「金x絆」 (Kane x Kizuna)
“Money x Bonds”
As Hataage! Kemono Michi nears its final stretch, we see small hints of excitement circling around a new competition centered around Genzou fighting MAO in a climactic rematch. However, the pomp and circumstance behind their reunion and the eventual battle don’t reach its apex until the end of the episode.
One major issue is that it is saddled into an episode where Misha and Wolfgang return to sell Hiroyuki, causing a majority of the ep to center around Genzou trying to get his furry companion back. There thankfully isn’t any molestation subtext circling around the episode considering that the kidnapping causes Genzou to vow off of wanting to cuddle Wolfgang’s fur. But at the same time, it diffuses the building tension of MAO returning to the fold as a legitimate threat when we’re constantly being side-lined by other comedy hijinks and overdone running gags that have overstayed their welcome.
It doesn’t help that their reunion is constantly stonewalled by how relaxed Genzou is about this whole situation. MAO, a co-worker and rival from his original world, somehow appears in this world and his hellbent on fighting him, and all Genzou does is act mildly amused by MAO’s challenge. He treats MAO like he just came back from the grocery store with his favorite snacks. It really diffuses any kind of threat that MAO could be when Genzou response to him even arriving in this new world is to be pleasantly surprised.
However, this episode was a huge step-up from the last one by at least giving the show more to work with. There is a smidge of build-up that can be considered proper when Joanna helps initiate the tournament as a way to get rid of Genzou, Hanako, and Camilla. With Joanna’s interpretation of a wrestling match as a fight-to-the-death, it places actual tension in some of the fights that will be happening in the ring. Genzou and MAO would spare each other, but Joanna and Rose would go in for the kill if given the chance. Part of these concerns arrives tenfold when Camilla shifts into a more serious demeanor when she asks Genzou to help train her to wrestle.
Additionally, there were some hilarious moments centered around the Hiroyuki plotline such as Camilla laughing at Genzou’s tears, the number of times the wealthy father kept having to lower the amount he requested for Hiroyuki to make his daughter stop crying, Rose shouting hypeman chatter while Joanna is discussing wanting to have MAO challenge Genzou, and Camilla’s desperate ploy to get Hanako to rub lotion on her stomach where she has been regularly punched throughout the episode. Hopefully, they’re able to keep this level of momentum going when the training and tournament arcs arrive.