“The Genius Comes On A Tank”
Sawa reveals she was the mole amongst the good guys (again!) but fortunately Sentou has devised a cunning backup plan.
Unfortunate title aside, this was probably the best way the show could have wrapped up the slightly all over the place ‘mole’ arc without resorting to some kind of ludicrous twist. That it’s still sort of underwhelming speaks to how poorly implemented a lot of the story has been, and how sort of dismissive this blow off is.
I think most of us with a brain realised that Sentou had already guessed Sawa was the mole, and so the question wasn’t so much whether he’d get out of Rogue’s counterattack but rather how he’d do it. The show does do a decent job of establishing why Sawa would turn traitor for a second time, which was something of a glaring plot hole, but in doing so it opens up a few new questions. The story goes out of its way to show that she is one of the ‘Nanba Children’, who we’ve been told are die-hard loyalists conditioned to obey him unconditionally. She even reveals that her earlier Smashification was a ruse, something which clashes with what we saw at the time, but OK. The problem though is that apparently Nanba then tried to sell her out for no reason, and she subsequently turned against him and had to be coerced into handing over the RabbitRabbit data.
There’s quite a few issues that all of this raises. Firstly, why did Nanba attempt to sell her out to the Touto government when she was apparently still completely loyal to him at that time? The idea that she was swayed by the love Sentou and company showed her is a little hackneyed but perfectly acceptable, but it’s rendered somewhat facile by the fact that she just hasn’t been a very important character in the show for quite some time now, and we haven’t really had many decent scenes of her bonding with the rest of the cast. Just a few episodes ago we were seeing that Nanba’s indoctrination was so extreme his agents were happy to commit suicide for him, yet Sawa was swayed by these chuckleheads? There was a good, long-term story to be told about how she was gradually won over, but it feels like they sacrificed that possibility for the chance of a swerve. It also feels pretty cheap to use Nabeshima’s family as hostages, since they were one shot characters from 20 episodes ago who we haven’t seen since. In any case Kazumi rescues them so easily that it seems almost inconsequential. Why couldn’t Sawa have arranged for this rescue to happen before the tournament even started, if finding them was so easy it could apparently be done before two matches were over?
With all that said, it does provide a decent reason for Sawa to be both the mole but still fundamentally on the side of the angels, and the show manages to pull off the not insignificant feat of keeping all these various plates spinning without descending into too much heavy-handed exposition. There’s a fun payoff too, as I enjoyed TankTank’s debut a fair bit more than RabbitRabbit’s. It reaches the level of shockingly dumb I need out of a powerup and there’s definitely a level of stupid glee to be had from seeing Sentou roll around as a ridiculous human tank like Hiroshi Fujioka did in that one noodle commercial.
The episode’s denouement is pretty neat as well, as we see Nanba fittingly giving zero fucks about the supposed rules of the tournament, and Blood Stark returning to pad his already impressive body count by offing the surprisingly honourable Prime Minister Mido. I’m absolutely down for a run of Nanba as fake Prime Minister, particularly if it means we get more of Norimasa Fuke’s awesomely over the top acting. This wasn’t a perfect way to cap out this arc of Build, but they’re still trying hard at least, and that’s encouraging. It looks like we’re going back to all-out war from next week, and that’s got my interest piqued about how exactly they’re going to play it from here.
- More cool visual tricks as flashbacks are projected ‘in world’ onto parts of the background. It’s nice to see the crew experimenting with new ways to get these story elements in without resorting to normal stock footage.
- Having Nabeshima’s daughter appear on screen but neither of her parents is a pretty blatant cost cutting measure to be honest.
- Prime Minister Himuro has Gentoku right there, with security right beside him, and yet still doesn’t arrest or detain him! His exhortation to come home is a pretty touching moment to be fair, but he really should have moved straight to tasers after that.
- Misora’s slap on Sawa is bad. Put your back into it!