“A Pursuer From the Past: Part 1”
After making peace with a tragedy from his past, Chuuta continues to grow in his investigation role for ēlDLIVE. But when criminals, posing as transfer students, infiltrate his school and a ghost from his past threatens to reemerges, the peace Chuuta has finally found is threatened.
In this week’s episode, viewers finally learn the events surrounding the flashbacks that Chuuta has. During his childhood, Chuuta had three close friends: Gucchi, Michiyo, and Matsutaro. While playing near a cliff on Mt Taketori, the cliff began to collapse. Chuuta steps on a rock to rescue his companions, after mishearing Dolugh’s warning, which causes the cliff to collapse further and sends his friends tumbling to their uncertain deaths. After several years, Chuuta is finally beginning to move past the guilt and remorse he has felt over his friend’s demise. It’s another testament to his character growth and development since the series premiere.
Later in the episode, members of the criminal DeMille gang infiltrate Chuuta and Misuzu’s school, under the guise of transfer students. Expanding on what is known of SPH, viewers learn that the ability to sense SPH is different with every individual. This is used to explain why it was possible that Misuzu, Chuuta, and Dolugh failed to recognize that the undercover criminals were using SPH on them to induce sleep. After this conclusion is reached, Misuzu and Chuuta are given medicine that will work against any sleep inducing SPH in the future.
The theory surrounding the sleep inducing SPH and this magical medicine to avoid it seems conveniently contrived for the purpose of this episode. Similarly, I’m not sure what it really adds to the overall narrative. It is shown that ēlDLIVE’s radar wasn’t able to detect the criminal’s use of the sleep inducing SPH either. If these were the only two points to be made, it seems the writers could have found a much less complex method of doing so.
Finally, viewers learn that a third new transfer student, by the name of Mikio Narita, bears a striking resemblance to Chuuta’s childhood friend, Gucchi; so much so that Chuuta is convinced that his friend didn’t perish several years prior. Even more compelling, Chief Laine also claims to recognize an image of Gucci from a data file of individuals in the DeMille crime organization. Why or how Laine would have encountered Gucci years ago isn’t explained. Perhaps his photo made the papers after the accident that allegedly killed him? Either way, it is one piece of the story that is left vague.
– Growth and development of main protagonist, Chuuta
– Another dramatic cliffhanger at the end of episode, compelling viewers to keep watching.
– Main female protagonist isn’t developing.
– Seemingly significant plot points may just be contrived to move story along.
At week 4 ēlDLIVE breaks from its formulaic 3-step plot to deliver something which begins to move toward dramatic development while still retaining the often humorous tone that the series is coming to be known for. The fact that this episode is the first of a two-part story helps, but the introduction of a few key elements means that this won’t be as self-contained as the other episodes were.
To start, the glimpse into Chuuta’s past seen at the start of the episode helps give some emotional weight to his personality problems. Being depicted as a somewhat odd shounen hero from the outset, the flashback reveals that the constant “talking to himself” was a greater point of anxiety for him than previously shown. Revealing that he lost his three best friends, and felt betrayed by his conscience due to a misunderstood warning, his lack of friends and withdrawn nature are more readily understood. Chuuta’s ongoing growth thus feels all the more meaningful because of this as no one is pushing him to improve more than he himself is. Even small things like deciding to use the space station’s training facilities to hone his skills shows more initiative than his personal motive fueled proactivity last week.
Of course, it can conversely be said that the series has been missing a sense of personal stake. This too changes during the events of this episode, as viewers quickly realize that Chuuta’s long lost friend Guuchi is somehow involved with the criminal organization DeMille. The group, whose French translation means “Thousand” is still a mystery for now, with the viewers’ only information coming from the briefing Laine Bricke gave Chuuta last week. Bricke’s own recognition of Gucchi is curious, but I’ll hold commentary until I see the next episode. Just as something comes up to challenge Chuuta whenever he appears to improve, Gucchi seems designed to be the greatest obstacle to his resolve yet.
In the interest of pointing out room for improvement, there are some things which ēlDLIVE seems to enjoy doing (or at least doesn’t care to fix): It looks like no episode is complete without Misuzu being disgusted by Chuuta’s comments in some way, and I called this week’s instance as soon as I saw Chuuta floating in that tank. I can accept if that’s the sort of comedy the show prefers to convey, but the delivery is growing a little wearisome. With regards to Misuzu herself, it’s also becoming tiring for me to point out every week that she her character has zero depth, so she is support character status until I’m shown otherwise. To top it all off, this episode gets worse with convoluted explanation that may or may not hold any future significance, especially in reference to SPH abilities. I’ll once again hold off complaining until I see more, but I can’t imagine everything I was made to learn about sleep inducing SPH is going to be critically important later on.
– Gucchi ‘s introduction is sure to create some dramatic development
– Chuuta becomes a more engaging character each week
– Some background is forgone in favor of shock value
– Other background is excessively dumped on the viewer (to save time?)
This post is part of our seasonal episodic review series. To view all the posts in this series, click the following link: Viewing Party