It wasn’t looking good for Sakuragi last time and the preview suggested he wasn’t going to pull through either, so I can’t say I’m too surprised by how things unfolded. More than anything though, I’m just bothered by how it came down to this. An-chan, you idiot. Why god damn it? Why believe that Ishihara is worth saving and that you were going to be the one to do it? I would normally call this a tragedy, but I just couldn’t feel the least bit sad about Sakuragi getting shot to death by the American soldiers when he didn’t drop the knife coated with his own blood. Instead, it was absolutely frustrating to see because it was a stupid and meaningless death that could have easily been avoided. What’s even more annoying is that Sasaki arrived just in time to witness him getting killed to revel in the sight of it. Sakuragi paid the ultimate price for being too trustworthy and foolishly believing he could change even the likes of Ishihara. If there’s a lesson to be taken away from his death in this series, that would be it in my eyes. It’s hard for me to feel sorry for someone who put saving his friend’s killer before those that he’s now left behind, despite how much I like An-chan for everything he’s done for Mario and the others thus far. Then there’s Setsuko too, who he made cry her eyes out at the sight of his lifeless body. Sigh… Did the soldiers really have to unload that many rounds?
I was a bit surprised to see the story time-lapse to the promised day under the tree on June 6th of the following year, but relieved at the same time because I really didn’t want to see what Mario and Setsuko went through emotionally for the next while. Also, most of the others still had a fair bit of time to serve in the Shonan juvenile corrections facility, so I could only imagine their frustration being stuck in there and catching word that An-chan was killed. Now that they’ve been released and are back together, at least they can do something to calm the burning unrest they all feel. However, I can’t say I’m not too fond of them taking on murderous roles and plotting to kill Ishihara and Sasaki, the latter of which is running for mayor now. I did appreciate how Suppon and the others were quick to notice that Mario was planning to take revenge on his own and choose to help out, but I have to agree with Setsuko (in her lovely long-hair look) that this vicious cycle of hatred is not what Sakuragi would have wanted. Unfortunately, slapping Mario didn’t seem to be enough to get that point across; He headed off to Numazu in Shizuoka prefecture right after to kill a drugged up Ishihara, who’s deteriorated into nothing more than a mentally-scarred bum waiting for Sakuragi to come kill him.
Had Sakuragi actually survived, I think this would of been a rather befitting punishment for Ishihara, as he’s mentally unstable and delusional to the point that he thinks Mario is Sakuragi himself. I honestly don’t care what happens to Ishihara at this point should Mario decide to kill him or not, but I do hope that one of the many bullets pulled from Sakuragi’s body saves him from being consumed by hatred. It may already be too late though, as he gave Setsuko all the earnings he made from working as a bartender for rent and everything else she’s provided him with up until now and abandoned the idea of having a future for himself. In contrast, I’m not opposed to Baremoto devising a plan to smear Sasaki’s campaign and start it off by scaring him with a disturbingly warm welcome. At least this way they aren’t soiling their hands with his tainted blood. Ishihara has already gotten what he deserves whether he dies or not, but Sasaki still needs to be driven into a corner to the breaking point for being the true culprit in all of this. Seeing him run for mayor is even more of a kick in the face to everyone as well.
From a broader perspective, I love how this series continues to depict that the world isn’t as rosy as stories tend to be. Bad guys don’t just suddenly become good when you give them a second or third chance. Reality is cruel, harsh, and most of all unforgiving, particularly in the post World War II period they’re living in. With that said, next week is a recap episode looking back on the life of Sakuragi and everything he’s done for the other guys. It’s probably better to dwell on all the positive ways he influenced them rather than how his death has caused them to spiral down the path of vengeance.
* For those wondering how long this adaptation will run for, syoboi calendar has updated their schedule indicating that it will be at least 26 episodes. There’s always the possibility that it will run longer than that, but two-cour sounds about right for a MADHOUSE studio project.