Hideo Kojima‘s MGS series so much and why Senkou no Night Raid’s been just as entertaining in anime form.
While that became one of my personal highlights for this episode, a lot of other key revelations were made to bring together everything that’s happened before. This includes the mysterious disappearance of one of the Kwantung Army’s brigades foreshadowed all the way back in episode two and the true purpose behind creating the Sakurai Kikan secret agency — to prevent them from being found. By now, it comes as no surprise that the missing brigade is Isao’s now independent organization, acting on their own beliefs towards a unified Asia with self-determination, but this revelation that the Sakurai Kikan was devised to keep the Kwantung Army from pursuing the deserters themselves was so sensible but not at all obvious at the same time. Aoi did express that he had doubts about Sakurai before, given how Isao always seems to have been tipped off when they’re hot on his tail, but I still wasn’t expecting him to be on Isao’s side all this time.
Now that Aoi, Yukina, and Natsume have been clearly forsaken by Sakurai, the story fast-fowards to three months later with them acting independently and looking for leads to Isao. However, Isao and his men have stayed pretty quiet all this time, during which round-the-clock construction work has been taking place in Shinkyou in preparation for Puyi’s expedited inauguration ceremony as the new emperor of Manchukuo. All of this is in accordance to history of course, including how the Kwantung Army is displeased about his arrogance when he’s intended to be nothing more than a puppet for them to manipulate. With no real clue on where to start searching, Aoi and the others find themselves in Houten (Mukden) when Puyi’s paying a visit to the ancestral grave of the Qing Dynasty founders, Nurhaci and Huang Taiji, only to find Fuu Lan selling Baozi there. In their “calm before the storm” moment, I found Aoi’s inability to talk about Kazura pretty indicative of how much his betrayal is bothering him, and Fuu Lan made it even harder on him by suggesting that he try to add Kazura to the picture they had taken later on.
I’m still a bit perplexed by why Natsume chose to start working on the dead soil shortly afterward, but I get the feeling he wanted to be reminded of his farmer roots after hearing how the the old man had his land taken over by the Manchuria Temjin Company. It was almost as if it was a mental preparation of sorts for what’s to come. I’m also left wondering if it has something to do with the night of the new moon that was approaching when he’s unable to use his powers. Whatever the case is, Natsume not having his powers on the night that Isao has decided to act is about as bad of a break as he can get, especially when he finds himself up against Kuze. Meanwhile, Aoi has another run-in with Kazura, who’s preventing him from reaching Shizune in the secret underground chamber beneath the yet to be completed State Council.
As for the chamber itself, Isao hasn’t completely spelled it out for us what he intends to have Shizune show all the important politicians who have gathered for Puyi’s inauguration ceremony, but all signs are pointing towards using the ceremonial grounds designed with Feng Shui ideology to channel her vision of the dreadful future. With Ichinose unable to complete an actual atomic bomb, it looks like they’re resorting to using Shizune’s powers to achieve the same result Isao’s after — the creation of a weapon of mass destruction that will act as a deterrent and bring about world peace. Given how the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the Second World War spread worldwide fear of seeing a weapon like that ever used again, it’s easy for us to conclude that Isao’s vision of a “fragile peace but peace nonetheless” will work. The one thing I’m sure he’s not banking on though is that Japan would fall victim to its destruction two times before that happens.
While Isao will surely be in for a surprise if he lives to see that day, his decision to have other countries develop the deterrent that they weren’t able to and potentially avoid a second world war is the big revelation here. To that end, Kazura’s already having doubts about how he’s hoping to realize those goals by demanding the release of the Asian colonies from Western and European powers and threatening to drop a bomb on Shanghai at midnight if they fail to comply. Will we really see the “Senkou” (flash) during the “Night Raid” next time? Your guess is as good as mine, but the finale looks like it’s going to be pretty intense.
* I must say I’m pretty disappointed with Yukina’s conservative attire in this series, because some of the promotional artwork and a dakimakura design show just how lovely she is. I expected to see her in a cheongsam at least once!