If the past two episodes were about making Vincent Bold a huge jerk, then this one was all about making him a great, well-rounded character with surprising charm and principle. I’m impressed to the extent that Space Brothers always impresses me.
The humanization of Bold started with the end of the recaps that now precede every episode. Unlike the previous carpool scenes, which made him out to be a reckless driver, this one showed he actually got along fairly well with two of the three people he carpooled with, even if the other one was scared witless. Later, we got the scene where he introduced his training as shaving off half a year from the existing regimen, rather than an intensive weedout drill. This was a darn good demonstration of his ability to be persuasive when he wants to be. Lastly, we got to see him interacting with the other instructor, lukewarm-coffee Larry, drawing a pretty clear entertaining contrast between the two while showing that they actually were pretty comfortable with each other. He even got tossed an opportunity to be anti-sexist, courtesy of one of Larry’s offhand remarks. Not to mention the fact that his habit of interrupting people was used for pretty effective comedy moments this episode; his cutting off Mutta’s multiple attempts to ask a question were vintage Tatsumi Takeshi.
Any questions? Ok, good.
At the same time, Bold’s definitely chosen some training methods designed to put their psyches to the test. The deliberately harsh advisers and the ranking system are both tactics aimed at drumming out the mentally and physically weak. The first shot of Kenji after he was told their progress was being recorded and ranked showed some notable unease, something which quickly manifested in him setting a faster pace less well-suited to the group. I can only imagine what will happen to the others as they get their chance to lead. I can’t imagine all of them will stay as calm as Kenji did. I would bet anything that those rankings are just getting “reported” to a trash bin, and the only reason they exist is to put the ASCANs on edge.
Mutta was fun to watch this episode the way Mutta is always fun, though his self-depreciation bordering on paranoia is getting a little bit old. It is, to be perfectly fair, a part of his character, contrasting with Hibito’s not feeling worry when maybe he should. Also to be perfectly fair, scenes like that one where his afro stood on end like a bunch of tentacles are definitely worth it.
Coming soon to a Biology museum near you
I also have to bring up that one scene this episode that really stuck me: the one where Bold’s mischevious smile after concocting the survival training gimmick cued equally mischevious music and a montage of busses pulling into the desert, followed by off-balance low-angle camera pans of the ASCANs lookign slightly disoriented. Have I mentioned I love Ayumu Watanabe’s style yet?