Onihei – Episode 4

“Blood Battle”

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A old acquaintance, Omasa, visits Heizō to reveal that she was the inside person for a household robbery. She discloses that the group, is planning another robbery; prompting Heizō to ask her to spy for him. When she’s found out by the criminals while tracking the thief Genpachi to his next hit, it’s up to Heizo to see that she lives through the ordeal.


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In a setup very similar to Kumehachi’s situation in the first episode, Omasa’s background and involvement with a thieving ring puts her in a unique position to give Heizo an opening to halt their operations. Of course, the simple fact that she is a woman puts her on different ground as compared to Hasegawa’s latest ally.

Image of a younger Heizo standing behind Omasa as a childTo begin with, Heizo seems compelled to explain that his significance to Omasa isn’t anything special as she was merely ten years old when he last saw her. To his wife’s credit, she doesn’t feel so insecure as to fear a romantic link between them, but remarks that a woman would not forget someone like him. It places Omasa’s motivation squarely behind the man who impressed her in her youth and comforted her after her father’s death, rather than any number of legitimate reasons she might want to see the group brought down. Omasa expresses such at the beginning of the episode, but seeing her resolve after the events of this episode it’s hard not to agree with Mrs. Heizo’s sentiments.

Image of Heizo fighting off two menOmasa’s lack of physical prowess isn’t uncommon for a woman. One could even think the depiction to be realistic, but not being able to fight off her attacker when she is found out by the thieves leads to an all too real fate for any woman that gets mixed up with the wrong people. Though she has the wherewithal to leave a trail for Hasegawa to follow, her fate while in their captivity is predictable. At least he had the sense to think likewise and storm the place himself rather than wait for Arson/Theft backup. The fight also nearly costs him his life, which is the most reckless we have seen him till this point. Bound by a sense of honor as well as his personal feelings, Omasa at last proves ‘strong’ in the sense that Heizo wasn’t willing to trade her life to catch the criminals.

While this series remains quite watchable, it seems content to be a standard swordsman drama in the same vein as something like Zatoichi, as in an episodic series focused almost entirely around one man. For it to become more, there would need to be a significant character arc among its principle cast that challenges him in some way, but I don’t see the series moving in that direction.

Good
– Some more insight in Hasegawa’s past via Omasa’s memories
– Heizo, normally always in control, is actually pushed into an uncertain battle

Bad
– While likely accurate, Omasa’s treatment is lamentable.
– Combat animation dips in quality again

 

KimmieKawaii

Image of Omasa and GenpachiAnother ghost from Hasegawa ‘s past emerges this week. When Hasegawa last saw Omasa, she was a spirited child, under the guidance of her criminal father. Twenty years later, she appears before Hasegawa , begging for his help. Omasa has become involved in a corrupt criminal group who eschews the code of ‘honorable thieves’ – no killing, no raping, no stealing from the desolate. After her clan murders a young girl, that Omasa had taken under her wing, she flees. Vowing to help Hasegawa by spying on the clan she escaped from, Omasa ends up being captured by Genpachi, her former clan’s leader.

It was disturbing to witness a bound, naked Omasa lying powerless on the floor. Looming over her helpless body is a man, wearing only a loin cloth. Even though Hasegawa saves Omasa before she is ravished, the entire scene is unsettling. Given Omasa’s history as a spy, it was disappointing to see a strong supporting female be reduced to such a savage, degrading role.

The episodic formula for this series seems to be: a person emerges from Hasegawa’s past, falls victim to tragic circumstances, and relies on him to rescue them. With this being the standard, it would be refreshing if this anime ‘breaks tradition,’ and allows brief opportunities for other characters to shine.

Good
– Edo period consistently well represented throughout series.
– Background animation is visually pleasing.

Bad
– Hasegawa is the only real focus of this series; all other characters are essential only for setting up his next heroic move.
– Vivid scene involving bondage and near rape may be unsettling for some viewers.


This post is part of our seasonal episodic review series. To view all the posts in this series, click the following link: Viewing Party

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