「荒野の五人, もしくは十一人」 (Kouya no Gonin, Moshikuwa Juuichinin)
“The Magnificent Five, or Eleven”
We’re going straight to the Wild Wild West in the fourth episode as the next alternate fragment the girls are stuck in has transported them into a version of their town inspired by Western films. It is a surreal twist given that they are led into this unusual dimension in the lieu of Asuka and Mia watching a cowboy movie the night before, but the world presented has an interesting aesthetic. It is constructed similarly to the Naruto universe with a fusion of architecture from older eras and newer technology like phones and cars. Duels also have a 21st century twist as they are televised and take place of the court-room where judges preside over trials by combat. Some find the system an unethical and uncivilized relic that causes more harm to society than good such as Chloe and Nana’s bandit variants, who rob banks to take care of children of those who died during duels, and Sheriff Hakuma, who hopes to one day reform the law so that he can put criminals on trial without having to face a duel to the death. It is fascinating how the show has been able to construct its parallel dimensions as in-depth and thoroughly in spite of them being featured in only a couple episodes before they are retired.
In this universe, it’s Mia’s turn to have to reflect on her motivations and interests. The beginning scene establishes that she has a challenging time contending with her mother’s caring albeit strict demeanor as she disapproves of the violence in the movie Mia is watching. While she’s perfectly fine with her, this behavior is reflected in her Western version’s existence as she finds herself in contention with how dangerous Mia’s interest in being a deputy was. However, there is a clearer sign of this issue being something that can be easily resolved just by talking with one another as Mia’s mom in this universe is more supportive of her dangerous job after seeing the resolve that this fragment’s Mia had to become a deputy to protect her town. There’s definitely a difference between becoming an officer and watching an action movie, but I can see Mia’s takeaway from this fragment being both that she needs to evaluate her idea of justice and that she needs to be closer with her mother regarding her interests.
Although we are looking to see more of Mia with this fragment’s developments, this episode also gave other members of the Radio Club some time to shine. In this universe, Chloe and Nana’s status as outlaws bring out potential for the duo to hang out as acquaintances, offering the chance to see the odd couple dynamics between the down-to-earth yet laidback Nana and the serious and inquisitive Chloe. In light of Nana having a Walkman given to her as a device to shift into her equalizer form, it also offers up the possibility of the two working together with Nana’s physical abilities combined with Chloe’s intellect and intuition to fully comprehend the nature of this fragment. On top of this Yuu’s variations are also very interesting as she was definitely behind getting the girls to come to the Western fragment and would have an ulterior motive for wanting our main cast to commit a robbery alongside this fragment’s Chloe and Nana. There are some other small tidbits like this fragment’s Yuu getting handsy with Asuka, this fragment’s Asuka becoming a bounty hunter because her parents were victims of their society’s dueling system, and Seriousuka not being above stealing from Asuka’s shack. However, much of the fun in the next episode should come from the consequences behind the shifting focuses between Sheriff Deputy Mia, the main club being with the outlaw versions of Chloe and Nana, and bounty hunter Asuka taking the real Chloe and Nana under arrest.