Home > Episode Reviews, Senkou no Night Raid > Senkou no Night Raid Episode 10 – New Resolution

Senkou no Night Raid Episode 10 – New Resolution

The last two episodes left our heroes demoralized and off-center, calling into question the basic motivations that have been driving their work. For Yukina, this relates to her questioning her value as a member of the team, and her purpose with her search for her brother turning into a hunt. The recent psychic trauma of a possible nuclear armageddon is only the most recent blow.

Aoi has always gotten by in life with a casual disregard for the rules and a devotion to love and humanity—not to mention having a good time—over duty, restraint, and loyalty to Japan above all else. Having now realized that the love of his life has chosen the very things he has rejected, and in doing so rejected him, he’s left having to come back shamefaced to Mr. Sakurai, with nothing left but to serve a country he frequently finds in the wrong.

Both of them have come to a decision point, where they need to come to grips with the past and move on. Of course, it’s up to the strong silent stereotype, Natsume, to provide the means.

Natsume pretends not to get the joke, but he’s still smiling

Natsume himself is still something of a cypher, but he gets more lines in this episode, I think, than in all the previous ones combined. What little we see of him shows him to be a bit of a simple and self-effacing man, but also one who knows how to care for his comrades. Unlike his teammates, Natsume didn’t join with any greater goal in mind other than helping Yukina—a goal now expanded to the entire team. So he is uniquely immune to crises of conscience or resolve.

Almost instinctively knowing what to do, he helps Aoi calm down and realize that the best way to move forward is to offer support for the suffering Yukina. Yukina, with the full strength of the team behind her, can summon the courage to face the horrific vision of nuclear annihilation, and recommit to her role—which is invaluable—in helping the team.

Despite knowing that his model Kanji Ishiwara was responsible for the Mukden incident, Kazura is still enmeshed in his ideals

With that heartwarming moment established, it only remains for the show to break what tenuous peace has been achieved. (We do need a conflict for the plot, after all.) So, on a routine and frankly unimportant mission to check into smuggling at a port, Kazura is forcibly “borrowed” by Isao, who has switched his recruitment target. For a kidnapper, Isao is quite polite, but he has a deeper purpose in mind.

Isao, like Kazura, is an admirer of Kanji Ishiwara, even if he is a bit skeptical about the ultimate utility of the latter’s Mukden Incident. This isn’t, as one would expect from episode six, that Isao is opposed to Japanese colonialism; he just doesn’t think that such actions will force the acknowledgement of the Asian countries by the West. Rather, he has in mind a more cataclysmic conflict, a world war to earn the Asian nations a place at the table just as the Great War, in his view, led to the end of conflict in Europe. (Which it didn’t, of course, but most observers of the time period thought it had.)

I’ll give some kudos for the writers not merely knowing about Kipling’s “The Ballad of East and West” but employing it properly

Isao’s development of nuclear weapons—which is implied might have come from seeing the future, although this is unclear—is part of that. With such weapons, Asia can sufficiently terrify the European powers into decolonizing. For Kazura, who has grown up believing in the greatness of Japan and who listened, with admiration, to similar ideas being expressed by Kanji Ishiwara years ago, the idea of challenging the West is far too tempting.

Isao, as promised, delivers Kazura back to his team at the specified meeting point. Aoi and company, of course, are not content with merely getting back their own, and pull off a well-coordinated trap to take Isao down. But Isao is one step ahead of them, as coming personally and undefended to return Kazura was necessary to force a decision. Faced with the unavoidable choice of either betraying his comrades or letting Isao’s plans unravel, Kazura finds his own new resolve and helps Isao escape.

It’s a great trap to catch Isao, and would have made him look foolish for coming alone …

If Night Raid has been able to do one thing consistently, it’s surprise me. I suspected that Kazura would eventually split with Aoi on ideological grounds, but I didn’t expect Kazura to betray, at least on paper, the Japanese government as a result. I expected that Isao would oppose to the Kwantang Army, not that both would pursue the same goals via different means. Not only have my expectations been consistently wrong, but the show manages to defy them in ways that demonstrate careful planning, rather than random changes of direction.

After Aoi and Yukina face challenges to their worldview and come out stronger as a result, Kazura faces a corruption of his own worldview (or perhaps just the brutally honest expression of it) and falls for it. Alternately, one could say that Kazura should have experienced a challenge to his worldview from Japan’s actions in Manchuria, but that his refusal to acknowledge it led him to this point.,

… but Isao didn’t come alone

Overall this episode comes off as expressing not two separate events that happened to fall into the same episode, but two halves of a single theme. If Aoi and Yukina learned that their relationship with each other and with the team was what kept them going, Kazura remained committed to an abstraction. If Night Raid intends to locate the cause of World War II on the lure of these abstractions, that, at least, would not surprise me.

You can watch this episode here.

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