“Secret Theft Tactics”
On a journey to see his father’s grave, Hasegawa makes his way through Enshu where he happens upon a couple trying to escape the local authorities. Though he is duty bound to hand them over, a thief named Zenpachi convinces him that their master is a crooked man. Pretending to be a thief himself, Hasegawa helps Zenpachi plan a robbery.
As much as I enjoyed last week’s episode I was happy to see Chugo in the first couple minutes, but Hasegawa unfortunately sidelines him for the majority of the episode. This series is called Onihei, after all, and we can’t have someone else stealing the show. Why he wishes to be alone might have something to do with visiting his father’s grave, but it gives another character the opportunity to shine as well as engage Hasegawa in one of his more unconventional roles.
Hasegawa is no stranger to bending the rules a bit to get what he wants, but this latest adventure has a different motivation than the duties of Arson Theft Control dictate. He knows something is off about the two servants that the Magistrate Numata takes away, but his position as a lawman binds his hands. Fortunately, Zenpachi’s persistent story about how corrupt the servants master, Ichiguro Masuya, is convinces him to help the otherwise solo thief in his latest heist. It helps that Zenpachi is another example of the ‘honorable thief’ like Kumehachi, sworn to steal only from the corrupt and wicked.
But aside from wanting to free the servants, who were no doubt undergoing harsh punishment for trying to rob Ichiguro, Hasegawa acts in a much more personal way than he normally does. Even more than the ‘law’ which protects Ichiguro, Hasegawa’s sense of honor demands that something be done to help people who acted more out of desperation than malice. He helps Zenpachi rob Ichiguro on the off chance that they might be able to liberate the two servants, but seems willing to help the elderly thief regardless as he finds the man more honorable than Numata or Ichiguro.
Zenpachi’s story is wrapped up nicely as well as viewers are shown why he decided to take help in the first place. In this, Hasegawa’s beliefs are confirmed that he’s a good man at heart, and that their caper was worthwhile. It was also rather humorous to see that Zenpachi avoids robbing in Edo out of fear of the famous Onihei. Though I doubt we’ll see this guy again, his eccentricity made him a nice partner for Hasegawa’s wit.
While the episode ends on a predictable note, it’s another decent entry in a series full of one-shots. It makes it hard to judge it on the same scale as the other shows we’re watching this season, but so far I’m quite satisfied with what we’ve been given.
– Heizo takes on an unconventional role as both a criminal and a sidekick
– Zenpachi is quite funny and charming
– A fairly predictable sequence of events
As excited I was to see Chugo’s familiar face again this week, it wasn’t long before Heizo cast him off with a bit of coin to take advantage of the ‘local wares.’ Because having a supporting character appear regularly throughout this series is just not reasonable. To be fair, there is really no room for anyone else what with Heizo’s glistening curls dominating every scene. This is exactly why Heizo’s newest supporting character is a half size thief with a full size personality.
Zenpachi lives off the grid and above the rules. This cunning crook has been in the game of robin hood type thievery, stealing from coffers fat with gold, for decades. He happens upon Heizo rescuing a couple of runaway servants from what he assumes are bandits– he later learns the servants stole a sum of money from their employer. Impressed with this noble ronin’s skills, Zenpachi concludes that Heizo is the only man capable of helping him with his next ‘hit.’ Despite Heizo’s continuous opposition, Zenpachi persists until he eventually agrees.
The peculiar duo embark on a stealing and kidnapping mission against a corrupt businessman who has been paying the local magistrate to overlook his crooked dealings. Taking up with an established thief to bring down a prominent magistrate of a small local precinct is rather uncharacteristic of Heizo. It isn’t disclosed what ultimately sways Heizo’s decision, so viewers are left to speculate (and we are getting rather good at that).
WeekendOtaku theorized that despite being a lawman himself, Heizo was unsettled by the sight of seeing two thieving servants being beaten by a group of ‘enforcers.’ Though it shameful to steal, the unjust treatment they were forced to bear was equally dishonorable. This makes sense to me. As it has been shown in the past, Heizo is sympathetic to the plight of those who fall victim to unfortunate circumstances. If anything, this episode reinforces the idea that ethical code and moral righteousness is blurred by ambiguous, gray situations.
While supporting characters may struggle to obtain even brief appearances from week to week, this is the second episode that involves women getting raped. Again, given the Edo period and the way women were regarded in that era, it is fitting. With that said, the audience can manage without the consecutive reminders. It would be refreshing to see a strong female character in a meaningful role before this series is over. One whose merits are highlighted without the added degradation of being captured and raped.
– Animation budget was all invested in the breathtaking backgrounds.
– Everyone can relate to having that one uncle that Zenpachi reminds them of.
– WeekendOtaku and I are becoming experts in filling in narrative gaps with theories.
– The audience completely understands that the Edo period was not an ideal time to be a woman. Trust me, no woman is choosing it when posed the question “which era do you wish you lived in?”
This post is part of our seasonal episodic review series. To view all the posts in this series, click the following link: Viewing Party