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Senkou no Night Raid Episode 13 – Whatever Happened, Happened

September 13, 2010 Leave a comment

Last episode left the entire cast sitting on a powderkeg, waving matches around with a fervent desire to set it all off. Senkou no Night Raid’s finale isn’t quite as explosive as was anticipated, but it still manages to cover all the necessary points with a proper amount of pathos and narrative skill. It also manages to be a rather complicated conclusion, so this review will spend a bit more time on plot summary than usual.

What seemed to be three simultaneous confrontations becomes two sequential ones. Natsume has it out with his opponent, defeating him without the use of his powers whatsoever. It again conveys the theme that overconfidence in one’s own ability isn’t everything, a lesson learned by Natsume himself when he is shot in the back by a nameless mook. Fatally wounded, he manages to conceal his dying from Yukina (if only for a little while) and his death convinces Kazura to switch back to their side.
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Senkou no Night Raid Episode 12 – Mutually Assured Destruction

It’s been three months since the team lost sight of Kazura, and Mr. Sakurai’s disappearance confirms that he too was working with Isao. With little to do and no leads to follow, Aoi, Natsume, and Yukina stick to following Puyi around, expecting some trouble to emerge in the run-up to his coronation as Emperor of Manchukuo. As it turns out, they’re right.

Kazura, meanwhile, has his own frustrations ahead of him, as his joining Isao was based on certain misconceptions. First off, he thought Isao had a working bomb, but he doesn’t; the explosion in the desert was an illusion. His scientist still hasn’t quite figured out the formula, and is need of more help from the prophet to crack it.
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Senkou no Night Raid Episode 11 – Double and Triple Crosses

The departure of Kazura for the other side spoiled the otherwise strong feelings of camaraderie generated last episode, but since this is an espionage drama rather than a buddy movie, that’s hardly a bad thing. Apparently Mr. Sakurai feels the same way, because he appears completely unmoved by Kazura’s betrayal. He notes that Kazura was never really cut out for this sort of work and that such an action was expectable. Aoi bitterly notes that Sakurai shouldn’t have recruited him in the first place if he knew that to be the case.

Of course, working at cross-purposes with his boss is something Aoi specializes in, so while Sakurai tells them all to ignore this latest development, Aoi already has other plans. Using some information he concealed from his boss. Aoi figures out that Isao’s base must be in close proximity to a particular factory (which is providing them with electricity), and between that knowledge and Natsume’s clairvoyance they locate the facility where Isao is keeping his bomb.

Isao is tipped off about this in advance, however, but rather than try to fight the intruders he just has  the entire facility evacuated. Natsume and Aoi arrive just at they are finishing, catching up with Isao and Kazura in time to see another ally of Isao—Shizune.
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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.
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Senkou no Night Raid Episode 9 – Empire Building

What is the cost of empire? Of leading a nation down the “right path”? The latest episode of Senkou no Night Raid is far too wrapped up its own alternative history to devote the necessary amount of time to treat these questions seriously, but it manages to touch on them enough to get the audience thinking. Which is about all one can reasonably expect.

Since the team split up last episode, I’ll have to take the plots individually. Yukina and Natsume are still following Mr. Sakurai’s orders to locate the rogue physicist working for Isao, only to realize that Isao is, as usual, one step ahead of them, as he drops in on Yukina during her meal.
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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.
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Senkou no Night Raid Episodes 7 – To Tell the Truth

First off, after a long break, I’m happy to report that Night Raid will be getting some love again. Second, the title for the post is not a typo: There are two episode sevens for the show. The first, the one that aired on Japanese TV, is really just a recap episode, with a few new scenes tossed in at the end to keep the plot semi-continuous. The second, aired online only (although I suspect it will also be on the DVDs), goes more in depth over the Mukden Incident (often referred to as the Manchurian Incident), which remains an extraordinarily controversial topic in Japan.

This is the elephant in the room, as every historically informed viewer of the show would be curious (or perhaps worried) about how it chose to depict those events. Keep in mind that most Japanese history textbooks, to this day, blame the bombing on Chinese militias, rather than on Japanese army officers trying to start of war by blaming Chinese militias. I suspect that the “real” episode seven was streamed rather than aired precisely to avoid controversy.
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