「赤い杭」 (Akai Kui)
“The Red Stake”
Um… gg Hanako? Putting the sheer wtf-ery aside, I actually really like where the producers are headed with this finale – it seems like an anime-original ending (is it?), and as a way to tie up all the loose ends, it’s certainly not a bad way to go about doing things. Some plot points are still left untouched and their relevance still not fully explained, but I’d rather ZETMAN focus on the few key individuals than trying to give a satisfactory ending to everyone involved. Given a choice, only the most important things should see resolution and in this case, it’s the issue of Jin coming to terms with who he is meant to be and who he himself wants to be. Thank the gods they’re bringing the conflict back to this instead of Kouga and his drivels of “justice”.
Kouga is on the fast-track to insanity, if his facial gymnastics are any indication. He shoots both his parents and shows no remorse. It could be the adrenaline rush, but with all his self-righteous speeches he spared this week, I’m more inclined to believe Hayami and Jirou succeeded in breaking his mind; all that matters to him is justice and preserving Alphas’ honor rather than actually trying to right any wrongs. Technically, aside from shooting his mother who was actually innocent of any wrongdoing, Kouga’s actions can be justified as “right” if we’re looking at justice as strictly a method that punishes evil. It’s obviously not that simple though, since his actions bring out a sense of unease and outright antagonism in viewers – they’re right, but they don’t feel “right”.
He certainly is not the right person to be preaching about evil, and I wonder if he’ll ever realize just how far he’s gone. Not even his three mechanics seem to care, and I actually had to laugh that they didn’t even realize he’d shot his own parents until Mayu pointed it out. Seriously, guys? That was before the cameras got shot… what were you watching? I know their loyalty is to Kouga, but it’s troubling when a fragile person like Kouga has no one around him to act as a limiter of sorts when his obsession with justice causes his moral compass to go out of hand. They’re feeding his behavior without regards to consequences it could have, and at the end of the day, the blame doesn’t rest solely with Kouga. Part of it rests on the people who enabled him to become that way, gave him the tools to run wild. Of course Kouga is the person ultimately responsible for his own actions, but would it really be the same for him now if he had had someone to stop him, to tell him to reevaluate himself and force him to consider the bigger picture?
It all boils down to the life he’s had up until now, which is fractured at best. It’s interesting to contrast him with Konoha because compared to him, she’s relatively normal when it comes to determining what “justice” is. I’m actually surprised the Amagi siblings are so different, since they’ve had the same upbringing.
Contrasting Kouga and Jin is also a fun thing to do, and how their childhood affected them as young adults is painfully clear here – Jin might not have had a luxurious life, but he had two loving guardian figures who strove to give him the best they could and gave their all to protect him when the need arose. Their love and sacrifice drive him even to this day, and it’s the memories he has from his childhood that differentiates him from the other Players, and from Kouga; he knows what it means to save people, and this is the kind of justice that resonates with the viewers.
I’m not sure how successful he’ll be at saving Hanako though – and let me take this moment to say I’m a little mollified now that I see she’s served a specific purpose. And the producers even managed to tie together what seemed like throwaway tidbits into a surprising twist! I always figured Hanako was going to die, and the revelation she’s a Player doesn’t necessarily draw my sympathy, but it actually gives her a viable reason to be killed than simply dying for the sake of torturing Jin. Now she has to die because that hideous form (and it’s actually one of the grossest transformation this show has to offer) is apparently permanent – a little too convenient, but hey, the if the end result is some angsty drama, I’ll take it. The kicker is, of course, the fact Jin will most likely be the one to kill her. It’s also possible Kouga will be the one to do so when Jin shows hesitation, leading to an epic show-down between the two. Either way though, it’s going to be a messy end and how much emotional impact the scene has will be determined by how much of Hanako’s character was “real”.
Personally, I would like to believe those corny scenes were real, no matter how cheesy and cringe-inducing they were. But Seiji’s interference throws a wrench into things, as well as the fact Hanako’s Player form is the Sand Monster the police has been chasing. I guess the important question is whether or not she was ever conscious when she killed those people; the answer to that will probably naturally lead to whether or not her feelings were real. It’s possible she was unaware of her Player side, but none of the other Players in the show has ever shown that kind of behavior, so I’m not sure what to think.
But tl;dr: epic showdown ahead! Let’s go out in a blaze of glory and blood, ZETMAN!
P.S.: Yes… Seiji was always there…
P.P.S.: I don’t know if “some weight” cuts this – it’s actually kind of unreal how huge she gets.
Full-length images: 30.