The subtitle for this episode is “Kitten,” but I would vote to have it changed to “Kuroh’s Worst Day Ever.” Can we all just agree on that?
I know Shiro is supposed to be the character we’re sympathetic to, but just look at Kuroh here. That’s the face of defeat.
Episode 1 did a good job of setting us up with the basics of this world. Episode 2 doesn’t build much on top of that foundation as far as general information goes, but it IS extremely entertaining and surprisingly funny. The humor is a little stereotypical of an anime, but it’s less slapstick than it is playing off of our expectations of the characters. For example, Kuroh comes off as a serious and mature character. But throughout this episode we see him humanized in some surprising ways; and from the most unexpected of those ways comes the humor.
Anyway, let’s take this from the beginning.
The episode starts off right where episode 1 ended: Kuroh as a sword to Shiro’s throat and plans to kill him as revenge for the murder that Shiro has supposedly committed. When it becomes apparent that there is no getting out of this, Shiro seems to give in to his fate. He only has one request: that he gets to write a farewell letter to his sick sister. He’s her only friend, he explains, and he doesn’t want her to think the worst of him if he’s executed for a murder he hasn’t committed. Kuroh is obviously moved by this (even going so far as to compliment the sister’s name), and allows Shiro to write out this heartfelt, sentimental note before he is executed.
But then we learn something very important about Shiro:
He is NOT as helpless as he seems.
Using his bogus story as a distraction, Shiro produces some flash bombs (!?) out of his bag and makes a hasty escape, leaving Kuroh to deal with the fact that he’s just been duped. Turns out the powerful hunter also known as the “Black Dog” has a weakness for sentimentality, and that Shiro is not your average high school student.
Back in the city proper, the street gang (now identified as Homra) puts out a bounty on Shiro’s head- and the amount is nothing to sneeze at. From peoples’ reactions, Homra is a well-known organization. Just how powerful are they?
A skateboarding member of Homra who was unlucky enough to get into a scrap (and lose that scrap) with Kuroh in episode 1 reappears for another short brawl with the infamous Black Dog as the hunt for Shiro starts in earnest. This scene almost felt out of place to me actually. The music changes abruptly to an upbeat J-Pop song as the two duke it out, and the fight ends the same way as before with nothing new being brought to the table. I suppose this scene could be setting up a rivalry between The Skateboarder (haven’t caught his name yet) and Kuroh, if nothing else.
Shiro, in the meantime, has made it back to his dormitory with his little white cat in tow. I hadn’t mentioned the cat before. It didn’t seem terribly important, past being cute and adorably clingy to Shiro. Though when Shiro lays down beside it on his bed, then opens his eyes…
Shiro isn’t the only thing that isn’t what he seems, apparently.
Oh hey, it’s that naked girl from school earlier! The one no one else seems to be able to see. Turns out she and the cat are one and the same. And before Shiro can wrap his head around that, Kuroh catches up to him- and not only can be see the naked, well-endowed girl in Shiro’s room, but he’s so incapacitated by embarrassment that Shiro and his mysterious new friend have time to get away. A chase ensues, which shows us two things: one, that the girl known as just Neko has some serious powers of her own, as she uses them to keep Shiro out of Kuroh’s reach; and also, that Kuroh has an iron will. He gets turned around, confused by illusions, runs into walls, and somehow even gets some unflattering drawings on his face before all three of them end up back in Shiro’s apartment.
By now, it’s clear that there is little life-or-death left in this situation. Everyone is too tired- and hungry- to continue the fight anyway. By the time the episode ends, it’s revealed that Kuroh is a proficient cook. Scene ends with everyone around the table, eating together.
… Yeah, that was NOT how I expected this to go down. But I really loved the drop in tension in this episode. The humor (mostly watching Kuroh fail miserably to take Shiro down before seeming to give up entirely in favor of breakfast) actually helps us learn about who these characters are, and it builds their relationships without it seeming forced or cliche. The quality of the animation is still consistent, lending itself just as well to serious scenes as it does to the funnier ones. There are even some unexpected details, like Shiro’s animated wallpaper. Which needs to be invented for general use immediately. I volunteer my walls for test use.
If in episode 1 the characters seemed a little distant, episode does a lot to humanize them and get us interested in their personal quirks. But there are still a lot of questions: who was that in the video that looks just like Shiro, and who did he murder? What is Homra, and what is the uniformed group they are at odds with? What’s up with these superpowers anyway? Maybe episode 3 will give us some answers.