Narumi is formally inducted into Soichirou’s honorable ‘band of brothers’ in order to gain the courage and support to help Meo find her father. But was one more episode enough to close out the arc with a satisfying ending, or did J.C. Staff leave us with yet another cliffhanger to agonize over for another week?
I like this image because it can either be interpreted as an ending to the arc, or a useful flashback for Meo’s case. So what’s it going to be? Well, let’s take a look at what I predicted last week and compare it to what really happened this week:
Prediction 1: “Hints about Soichirou’s involvement with his own group seem to signify a side story at some point with some deeper and darker twists to befall him.”
– Well, we’re still waiting for that to happen. Narumi’s attempts at joining Soichiro’s gang almost went down in vain until yet another heart-to-heart conversation with Soichiro convinced him that Narumi really has the potential to do well in the group and for Meo’s sake despite their no-student recruitment clause. Whew, that was a lot to say. And after the fights in the parking lot, Narumi got to see just how rough the gang can be in dealing with their ‘clients.’ Chances of Soichirou biting the bullet early in the series: pretty low, but I’m going to stick with my gut and say that something’s bound to happen soon. I mean, it’s gotta hit the fan at some point.
Prediction 2: “Let’s see if Meo, Alice, and company find her father alive and well and fall back into happily ever after mode, or if she’ll just wind up using the money to either better the world or buy Alice some more cola and stuffed animals for her snazzy apartment.”
– Wow, I wasn’t too far off on this one. The sake that Narumi drank with Soichiro was either really powerful or killed too many brain cells because he definitely pulled off a great lie. In order to lure out the Kishiwada group that was holding Kusakabe Sr. out into the open, Narumi and the boys conjure up a lie that presumes the 200 million yen remaining from Meo’s/Kusakabe’s bag was divided into small portions and will be deposited before the bank closes for the week. In order to retrieve the money before it’s ‘too late’, Kusakabe is brought to the bank from a van and is lured right into Soichiro and gang’s posse. Several badly animated outdoor bar fights ensue and Narumi and his friends eventually manage to rescue Kusakabe. But instead of taking him to Meo, Meo herself wanders into the parking lot and reunites with her father. Time passes, and the two live happily ever after.
Yeah, that prediction went well. They both lived happily ever after and the money really was used to better the world… sort of. But no new stuffed animals for Alice this time. Darn.
Did the wrap-up of this arc have potential for a better ending? Sure. For example, I thought it was way too convenient for Kishiwada to conveniently haul Kusakabe to the bank in a van and how simple a fight it was just to retrieve him. Also, Meo’s reunion with her father went by a little too fast with little resistance and no explanation of what they’ll do next. I mean, Meo was so happy to see her father; wouldn’t she have pouted at him or given him a nice slap on the face for abandoning her? I guess Meo’s just too well-mannered and humble for us to expect such reactions out of her.
Despite some of these gripes, at least the arc ended cleanly. The plot wrapped up quite nicely, Narumi gains a new and important comrade, and we get more details on Minli’s past and her reasons for running the ramen shop. I just hope we don’t run into Meo and her father again because their appeal as contributing characters to this series has dwindled so quickly due to the way the arc peaked and then ended that they’re really not needed anymore for anything related to the main cast’s plight.
And scenes like this made me laugh at the show for ignoring the common sense of just threatening everyone with that rifle. I know Hitoshi is no Kouta (a la H.O.T.D), but I’m sure many of the good guys’ faces would have been saved from punches and kicks just by having Hitoshi activate his own hysteria mode.
Next week: Alice cries because I didn’t enjoy the Meo arc as much as she did. Sorry, Alice. I’m sure you’ll make it up to me and your viewers next week when Minli decides to join the fanservice bandwagon.