Well, then... when some of you lunatics warned me about there being some dodgy animation lurking later in the series, I was expecting some awkward use of CG models, maybe.
To say the least, I’m a little befuddled by the drastic and inconsistent differences in rendering that can be found throughout this episode. It really makes me think of the times when the regular artist on a comic falls behind on his deadlines and the editors have to bring in a faster fill-in artist with a sketchier style to pick up the slack on some random pages. Honestly, I enjoyed the stratchy, Kazuto Nakazawa style on its own merits - - but it definitely did feel puzzling for an otherwise traditional and polished anime to start looking like a Liquid Television short. I guess Gonzo just decided to let Kazuto guest direct a portion for kicks?
While we’re on the subject of wires from other shows getting crossed into SAMURAI 7 net of circuitry, it’s been pretty amusing to recognize YU YU HAKUSHO’s dub cast getting more-or-less reunited by Funimation here. Koenma’s voice artist is reining it back some for the apprentice, Genkai’s voice actress sounds exactly the same as the old lady of this safehouse, and I can recognize the Kuwabara-cadence of Sam’s idol, Chris Sabat, coming strong through Mifune’s tinny voice. Maybe it ain’t too profound to observe that, gee, a dub company’s re-employing some of its regulars, but this particular grouping is unavoidably drawing my mind to "the Dark Tournament" - - and that always needs to be noted.
On a completely different note - - I’ve got to say that the new recruit’s relationship with his geisha gal has got to be one of the realest-feeling boyfriend/girlfriend dynamics I’ve seen in any anime I’ve seen so far. They don’t get a ton of screentime, but the moments they do have together evidence a couple who’re so familiar with eachother that they're indistinguishable from best friends. It’s honestly more impactful to see them self-consciously trying to play it cool and not get overwrought during their separation scene than it would've been to see some melodramatic display.
With that in mind, I’ll be you two-to-one that this guy’s going to be one of the samurai that bites it in the epic battle at the end.