Details behind Baremoto’s plan aside, the boys’ revenge on Sasaki did turn out more or less like I was expecting. The same goes for Ishihara, whom Mario deemed too worthless to kill after learning how Sakuragi gave him Hagino’s note to try and end things once and for all. I can’t say I’m surprised that Mario decided to spare Ishihara’s useless life, but I am a bit disappointed he didn’t beat him to within an inch of it first. This is the corrupt jailer who had the inmates of Block 1 Cell 8 beat on Sakuragi after all, which resulted in Mario’s right-hand getting crushed when he offered to take his place. If I were in Mario’s shoes, I would’ve at least taken out some well warranted rage, before drawing the line at outright killing him. The restraint he showed there was pretty unbelievable given how he was prepared to be locked up in jail for murder, as seen when he met up with Setsuko before coming to Numazu. What I found really odd though was how quickly Mario came to terms with knowing that Sakuragi decided not to kill Ishihara and simply tried to make it back to the ring to watch the rest of his match, after he was stabbed.
Even if Mario understood Sakuragi’s desire to end things without any bloodshed, I’m still a bit boggled how he can just let the whole stabbing part slide. If anything, I figured he would have been more pissed off to learn that Ishihara still attacked Sakuragi after being given a peaceful option to put an end to everything. The only way Mario’s inner peace makes sense to me is if he assumed the stabbing wasn’t fatal and that An-chan was killed by the US military police because of the knife he had in his hand. However, my main problem with accepting that idea is that it involves giving Ishihara the benefit of the doubt behind Sakuragi’s death, and he’s the absolute last person to deserve that, especially from Mario of all people. The end result with Ishihara living the rest of his life as a drug addict who’s haunted by the an immortal Sakuragi is fine, but I still have a hard time understanding Mario’s thought process leading up to that.
As for Sasaki, I don’t think things could have played out any better for his punishment. From everything to luring him out using his boy toy to Joe sticking a gun right in his head, burying him in the sand and watching him slowly drown from the incoming tide turned out to be the perfect finish to it all. At first, I really thought they were going to simply let him die like that, which didn’t sit too well with me to be honest given the whole torture aspect of it. Still, I love how that bastard finally got a taste of his own medicine and wasn’t given the easy way out of simply dying on the beach. It was much more satisfying learning that Joe and the others got to confess all his crimes by threatening to leave him for dead and then broadcast it all at his political campaign for everyone to hear. That was on top of scaring him half to death and dragging his ass back to the inn, making him believe that it was all just a horrible nightmare. It was great watching him live in fear, hoping that it was all just a bad dream.
I’m a bit skeptical that a plan like this would work as perfectly as it did — particularly with the part where Sasaki passed out — but I’m willing to cast believability aside in this case because I wanted to see Sasaki mentally scarred just like Ishihara. The only part where Baremoto’s plan seemed to fall short is that Sasaki wasn’t thrown in prison in the very end. He did have his reputation ruined and fortune taken away, but I’m not quite satisfied if he managed to escape the slammer. Whatever the case, this may mark the last we’ve seen of both him and Ishihara, which has me wondering what will happen now that Mario and the others have parted ways. The ending sequence has been updated with everyone as they are now, shows their lives taking a turn for the better, and hints at a relationship between Mario and Setsuko much like the preview for the next episode. It’s been suggested that he has a thing for her, but it still feels like he’s moving in on Sakuragi’s girl after his death, which I personally wouldn’t be cool with doing. Setsuko’s visit to Sakuragi’s grave does indicate that she’s moving on too, so I gather that partially means with Mario as well.