Home > Episode Reviews, Senkou no Night Raid > Senkou no Night Raid Episode 3 – Opening Moves

Senkou no Night Raid Episode 3 – Opening Moves

For the past couple episodes I’ve been waiting for Night Raid to show me its full potential. It had several promising pieces floating around, but nothing that seemed to put them all together. This is episode is where the show finally kicks into gear, revealing the first hints of the overarching plot and bringing in a proper mix character development, action, and the unique form of intrigue that has characterized the series. I wonder if it’s a coincidence that many of the shows this season have waited until their third episode to finally show their merit

The show begins with both a narrative and an actual bang. First, Yukina receives a letter from her missing brother, Takachiho Isao, who apologizes for being out of contact for so long and asks her to meet with a messenger the following day. Before the day is out, however, a department store under construction is bombed, with a threat placed to bomb the other three, already finished department stores that comprise one of the economic centers of Shanghai. The team’s handler, Mr. Sakurai, notes to Aoi and Kazura that the perpetrators must have some other motive than sheer destruction; otherwise they would have blown all the bombs at once, or at least hit an occupied store.

Yukina, who was with Natsume in one of the stores as the bomb went off, contacts Aoi with her ability. The bomber, it seems, deliberately placed the images of the bomb’s locations in her mind as he passed her, and she passes it along telepathically. Kazura and Aoi split up to take to two remaining stores, and the three of them begin the search for the exact locations of the bombs based on the hints.

Aoi also winds up rescuing a Chinese girl who missed the evacuation, presumably to show what a good person he is

Just to make things more difficult, the team gets attacked at several points by what turns out to be another teleporter, who pops between buildings to harry the various team members. Confronting Yukina, he claims be there to take her to her brother—which would explain his military uniform—but fails to do so before Natsume interferes. I’m not certain if this is a plot hole (he could have easily teleported away with her and there was no one around with the ability to stop him) or if it’s important that Yukina comes freely for some reason.

If the previous episodes were about the team functioning as a well-honed unit, this one is more about the individual members shining through maximizing their own abilities to the full. The abilities of each team member are remarkable simple and well known in the genre, but the show goes the extra mile to make each way they are utilized unique.

Kazura shows the enemy teleporter that two can play at that game

I won’t rehash all the tricks employed, but the way in which each member deals with their respective bombs is a good example. Kazura teleports his bomb to the bottom of the bay, Aoi uses telekinesis to knock his high in the air before setting it off, and Yukina employs object reading to figure out how to disarm hers without so.

They come together back on the roof of one of the stores to confront the bomber, who has yet another trick up his sleeve, poison gas in balloons, ready to be released at the press of a button. He also reveals that he is a moderate mind reader in addition to being a telepath, and that he knows that Yukina signed up solely to look for her brother in China. As such, he considers in an obvious choice that she will agree to come with him.

Aoi’s fight on the rooftop before Yukina arrives is kinetic and graceful, but over too quickly

Instead, Yukina uses his own mind reading ability to trick him, by communicating false information to her comrades via telepathy that she knows he can intercept. Catching him off guard, she and Aoi take out the trigger mechanism and he is forced to flee. Debriefing them later, Mr. Sakurai notes that this was likely only a recon mission, with the purpose of testing the group’s abilities. Isao’s unit is still at large, and should now be considered enemies.

Whether they really are the villains of the show has yet to be seen, however. Absolutely no one was killed during the events and, given the evacuation of the buildings, the bombs wouldn’t have hurt anyone even if they went off. Likewise, we never find out if the poison gas is a real threat. Mr. Sakurai is also far too dismissive of what this turn of events will mean for Yukina, blithely asserting that as Isao is now an enemy, Yukina will know whom to favor. I’m guessing that Sakurai is an only child.

After three episodes, we discover that Mr. Sakurai’s silent bodyguard can erase memories. It’s always the quiet ones for some reason

Certainly, the show is going to create an alternative history where Isao and his followers play a crucial role in upcoming events, but whether they will be painting as the true villains who caused the Manchurian Incident or the “noble” Japanese who tried to stop it is unclear; although the latter path would at least keep the blame where it belongs, it still could serve to whitewash the Japanese as a whole from their responsibility. Not as good would be creating a narrative where Isao’s group is responsible. Even with the historical disclaimer Night Raid presents each time, you have to ask why a group would create an alternate history that completely reassigns responsibility for controversial events, if not to whitewash its own past.

Whatever my hesitation about its underlying motives, Night Raid has finally produced an episode that introduces a vivid and ongoing threat, personal conflict, and no small amount of action, together with the slick animation and innovative use of superpowers that have characterized this show from the beginning. After a rocky early start, this series is finally turning into something, narratively speaking, that is worth waiting for each week.

You can watch this episode here.

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