「災厄の舞台」 (Saiyaku no Butai)
“Stage of Disaster”
Even though it isn’t always working for me, in a way I really admire NO.6 to sticking to its guns. Nine episodes in and it’s still preposterously theatrical, comically sincere and terribly muddled. But at least it doesn’t sell itself out and try to be something it’s not.
Certainly, this show is the successor to the “brain” segment of NoitaminA, following in the path of Fractale and C. While the “heart” block of Hourou Musuko, AnoHana and now Usagi Drop has plowed ahead with three unqualified successes – at least in artistic if not always financial terms – the brain block has tended to suffer from grandiose ambition, sloppy writing and rushed conclusions. While I’d rank NO.6 as (just) the better than its two predecessors – especially C – it’s not immune from what ailed them. It’s becoming clear that BONES is trying hard to capture the essence of an awful lot of novel material into these four hours of anime, and as a result the story is starting to get lost in a flood of ideas, emotions and plotlines.
My conjecture that the Twilight House was in fact a kind of Logan’s Run turned out to be correct, if Yoming is to be believed – and as it wasn’t a terribly hard guess I’d think he’s probably right. In fact, the allusions to Nazism as regards the government of No. 6 are becoming more and more obvious as time goes by. Euthanizing those who aren’t any use to them, enslaving those that are – and if the storming of the “ghetto” of the West District, killing massive amounts of civilians before rounding up and loading the rest onto trucks, then unceremoniously dumping the prisoners like bricks of coal – these are about as obvious as allusions can get. If the goal is to give some historical perspective and to cement in our minds just how evil the government is, mission accomplished.
The evil was flowing pretty early in this episode, though. We’re reminded that Rikiga is basically a pimp as he delivers a special girl to one of his clients, a high-ranking official of No. 6. The “girl” is Dogkeeper and it’s all a plan to capture the official and torture him until he gives our heroes a map of the correctional facility, but what struck me here is how even now, I still can’t figure out what gender Dogkeeper is. Rikiga’s comment about a young girl looking like a boy could be taken either way, as could Shion’s reaction after hugging the stricken Dogkeeper – “Hey, you’re a-“ Just what did Shion feel – one lump or two? Above or below the equator? It’s pretty audacious of BONES to play these games so late in the series, but I’ll again salute them for going all-in with the absurdity. Whatever the gender, seeing Dogkeeper (who’s oddly emerged as my favorite character in the show) degraded like that was pretty harsh – a real no-punches pulled moment.
Nezumi got his chance to sing again this week, this time as a caged bird, and they let him finish his entire song. Again, I can’t think there are too many series that would have done that, or could have done it without looking comically stupid – but here, it sort of fit. Nezumi, of course, knows what he’s going to see on the inside and he prepares Shion by telling him that it will likely change him forever. Whatever it is, it’s almost assuredly tied in to the reason why No.6 needs all these prisoners and why Safu is being groomed for… something. That’s a nice cliffhanger, as my mind goes to ideas like Soylent Green or worse, but whatever it is, it’s surely pretty grisly. And just how do the parasitic wasps fit into all this?
Also a nice cliffhanger is Shion, Nezumi and their fellow prisoners being dropped into thin air with no hints as to what lies at the bottom of their descent – but given that being captured was the plan all along as the only way in to the facility, Nezumi presumably knows something besides death awaits at the bottom. On the inside, the city is preparing for it’s “Holy Day” celebrations and Karan appears to have lost her only ally in Yoming, who’s disgusted that she was involved in the founding of the city (I’m surprised he didn’t know that, given his background). Safu has awakened, and she’s heard the voice of Elyurias. Already she seems to be throwing a wrench into the plans of her captors, so perhaps it’s that path where hope lies. Shion the ultimate idealist still has grand plans of living happily with Nezumi, Safu (that could get interesting) and Karan as free folk outside No.6, but we’re a long way from that looking possible as things stand.
On a separate note, I’ve posted the Fall Season Preview over at my site. If anyone would care to check it out and let me know what you’re looking forward to this Fall, please stop by. At this point I don’t know which shows I’ll be covering here and which over there, but it looks like a pretty solid season – though with fewer overall series and more sequels than a typical Fall.