Home > Episode Reviews, Senkou no Night Raid > Senkou no Night Raid Episode 4 – Odd Couple Ad Nauseum

Senkou no Night Raid Episode 4 – Odd Couple Ad Nauseum

Ah, the odd couple episode. To say that paring two unlike personalities together and making them work for a common goal is a staple of all fiction genres is sort of like saying that the Sahara isn’t a good place to take your pet fish. And there’s a reason for that: the trope provides a quick and easy way to create and maintain interpersonal drama between people who are otherwise unified toward a common goal. Watching two people who don’t necessarily see eye to eye work toward and achieve said goals, so long as it doesn’t reach a “after-school special” level of schmaltziness, typically makes for good drama.

The problem is that Night Raid has already clearly established an odd couple pairing between Kazura and Aoi. The very first episode was practically a point-by-point exposition of their different styles. Kazura was dour and Aoi cheerful, Kazura by the book and Aoi flexible and spontaneous, Kazura reluctant to use his powers to the point of near suicide and Aoi so overblown in his power usage than he tapped out a critical moment. Clearly, each has much to learn from the other.

So why is this a problem? Because the current episode of Night Raid is devoted entirely to demonstrating that Aoi and Kazura are an unlikely paring that still can work well together. This is something watchers would have to have been deaf and blind not to have noticed by now.

Another thing anyone not deaf has figured out by this point is that Aoi can’t play the violin worth crap

Odd couple relationships don’t have to be resolved, ignored, or abandoned to keep from being stale, but they do have to be placed in the context of something greater. The crime-fighting odd couple, established in shows such as Bones and Castle (to name just two currently airing) works because the couple, as much as they squabble, share a common desire to see justice done. (And, frequently, because of unresolved sexual tension between the leads.) This set-up, minus the sexual tension, is how the first episode worked, and it went fine.

In this episode, however, there is no serious threat or conflict where they have to unite. Instead, the two get roped into helping their Chinese hostess with a photography project, then have to go on a search when those photos go missing. No lives are on the line or secrets threatened; they are just trying to find a sack of undeveloped photos of food dishes. That doesn’t make for good drama.

Watching the first half of this episode might leave you hungry, but it won’t make you excited

I suppose I should provide some greater description of the plot, although the above paragraph summarizes it fairly well. Fuu Lan, the Chinese girl with whom they share lodgings, is worried that the restaurant across the street from the one she works at is going to steal away all their customers with its advertising: wax imitations of its food platters on display. She wants Aoi and Kazura to take photographs of her dishes to serve as an counter-advertisement, and the two of them goad each other into taking up the challenge.

Later, as the pair have stopped by a restaurant on the way to develop the film, they realize that the bag has gone missing. Knowing that it contains not only the fruits of their labor over the past few hours, but also some photos from a superior’s family vacation, they split up to try to find it, Aoi using his connections with a local information dealer, while Kazura utilizes his own contacts. Both independently wind up at the hideout of the local thieves gang, but they soon realize that, with using their powers not being an option, that they won’t be able to take them all safely. About to abandon the project, they then see a cat pass by, with the bag in question draped over him.

Forced plot contrivances FTW!

The subsequent chase eventually has them run into Yukina and Natsume, and the latter recognizes that particular cat and gives them a lead. They find that cat back at Fuu Lan’s restaurant, seeking to pilfer some steamed buns; the smell of the buns lingering on Aoi’s bag is what caused the cat to take it in the first place. Photos are retrieved and the problem is solved.

Throughout the episode, Aoi and Kazura’s different styles are evident, from Aoi’s off-the-cuff emotivism verses Kazura’s technical precision in the photography work, to the fact they take different routes but wind up in the same place both searching for the suspected thief and chasing after the cat. But at the end of the day, who cares? It’s a roll of personal photos. Perhaps the writers were hoping that the lighthearted situation would make everything funnier, but it actually makes it all pointless.

Natsume might just be embarrassed because he’s admitted that he’s a cat lover, or because he’s in this failure of an episode. Take your pick

It also doesn’t help that Yukina, dining later with Mr. Sakurai, makes the explicit point that the two work well to complement the other even if they don’t always get along. Ms. Bearer-of-the-moral-of-the-story also assures him, and us, that neither approach is right or wrong, but that both benefit from having the other around. Why, thank you for spelling out the point of the story; I’m certain we poor watchers of the show couldn’t possibly have figured that out on our own.

If there is a silver lining to the episode, it’s the conversation Aoi and Kazura share at the restaurant. Seeing men in military uniform sparks a conversation between the two, which leads to Aoi eventually asserting that Japan shouldn’t take a role in deciding how China’s internal affairs should be handled. Kazura finds this ridiculous and offensive, and the two seem close to blows when Aoi notices that the bag is missing and they launch the search.

Thank you, Japanese military, for adding some seriousness back into this show. Now, get with the pillaging already

This is the one we have hint that the writers not only haven’t forgotten the political situation currently bubbling, but still have plans to get our heroes firmly embroiled in it. What’s more, we have hints that this particular odd couple might be facing a future break-up; whenever the major conspiracy/plot hits and the Japanese get much more aggressively involved in dictating Chinese internal affairs, it’s possible the team will actually split. And that will be a conflict that might be worth seeing.

You can watch this episode here.

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