Night Raid 5, Arakawa 6, Maid-Sama 7

Senkou no Night Raid 5 gives us people on the outside looking in, and we the audience join Kazura in doing the looking. But we’re farther outside than he is, meaning what happens in this episode is partly unexplained. Kazura won’t tell us what he knows or why he’s following Nishiro.

He recognizes Nishiro’s face in a picture Aoi developed and immediately tries to track him down, leading to his abduction and beating at the hands of the Nationalist Party. After being freed he learns that Nishio was a spy for the Communists who infiltrated the Nationalists and procured some funds. Shin makes it quite clear that this and the subsequent arms deal going down have nothing to do with him and to stay out of things. Surprisingly, he doesn’t.

As for me, the viewer, there are two mysteries going on here. The first involve the various factions trying to take control, and who’s on whose side (Well, that’s always the case in this show). But more importantly, what the hell is Kazuna thinking? It’s not like him to disobey orders and cause trouble for his own group like this. The link to Nishio must be very strong. When the two meet, it’s not the best timing for Nishio. We get a few cryptic remarks from both and he runs off. We still don’t know what the connection is, or why Kazura continues to keep an eye on Nishio’s lover, Airin. It’s tough watching a show like this and trying to piece together the factions, even tougher when one of the characters won’t say anything, not even to his own group. On the other hand, Kazura’s motivations carry the episode and give it the human touch that the broader story cannot give us.

Arakawa Under the Bridge 6 takes up where we left off, with the musical showdown between Recruit and Hoshi.

I have to say I think the show works better when Recruit has at least some sort of command over circumstances. Just watching him being the figure of ridicule all the time isn’t all that interesting. I don’t expect him to have complete control, and indeed, though he wins the contest, Hoshi’s howl of despair becomes a hit under the bridge for months. “Freeloader! Freeloader!” But it’s good to see Recruit acting rather than reacting.

Recruit does pretty well for himself elsewhere, too. Still considered a freeloader, he manages to teach the kids to float using styrofoam kickboards, which makes them think he’s the coolest person alive. Nino is impressed.

Recruit has been looking for something to do down there so they’ll stop calling him a freeloader (while at the same time looking for a real job), and now maybe he’s found one: teacher! Of course, he runs into obstacles, changes his strategy, and finally abandons the idea. But that’s to be expected in this show. What works is that Recruit is more and more finding ways to fit in, or try to. I wonder if he realizes yet that his so-called elite breeding and fancy education are just his own schtick under the bridge, like Kappa’s suit or the kids’ helmets. Probably not.

Kaichou wa Maid-Sama 7 sets up a longer story arc concerning a rivalry between Seiko and an ultra-expensive school with a long name I didn’t get. Starting with an altercation between some students. Misaki drags the offenders to the rich school in order to apologize, only to get insulted. Heh. DO NOT insult Misa.

The rich kid is taken aback. Fun to watch, especially the admiring look Usui gives her, but given Misaki’s sense of honor and famous anger, predictable. So was the result, a chess duel between the rich kid and Usui. Guess who wins? Got it in one try!

Things get more interesting later. The rich school student leader takes an interest in Misaki and pays a visit to Seiko in order to flatter her, and to get her to transfer schools. On the surface this looks like a great deal for the impoverished Misaki. But the guy has ulterior motives, probably to make her his slave or something. Also, she’s just managing to turn the school’s reputation around (more scenes of delinquents turning to her side after she defends them). What will happen if she leaves?

He's doing it for Misaki's benefit. No, really.

This is an interesting enough problem, but Usui complicates it further. Noticing that Misaki hasn’t been able to focus since he kissed her, he kisses a guy, which turns her off of him. Well and good, but a flustered Misaki isn’t as much fun (Angry is best). Also, it means that when the rich school’s leader turns on his charm she is more open to it, and so to transferring. What’s more, Usui goes a bit further, and she snaps at him, tired of his games. For the time being Usui’s forced himself out of the romantic picture. You have to wonder if he planned it this way.

So we have a story arc (apart from the romance) going more than one episode for a change. Not that I minded the one-shot episodes, but it suggests that the show is now broadening its horizons. Could be good.

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