「将（ジェネラル）の帰還」 (Shou (Jeneraru) no Kikan)
“The General’s Return”
First off, congrats to Kanetsugu for winning the first Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Girls popularity poll and getting an official wallpaper to commemorate the occasion. It looks like I’m not the only one that’s grown really fond of our idiotic samurai, who managed to edge out the top spot from the very adorable Jubei. It’s usually hard to anticipate what kind of character stereotype fans will like the most, so Toyosaki Aki deserves special praise for making stupidity reign supreme. Kanetsugu seems to take the lovable quirky side of Hirasawa Yui and combine it with haughty attitude to make all the well warranted abuse fun to watch. In fact, she’s so annoying to the other characters that even a super masochist like Hanzou can’t resist the urge to stomp on her and enjoy doing it. One would think that the joke’s gotten old after all these episodes since Kanetsugu’s arrival, but it really hasn’t when just about everyone who comes into contact her has a sudden urge to shut her up by knocking her out. It’s even better considering how that gigantic hammer of hers has been used more on herself than anyone else.
While the slapstick humor continued this episode, so did the ongoing plot revolving around Sen and Yukimura’s orders to Hanzou and Matabee to form a pact with Muneakira and become master samurai. It didn’t become too pivotal of a development, but did provide a means for Gisen to take advantage of Muneakira’s dilemma. After her sudden and suspicious arrival, plus the huge ruckus she caused seducing Muneakira and fighting Sen, it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that she’s one of the antagonists in the series. Like I mentioned last time, the opening sequence was probably the biggest giveaway, as she’s notably absent from the group shot. Admittedly, what didn’t occur to me at the time is that Charles de d’Artagnan (Koshimizu Ami), a.k.a. Nia, is there. On top of the revelation that Gisen is a master samurai herself who’s intent on getting Jubei to retract her pact with Muneakira and form one with her master, the really big twist is that Yoshihiko isn’t even the antagonist of this series, suggesting that Nia will be fighting alongside Jubei and the others before long. Despite having kidnapped all the descendants of master samurai in hopes of artificially creating new ones as part of the “Izanami Project”, word of Amakusa Shirou being the real shadow being cast over Great Japan actually makes Yoshihiko’s actions somewhat understandable. Granted, he still seems to have a few screws loose with his questionable methods of protecting Great Japan from its supposedly greatest threat. Coincidentally, another twist came from the fact that there are currently no “real” master samurai left and that the world is fooled into believing there are so that Japan isn’t attacked by foreign countries. This naturally raises some questions as to exactly what Sen and Yukimura are after making a pact with Muneakira, plus what Yoshihiko was alluding to when he referred to Jubei as the natural one. From the sound of it, I presume that Jubei is someone that has the potential to become a “true” master samurai (whatever that means) and drive back the Amakusa threat. It would also explain why Gisen is interested in taking Jubei back to her master as well, who is likely Amakusa himself.
Given the series’ focus on the comedic aspect thus far, this big twist does serve as an awesome way of reigniting interest in the overarching plot. I’m still a bit wary about exactly how much of this will be covered in the remaining three episodes, but am secretly hoping it reaches some intermediary conclusion that leaves the door open to a sequel. After all, this latest development doesn’t appear to be something that was merely added for the sake of having a twist, seeing as Amakusa Shirou actually led the Shimabara Rebellion against the Tokugawa shogunate (a.k.a. Bakufu.) According to some sources, Shirou was related to Toyotomi Hideyori as well, which those familiar with some Japanese history will remember was at odds with Tokugawa Ieyasu. This leaves me wondering where Yukimura stands should that connection come into play, given that the Sanada clan is a vassal of the Toyotomi clan and why Hanzou was after her in episode one. As for the whole resurrection thing, I suspect that it might have something to do with the fact that Amakusa and his followers were largely Christians. The power of God versus the power of master samurai? I can see that being the epic clash they’re going for.
* The actual Tokugawa family crest, Maruni Mitsu Aoi, can be clearly seen in Yoshihiko’s secret lab.
* For those with seiyuu-honed ears, Yoshihiko teasing Nia in the bedroom may sound like Suzaku’s having his way with Kallen (CODE GEASS).