Since this is a two-parter, it made sense to cover both episodes. And what an emotional one-two punch, huh? Alas, poor Avdol -- we hardly knew thee!
If nothing else, Araki’s truly demonstrates himself to be a storyteller never content with limiting action to a simple exchange of punches and kicks. The sense of awkwardness -- with Polnareff and Kakyoin racing to flee any reflective surfaces -- adds such a greater sense of urgency. Our heroes are forced to do battle in a fashion so unconventional, they barely even understand it. Seriously, where else are you going to see battle tactics that actually require the good guys to kick sand in innocent bystanders’ eyes? It’s as laugh-inducing as it is pulse-raising.
That said, the real reason the show works is that Araki never forgets to underlie all this insanity with real emotions -- even if they do get hysterically overwrought. Yes, I’ll fess up to it. Even despite all the other ridiculousness, I was moved by Avdol’s murder, and Polnareff’s tragic regrets regarding the deaths of his friend and sister. That’s what separates this from just being a creative exercise like KILL LA KILL. No matter how outlandish the predicaments gets, Araki always keeps the characters grounded with at least some emotional honesty.
Anyway, I bring this up every time, but the gimmick of naming all these unspeakable evil villains after pop rock acts from 70’s and 80’s never ceases to delight me in the most morbid way. In this case, it’s our villain being alternately called J. Geils or ‘Centerfold’ (in another legally-anxious discrepancy between the spoken dialog and the subtitles). Presuming that none of you get the reference, Araki named this diabolical Hanged Man in direct reference to this…
Do you see why it’s so funny, now? Imagine that guy as a murderous super-villain.