Rio's path slowly but surely becomes clear and she now knows what she must do.
What They Say:
Rio, Howard and Dana find themselves in an empty street, the creation of the mysterious Joker's roll ruler. Roll ruler manipulates the luck of others and controls the game. When Rio accepts Joker's challenge and suffers a losing streak at the mercy of his roll ruler, Rio recalls an incident with Rina from her childhood. Will Rio escape from Joker's world?
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Rio finds itself in a bit of a strange place as a trio of the characters, Rio, Howard and the recently introduced Dana, end on Howard Island which is being controlled by the Joker. It's a quiet and interesting place in itself since it focuses just on those who belong there as it's empty otherwise. The introduction of the roll ruler is something that goes a long way towards explaining the power of luck that Rio has as it's something that is, according to Joker, essentially a form of mind control that allows the dealer to grant the ability to win to the participant. Joker wants to see Rio's roll ruler and is intent on playing against her in a game of black jack with Howard as the dealer.
The focus on Rio's past with Rina and their mother Risa helps to explain some of what's going on between the two women and what Joker's ultimate goal is as she's showing Rio that there are different ways to win and with how luck works. It's a curious piece in a way because of how it unfolds, being a very quiet and almost solemn interlude, but it does its goal of taking Rio after she's suffered so much and tried to get back on track to truly find her way. With so much of recent events being dark and showing her as little more than a worried sister or woman in general, seeing her starting to smile in earnest again is definitely welcome.
With only a couple of episodes left, the series is ready to start taking proper shape with what's at stake. With Cartia pulling the strings and a definite past involved between all of them with Rina involved, the idea that the two must battle in order to be something called the MVCD comes to the surface. As Howard points out, Rio has only one gate card at this point while Rina has eleven, but it's enough to challenge her and to protect her mothers legacy, something that Rina is intent on destroying and surpassing. With a somewhat clear purpose at hand, Rio definitely comes across much more energized and outgoing, which does lead to an amusing and fun match she plays against Dana briefly here which is very reminiscent of how the show was at the start, just with a bit more danger to it.
As the series progresses, I'm still very much of the mind that Rio does not need a serious storyline to it in order to make it better, it just needed to keep to having fun and being silly in its own way. The introduction of the more serious storyline has hurt it in the last few episodes but things are slowly getting back to the general direction, though obviously not completely. This episode has a better sense of fun and purpose about it as it works through the larger storyline elements and it helps that Rio is closer to her old self to a large degree. The show continues to delight when it comes to its visuals though, which certainly helps make it a fun show to watch, but it definitely needs more than just that. It had it once and I hope we get to see it again a little before it draws to a close.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Dell 10.1 Netbook via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.