Friday, January 12, 2018
Inoue returns with an episode as unconventional as 22. This one doesn't have a monster of the week, or a monster attack, and it's focused on Grey. Toranza's attempting to build an amazing robot, somehow building G2, the most pathetic and sad-sack robot you've ever seen. It's a robotic version of Trash Jigen. Toranza's disappointed with his creation, discarding it as a robot that the Grinham grunts can train on. G2 escapes the Vyram one day, after too many beatings...
What I find strange about this episode is that there's no real reason why Grey decides to pop up at Kaori's house and attack her and Gai. The Vyram three were like "We gotta get the Jetman before Toranza does," but it's not like they made any plans. It's just so random and strange to see Grey pop up and attack the two as they leave the house. This leads to a chase, where Maria jumps in and assists Grey, before being severely injured.
Despite this wonky set-up to get Maria injured, Grey pulls her to safety within a cave, and from there the rest of the episode is pretty good. While it's clearly a soundstage, director Masao Minowa makes good use of the set, creating atmosphere with dark lighting and a nice heavy rainfall the characters are caught in.
When the wounded and cold Maria rejects Grey -- he's a machine that can't provide her warmth -- it's here when it hits Grey just what is he, and what he can't be to Maria. So when Ryu finds the both of them, he's willing to let his opponent stay behind to offer Maria the comfort he can't. To make matters worse for Grey, the cutesy, pathetic G2 is stalking him, desperately seeking his friendship, acting as a constant reminder of what Grey is -- a machine. And no matter how advanced a machine can be -- and Grey's fairly advanced -- machines are just used. So, he's unnecessarily cruel to G2 in an unknowingly hypocritical way.
G2 puts itself in danger to save Grey from a Jetman attack, eventually being pinned by boulders before shutting down and exploding. (Grey hears G2's playing of a leaf; mimicking what it witnessed Maria doing, to Grey's satisfaction. He pretends to not know what the sound is.) A sad end for a sad character. The episode ends on a freeze frame of G2 exploding; not quite as strong as Inoue's Ohranger episode with Bara Revenger falling into pieces, but close.
The design of G2's pretty good in conveying how pitiful it is, but the suit acting is good (making G2 seem extremely small) and voice-actress Akiko Muta gives the character some sweetness. She also voiced the similarly sorrowful Bega Baby in Liveman. Sad that she's so sympathetic in these small one-off roles, but so damned annoying as Dairanger's recurring Denwa Sensei.
On another note: in this episode, there's a brief scene of Kaori and Gai having dinner at her house, with her futile efforts to get him to use proper table manners. It's the first crack in their relationship...one that's kind of an easy fix, if Gai wasn't such a stubborn bastard. C'mon, Gai. Kaori's putting in all of the effort so far.
Come along and ride on a Fantastic Voyage...
I think this is basically Inoue's attempt at doing a "light" episode before the finale. (Which obviously wasn't good enough for Toei, since we have that terrible, hideous Tomato King episode coming up which truly meets that criteria.) I think his thinking behind this episode was basically just let's give Odagiri something to do, and let's do something with mecha that's never been done before in a Sentai...
Which would be have Jet Icarus shrink down and enter Odagiri's body to combat the Jigen-Juu which invades her. And, yeah, that's something that hasn't been done with a mecha in a Sentai before...
UNLESS you count the Change Robo diving into Star King Bazuu/Gozma Star's body in the Changeman finale. First you stole the Earth Defense Force commander, actor Asao Wakamatsu, in the first episode; then you stole the idea of the Senshi Dan backing up the power-less heroes with the Neo-Jetman; now you're taking from Changeman's finale, Jetman! I see you! You're caught!
Once Odagiri's infected, she begins acting crazy, but nobody cares to question why she wants to take their weapons all of a sudden or why she's smacking Gai and Kaori for being late (when it wasn't the first time Gai was late) or why she's going to crazy methods to "train" them. They really don't question her until Radeige shows up during the "training." I think a lot of Odagiri's actions here are supposed to be amusing, even funny, but it doesn't quite work for me.
Once the Jetman learn of their problem, they decide to solve it by pulling a Fantastic Voyage. The show's depiction of Jet Icarus within Odagiri is...strange. I won't knock the show for its lava-lamp-as-the-bloodstream effects, or the bubble-wrap tissue lining, or the weird-green-Scope-for-digestive-acid effect. I could make fun of those really obvious, money-saving effects, but I won't.
The Jetman manage to grab ahold of the monster in the nick of time (oh, yeah, they're on a time limit) and exit through Odagiri's tears. Odagiri shows up in Jet Garuda to exact her revenge, in a moment that's meant to be simultaneously bad-ass and funny, but again doesn't work either way for me. But again, I think this episode IS meant to be seriocomic -- the episode begins with Raita ribbing Odagiri for not having a boyfriend, with the episode's threat being introduced via an anonymously-sent bouquet of flowers -- and it's a choice of tone I find baffling.
On another note: This episode features a brief scene of Gai having dinner with Kaori and her parents. You know he's ready to bail as soon as they ask him about his education. But then they proceed to ask him what he does, who his parents are, trying to guess at what high-ranking position he holds (read: how much money he has) to have won over Kaori. Her father scolds him for how he guzzles his wine instead of savoring it. He eventually does excuse himself, ditching the whole thing in what Wakamatsu plays as rage and insult.
It's at once sad and naive that Kaori thinks her parents will come around to be understanding -- especially, she thinks, if they know the unique circumstances in which the two met. You know the type of judgmental, materialistic, unchanging, elitist, snobby people they are. Gai knows. So he splits. More cracks in their relationship, ones that WON'T be able to be smoothed over. (I don't really picture her parents being thrilled with someone like Ryu, either. Their ideal would be that annoying and vile Nobuhiko Akizuki-looking sonuva from episode 4 -- which would be a loveless union in which only bank accounts and image would benefit.)