「鰓呼吸ブルース」 (Era Kokyuu Buruusu)
Today’s reminder: Don’t get drunk in Hellsalem’s Lot. Ever.
We’re still main-character-of-the-week mode, and this time it’s Zed O’Brien. Which, if we’re going to do episodes focused on Libra members, he’d be one of my top picks (K.K., Zed, Steven, & Chain, in roughly that order—though Chain’s ep underwhelmed, and Steven’s was only partially focused on him). Zed just sort of showed up during the first season, and while we got to know him well enough by seeing how he interacted with everyone in a larger story, giving him some time in the limelight is appreciated.
(Side note: It’s also what’s wrong with this season. A good author doesn’t need to do episodes (or chapters) focused primarily/exclusively on fleshing out specific characters, because they can do it within the context of a larger plot, or do several at once so their subplots intertwine. And I know Nightow-sensei can do this, because he made Trigun fer chrissakes! (Those were an emphasis italics, not just here’s-a-series-title italics.) It’s puzzlingly lazy, and director Matsumoto Rie was wise to remix/add to the source material as she did during the first season. But I’ve said variations of this before, so moving on.)
I didn’t pick Zed for such a sensitive and lonely soul, though it doesn’t surprise me, showing that his characterization up to this point (when he wasn’t the focus) was done well. The funny thing is that Zed didn’t end up being the most interesting character this episode, at least to me. His development was in the surface-level text, so it was clear to see—he’s lonely as the only fish-man hybrid, he thought he was a burden, but his friends helped him, and he even found something special he could do (that was an especially sweet moment, by the way). It was in the subtext that I found the nugget that most drew my eye, and it concerned Zapp.
Zapp is a bully. When he started talking about how he doesn’t hesitate to strike back against those who humiliate him, that became crystal clear. Not that he hasn’t always done stuff like that, but there’s a difference between someone who has bullying tendencies and someone who’s a full-on bully. (Think of the former as a switch, and the later as something you are.) Zapp is the latter. His entire way of interacting with life is that of a bully, and if he has any redeeming quality (debatable at times), it’s this: he’s our bully. Which, er. Yay?
I mean, I get it. I understand the allure of the bully who is on our side. To use a political example (no, not him, though he counts too), think of soon-to-be-former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. During the brief period in which he was popular, he made some serious hay out of being a bully, but on the people’s side. Or at least, on the side of the people who weren’t idiots. Even I’ll admit that I enjoyed watching him rip apart a fool or two, and I’m a big proponent of civility in politics. (Also, boredom. Dear gods, give us back our boring politics please.) And that’s what Zapp is—a bully, but one who will get mad for Zed’s sake. Which, once again: yay?
Because he was the main reason Zed thought he was a bother, wandered off, got drunk, and was subsequently mugged. Zapp is still an asshole, and the best thing Kekkai Sensen does with his character is beat the crap out of him. Whether someone breaks his arm, threatens to rip off his Freedom Magnum, shatters his entire body, or everything Chain does to him, the more he suffers, the better. Kekkai Sensen is generally good about depicting him as a terrible person whose life isn’t that great, which is how it should be, because the dissonance in giving Zapp anything but the most limited of praise would be HUGE. This episode is about the most I want to see of that. And I could do with more Zed too, as long as it’s tied into a larger narrative instead of being sequestered in its own little island. Or perhaps I should say, its own fish bowl.
- I did like the villain this episode. Not only is a villainous Yukarin always appreciated, but they quickly emphasized the points of “She’s extremely competent” and “She thinks she can have anything she wants”, which naturally led to the comeuppance of “You got too arrogant.” All without even bother with a name, which is good because it woulda been a waste. That worked well.
- Also fun: some of the facial expressions this time. Definitely amping up the hilarious reaction faces!
- What is this, an issue of Atomic Robo? Put the pilot on the inside! Though that was one helluva Checkov’s Gun, I’ll give them that.
- Pennies? Really? What a bunch of dicks.
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