The drama and tension returns to the series, but with a mix of comedy and the introduction of a new character thrown in for good measure.
What They Say
Domyoji, one of Kouichi's classmates, starts acting over-familiar toward Kizaki. Sensing Kizaki's discomfort, Koichi challenges Domyoji to a fight, but oddly enough, cannot even touch him. Meanwhile, Kouichi has a visitor at JUDA...
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
It would seem that Linebarrels of Iron is going to be one of those yo-yo series that just goes back and forth every episode. One week it’s heavy drama, the next comedy, the next a mix of both, and perhaps we’ll rinse and repeat for the rest of the show’s run. Unfortunately it means that the show ends up feeling rather uneven at times, even when it presents some good ideas. And that is exactly my problem with this episode; it has some fantastic ideas but the execution is just plain odd.
The main story thread this week is the appearance of Hisataka Katou at Juda Headquarters. No, he doesn’t storm the building with brute force and heavy gunfire, instead he simply walks through the front door for a quick chat and a slice of sponge cake. His main goal is obviously to bring the Linebarrel back with him, but in doing so he is also apparently looking to recruit Kouichi into Kato-Kikan as well. His big conversation with the group (most of the young guns are present, while the President and a couple of others are conveniently off at a UN conference) is also an opportunity to explain to us all more about the Machina and where they come from.
Not too surprisingly, it turns out they’re alien technology that came from an alternate universe to take over our own. Katou himself was sent by the same forces to be the invaders’ commander, but all the other members of Kato-Kikan are supposedly sympathisers to the cause. Emi is also from this other world, and her father is the one that built the Linebarrel, which is so coveted as it is more powerful than the other machine. Emi is obviously not on Kato-Kikan’s side, and apparently President Ishigami betrayed Kato-Kikan to steal all their Machina.
All the exposition is somewhat welcome, since these are things we needed to know in the long run, but the manner in which they are presented is what disappoints. When Katou walks into Juda HQ with a menacing presence, you very much expect some sort of epic confrontation, even if it’s just mind games. Instead we get a lot of talk explaining the show’s back story, and a rather desperate attempt to get Kouichi on his side. It just isn’t what you would expect from someone in his position. It was nice to see Kouichi firmly rebuff his offer, and also how he was content to stick to Emi’s side, but the show’s explanation for the confrontation being so weak was a throwaway line from President Ishigami that Katou knows it “isn’t time yet”. It makes you wonder why they bothered coming in the first place then. To have such a heavily armed force surrounding the HQ and to do nothing is almost criminal.
Aside from that aspect of the story, there were two sub threads of interest. One was hilarious and revolved around the introduction of what looks to be a fun new character – Makoto Domyoji. He is very much a ladies’ man and crashes the fun when Kouichi and Emi are walking to school, and basically ends up involving himself in some sort of secret circle of friendship and support with the pair, even dragging Risako into it. Risako also was on form with Emi, chasing her down and eventually insisting she would fight with Emi for Kouichi’s attention. When the show does comedy in this way it generally succeeds, because characters like Risako, Makoto and Emi are a lot of fun in different ways.
The biggest problem with Linebarrels at the moment is it seems to be suffering something of an identity crisis: is it action drama or action comedy? It’s a shame to see Katou’s confrontation at Juda HQ play out in such a weak manner, when it was the perfect opportunity for the show to up the ante and crank the tension up a notch. The idea was a good one, but the way it was executed, being light-hearted and exposition heavy, took the steam out of it. The comic relief worked well but, like the exposition that surrounded it, it was almost lost in the ridiculousness of the main situation when it would’ve been the perfect foil for some heavy drama. I am still enjoying the show, especially for the characters, but it would be nice to see it taken to the next level sometime soon.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
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