「復讐者・2」 (Fukushuu-sha 2)
Planet With certainly hasn’t been a restrained sort of series at any point since its inception. But this was the most balls-out crazy episode so far to be sure – a densely packed explosive device full of plot, spectacle and absurdity. One thing you know about Mizukami Satoshi if you’ve read any of his manga – this guy is a huge anime fan. I don’t know if I’d call him an otaku necessarily, but he’s clearly in love with the medium of anime and the trappings that go along with it.
As such, I can only imagine (though it’s pure speculation) that there must be a a certain frustration for Mizukami-sensei at never having any of his works adapted. Until now, of course. There’s been a real sense of gleeful abandon to Planet With right from the beginning – none of Mizukami’s series are restrained by any means, but this one is especially exuberant. Almost as if he’s like a kid who’s just been given the keys to a brand new sports car – I mean, you’re not going to keep it under 40 and use it to run errands to the corner store, are you? No, he’s taking it out on the highway and seeing what it has under the hood – trying to pack as much anime into one series as a writer possibly can.
It’ll be up to the individual viewer to decide how that works for them, of course, but for those of us who’ve been waiting for this development for many years, Planet With is an exhilarating ride. I was hoping we might get a little bit longer sequence with Nezuya’s visions inside the Nebula beast, but I couldn’t help thinking of how much fun Mizukami must have had writing that ludicrous scene. I suspect there may end up being more to this subplot than its humorous treatment in the episode suggests – I can’t help but notice that Nezuya-kun still hadn’t woken up by the time it ended. Perhaps there are side effects if one’s psychological journey is interrupted halfway?
The problem here is that Haru isn’t satisfied to have defeated the Nebula beast (and endangered her colleague) – revenge for Miu-chan is very much on her mind. She sets off to find the Nebula soldier who defeated Miu, accompanied by the last two Paladins to properly engage with the story – Takatori Benika (Ishigami Shizuka) and Hitsujitani Yousuke (Okitsu Kazuyuki), who seems to follow her pretty much everywhere, puppy-dog fashion. Haru is insistent that they not interfere in her grudge match with Souya, but that proscription will be out the window soon enough…
It’d already been hinted at (and Ryuuzouji’s name was an obvious tell) but it is indeed the dragon’s power that the Paladins are using to play superhero. Just to step back – this is the same power we know destroyed Souya’s home world of Sirius, which certainly calls into question the already questionable motives behind that group. The initial alliances of the series were already starting to fray – with the events of this episode, they’re effectively shattered. When Souya destroys both Haru’s mecha arms, she uses her powers to regrow them (in rather grotesque form), but in doing so is consumed by that power, becoming a dragon herself. This leaves Benika and Yousuke with no choice but to throw in with Souya, shuffling the cards in such a way that they’re likely never going to be restored to their prior configuration.
The fight is pretty thrilling, a real barnburner, but it’s also quite disastrous on all fronts. Haru completely loses herself in her mad desire to destroy Souya – it’s only the fact that the area has been evacuated due to the presence of the giant sensei-ship that massive collateral damage is avoided from her Godzilla-like fireballs. In order to try and stop dragon-Haru Sensei is forced to rely on “cat doping” – a can of “Matanbi Z” (catnip’s Latin name is Matatabi), a super power-up but one guaranteed to cause a hangover the next day (for both mech and pilot). In the end it’s only Miu’s entreaties (communicated with Ginko’s help) that finally reach Haru and allow the Souyabot and Haru’s allies to bring the situation under control. Ginko gets something in exchange for her help, though – Haru’s vial of dragon power.
When Benika confronts Ryuuzouji in the aftermath of this debacle, he admits – quite proudly – that as she’d suspected his plan is basically one of global conquest, a “uniform” way of being that he will impose on the world. The Paladin faction is pretty much a shambles at this point – Torai, Miu and Haru have all lost their powers, Benika has resigned the group in disgust, and since Yousuke seems to shadow her every move, it’s very possible he’ll follow. That would leave only Takashi’s dad and the still-comatose Nezuka-kun on his team – and the uber-suspicious Shiraishi, of course. I don’t know if a formal alliance between the rebel Paladins and the Pacifist Faction is imminent, but it certainly seems inevitable – and the battle lines for the future of the Earth will coalesce around these two poles.