“Starting Line Downpour”: Aired on Toonami on September 12, 2015
After escaping from Atsuko and Satoshi, Michiko heads off to find Hatchin, running into the little nerd kid who is friends with Rita and finds out about the circus. Meanwhile, an investigative reporter named Daniela Carneiro Jr. is trying to film a report about the circus, believing the employees are engaging in some kind of shady activity. He runs into Hana outside of the circus one day, and he notices a bruise on her eye, which he suspects might be from one of the circus operators. Later, she’s in a meeting involving the other circus children, the jerky clown that pushes her around to do work, and another crew member who coincidentally happens to be named Michiko. During this meeting, Daniela breaks in and attempts to uncover a scandal, but he ends up getting tranquilized, tied up in a trash bin, and thrown out into the ocean. Hana goes back about her business, cooking dinner for her and Rita, and preparing for a trip to what Michiko 2 calls “Wonderland”. On a particularly rainy night, the real Michiko shows up outside the tent where Hana is sleeping, and the two proceed to argue at each other again. Afterwards, Hana is told to get in the back of a truck with the other kids to go to “Wonderland”, but the truck runs over a plank of wood with nails. When the clown goes to investigate, Daniela knocks him out and frees the kids, only for them to all flee to Michiko 2, and then the clown knocks him unconscious. They proceed to set up a hot air balloon to travel, which gets the real Michiko’s attention, as she sees Daniela running past her, vowing to stop Michiko 2 from committing misdeeds. It’s revealed that Michiko 2 and the clown plan to engage in human trafficking and sell all the kids. Daniela gets shot by tranquilizer as he climbs onto the balloon, and all the kids manage to escape except for Hana, and the real Michiko starts chasing the balloon, hanging onto the rope dangling out of it and attempting to hang on for dear life. Hana finds her way off of the balloon, and then uses the nearby lighthouse to find her way back into the balloon, kicking Michiko 2 in the face. She grabs onto the real Michiko, losing consciousness because of tranquilizer darts, but Hana holds on for dear life as the two fall off. The next day, arrests are made at the circus, thanks to evidence provided by Daniela, and Michiko and Hana wake up, thankfully alive. Rita finds the two, and she says goodbye to Hana, promising that the two will meet up again soon.
This was a pretty solid episode of the series for two big reasons. The first is the character of Daniela Carneiro, Jr., played by the booty-loving Dandy himself, Ian Sinclair.
He’s an entertaining character to watch due to his tenacity in pursuing the truth about the circus and its operators, and because it’s kind of funny to see him take so much abuse and yet never quitting. He gets knocked unconscious by physical objects and tons of tranquilizer darts, and Daniela just doesn’t give up. The second reason is the final action sequence taking place on the balloon. It’s a visually impressive and dramatically engaging scene from the start all the way to the end, and it’s really satisfying to see Hana kick other Michiko in the face. If there’s anything that detracts from the enjoyment of the episode somewhat, it would be that we have yet another argument between our two leads about how much Hana hates Michiko. It would work more effectively if they hadn’t had this same basic argument at least 3 times before now, since in terms of pacing, it begins to feel more like an American animated sitcom than a gritty anime action drama. As in, you know how in something like The Simpsons, Marge and Homer will spend several entire episodes arguing and being pissed at each other, but then they kiss and make up, and the status quo resets to zero for the next week? That’s what Michiko and Hatchin’s constant bickering feels like at this point. Regardless of that, the conclusion to this particular series of events was still satisfying, we’re now at the halfway point of the series, and I’m looking forward to seeing where the story goes next week. I give this episode 7 cans of corned beef out of 10.