The second episode of Linebarrels provides some much needed plot exposition and more of the ARMA antics that made the first episode entertaining.
What They Say
Kouichi engages in a fierce battle with Sawatari of the KATO-KIKAN, the secret organization that harbors an evil plot to take over the world. Kouichi is immensely pleased with himself for having saved the town, but his efforts are not mentioned on any TV news reports. Frustrated, Kouichi takes revenge on the bullies who had always pushed him around, abusing the super-human physical powers he acquired by becoming a Factor. Kouichi�s childhood friends Risako and Yajima are somewhat unsettled by the change that has come over Kouichi.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
So when you’ve just been granted your wish of having a superpower by a beautiful and mysterious woman, what do you do? Your life, and everyone else’s, is potentially at stake; do you keep it a secret and try and do good in the background, or do you shout about it from the rooftops?
Well, if your name is Kouichi, then you definitely do the latter. Granted, he’s wanted to have superpowers all his life, but his reaction to getting them is quite hilarious. With rumours going around that the giant ARMA that is supposed to be helping, which happens to be his LINEBARREL, is actually causing more damage than good, he is desperate to prove everyone else wrong. He talks about it constantly to Yajima, who thankfully makes efforts to ground him a little, and even seems tempted to tell Risako. In fact, his desire to show everyone the truth almost leads to him summoning LINEBARREL to his own school in front of everyone.
What I found most interesting about this episode is that it shows more of the loose-end side of Kouichi’s character. There’s almost a maniacal twist to him as he suddenly realises he actually has the power to turn on the bullies, and in the ensuing battle with Sawatari of KATO-KIKAN and the two girls from JUDA at the end, he pretty much loses it as he starts attacking anyone within reaching distance. It seems as if he’s the sort of hero that will shoot first and ask questions later, but you can’t help but think that the more we see, the more Kouichi might regret not trying to find out if anyone else is on his side.
Elsewhere, a lot of the exposition that was necessarily missing from the premiere was provided here. The leader of JUDO explained how special types of ARMA like the LINEBARREL are called MACHINA, and its D-SOIL (plenty of technical terms for the uninitiated) chooses someone called a “Factor” who can summon its MACHINA at will, and the machine will transfer to their location immediately. For their part, JUDA are waiting to see how Kouichi and LINEBARREL will affect the world before interfering too much, although they do inadvertently get involved in the altercation at the end of the episode.
There’s also an explanation for Emi’s comment at the end of the last episode that Kouichi is already dead. It turns out that when the LINEBARREL fell, it actually landed on him, so she asked it to “restore” him, and so the LINEBARREL’s D-SOIL did, which will keep Kouichi linked to it as its Factor, with all the instant healing and superpowers that go along with it, forever. Although for some this would be bad news, Kouichi takes it in his stride and there’s a nice scene with him and Emi where he has made himself a grave, to signify the burying of his old self. Unfortunately, Emi still hasn’t recovered her memories so we’ll have to see exactly where that leads.
Linebarrels of Iron is fairly derivative in terms of its plot, but its execution so far is very entertaining. With this episode providing some much needed answers to what Kouichi’s relationship to the LINEBARREL is, we can move forward with seeing how he copes with the responsibility that he wanted. Judging from how things end, it doesn’t look like he will handle it too well at all to start; no one will be happy if he fights everyone and destroys the city in the process. So far I’m quite enjoying the ride, and as I warm to the cast of characters a bit more I’m eager to see where it heads next.
Japanese Language, English Subtitles
Sony Vaio Laptop with 2Gb RAM and Windows Vista.