Home > Episode Reviews, Senkou no Night Raid > Senkou no Night Raid Episode 8 – (Atom [Splitting) Up the Party]

Senkou no Night Raid Episode 8 – (Atom [Splitting) Up the Party]

Well, it looks like I have to break out the Wikipedia magic again, as Senkou no Night Raid continues to introduce historical figures and events into the main plot line. This time we have the formation of Manchukou, the introduction of the puppet emperor Puyi, and the members of the Lytton Commission. What happens in the episode, however, has nothing to do with the actual historical record.

Rather, the show is going ahead with its particular plot line, that of nationally known “prophets” showing up at crucial turning points of history and of Isao’s band of freedom fighters/terrorists agitating for an independent Asia. The events of Night Raid don’t directly contradict real life events, but they don’t particularly relate to them either.

Puyi’s character design is based on his real life appearance. Night Raid does a good job of representing historical figures, if not their languages

In this particular episode, most of the plot line relates to the kidnapping (unknown to history) of the Lytton Committee members, by none other than Isao himself, who again seems to demonstrate the ability to render people unconscious at whim. While he collects a ransom from both the Japanese (represented by Mr. Sakurai and his team) and the Chinese, his real purpose is to inform the Committee members about the extent of his power, so they will inform their respective governments.

Although it’s not clear how, Isao detonates the equivalent of a low yield nuclear device in the middle of the Taklamakan desert, with the Lytton committee members (each under the impression the others aren’t watching) understanding that similar weapons will be deployed against the colonial powers unless they free their colonies. With that threat in mind, pressure only continues to mount on Mr. Sakurai and his team to locate and stop Isao.

Sakurai thinks the entire explosion could have been staged by an illusion power, but no one is willing to take that chance

As it happens, it seems the scientist discussed in episode two (whose work Kraniev was trying to smuggle out) might have done the research to let Isao make his weapon, and so the search turns to Dr. Ichinose, a colleague of the dead scientist who joined up with Isao when they were both still part of the Kwantang Army. For all save Kazura, that is, who is assigned to a bodyguard mission instead.

Puyi’s role in all this, as it happens, is that as a concession for cooperating with the Japanese, he wants to see the Japanese “prophet.” Whether Sakurai knows of Aoi’s connections with the girl or not, he specifically makes sure that it is Kazura, and not Aoi, who joins her security team. That doesn’t keep Aoi from seeing her through a train window, however, and with Yukina’s help he confirms that she really is Shizune, the woman he thought was dead.

Once again we have a Japanese actor who can’t speak English and an native English speaker (with the wrong accent) who can’t act

All this prophet business raises more issues than it resolves, and not in a good way. It’s not just positing a different behind-the-scenes conspiracy than the real one implemented by the Kwantang Army, but also positing her having a role which is quasi-known both to the Japanese elite and, now, to others in Asia. It’s one thing for her to have superpowers—everyone has superpowers in this show—but another for her to be practically a government functionary.

Complaints aside, this episode does do a great job of bringing out individual elements of drama and character development from its leads. Aoi and Kazura get another political discussion which, while more polite than their one in episode four, still has Kazura idealizing everything Japan does and Aoi regarding the whole mess with a deep degree of cynicism and distaste.

It’s interesting that the normally dour Kazura gets labeled the “optimist” in this conversation

There’s also some conflict between Yukina and Aoi, as the Yukina takes Aoi’s comment that he likes clumsy girls as an insult to her competence. Having just been asked by Sakurai to consider leaving the team to avoid future conflict with her brother Isao (and having her memories of her intelligence work removed in the process), she has cause to wonder if her involvement was only allowed to bait out Isao, rather than for her skills.The episode manages to express her self-doubt and personal conflict in having to face her brother, albeit in an understated fashion. Night Raid continues its trend of avoiding histrionics, for which we all can be grateful.

Ultimately, though, it’s Aoi’s show, so the episode ends with him, having seen his supposedly dead love for the first time in years, hitching a ride on a train departing in the same direction. Given that Shizune is protected by a bodyguard team that includes the no-nonsense Kazura, this is a very impulsive and probably unwise move on Aoi’s part, which is also quite part of his character.

Aoi has just ditched his mission, doesn’t have a plan to get past the guard detail, and isn’t even on the right train yet. Typical

I think that, if I could just get my annoyance at the entire prophet concept out of my head, I’d have really enjoyed this episode. While it’s mostly set-up for the conflicts that will fuel the second half of the show (dealing with Isao’s band and figuring out whatever Shizune is planning), it employs its cast effectively and manages to keep the audience informed of the actual historical record even while taking the plot in completely unhistorical directions. That Japan is still coming in for criticism through the mouthpiece of Aoi is an added bonus.

What isn’t clear is how or if either Isao or Shizune’s further plans will effect any historical events. Given how they handled the Mukden Incident last time, I’m hoping that it won’t at all and that the colonial encroachment of China by Japan will speak for itself. But what does seem clear is that the team is slowly coming apart.

You can watch this episode here.

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