Well, we’ve got a lot more invested in these characters by this point, don’t we?
Doing this column, I end up thinking a lot about the plus and minuses of serialized arcs and episodic one-offs. I still contend that the “mythology” episodes of COWBOY BEBOP - - everything with Vicious, in other words - - were the worst part of that show. Watanabe seems to have learned some lessons from that here, though. The first two-parter was all right, but I don’t think it hit me as hard because I just didn’t know the characters that well, yet.
This one, though? Now, we’ve had plenty of fun with Mugen, Fuu and Jin already and gotten a real feel for their rhythm as a group. Now, I’m genuinely surprised about Mugen’s horrific back-story, and I'm genuinely invested in how his past is coming back to mess his life up. Hell, he practically gets a superhero origin here with the revelation of how he grew up on some “Hell on Earth” prison island and the fact he's now facing down his own arch nemesis.
And this pirate bad guy’s a good villain, he is. The kind you legitimately hate. The kind you want see get his bloody comeuppance as soon as possible.
Obligatory historical question - - was this island actually real? At first, I thought that this girl’s who holding such a candle for Mugen (and that he’s being such a jerk toward, of course) was a gypsy on account of the design of her outfit. Was there a lot more cultural diversity in the island s of Japan before the country presumably got more homogenous with onset of modernity?
Maybe the next episode will actually give me a phat-beat history lesson on the subject?
Watch this episode, "Misguided Miscreants, Part 1” below and decide for yourself, then read my comments on the previous episode here.