I’ve always enjoyed this series since it began but this episode works in some areas and it doesn’t in others. I like the character drama and the rift that I expected from last time between Ai and Nozomi. How it develops here though is a different story. It gave me the feeling that the episode director rushed this intentionally. Considering how there’s only a few episodes left it ends up being a weaker story than what we’ve had recently because all of a sudden we dive right into these girls as the attention of the show: characters that are strengthened as ongoing and detailed entertainment in previous episodes. By using these girls on the sidelines the creators have been able to develop some pretty amazing minor characters especially the Bests but this episode changes this completely. I’d say this one here would have been stronger if it showed up right towards the beginning of Rolling Girls for two reasons.
One being that the girls have traveled together this long and while they haven’t been necessarily pivotal in moving the events forward they’ve been showcased as over-arcing entertainment– especially with the restuaruant scene in this episode. That is until now where this episode completely shifts its attention towards them to write in a quickly developing wrap up to summarize Nozomi, Ai, Yukina and Chiaya. These girls are still getting to know each other and I just find that this fight over Ai just wanting a stone without any thought to how the others feel about being strong the easy way is a cop out: a cop out just for the sake of having some issues between the girls in order to establish drama between these main characters because we are close to the end.
What happened to the idea that made this series so good? Following these girls’ travels to varied lands throughout the country by understanding themselves through others and the problems these districts have in order to establish an episodic wacky adventure series for kids and adults. Perhaps I’m being bias because I love series that use individuality as its potential in setting a story up. Thinking of Mushishi and Space Dandy here.
The second reason being the issues at Hiroshima– the pirate Shima Ishizukuri taking all the stones within the district but we see here that her plan is even one step further– taking them from Chiaya and retaining Hiroshima’s license. This would have been better off if it used just this episode to focus on Hiroshima rather than channel it as background noise to capture a wider dramatic effect that’s far away from the girls’ own problems. Keeping out the events from Tokorozawa and rather than using multiple episodes for Hiroshima they could’ve managed this in just one and spend the rest of the episodes back in Tokorozawa for the final arc.
One good point about this is now that the girls are separated it should give at least one of them determination to use a stone– something I’ve been wanting to see for quite some time. Chiaya has always been the enigma of the group and this just proves it– she’s an alien and I’d guess that these stones came from her homeland. I like how she is the connection that brings this series initial cast full circle while introducing some new characters. There is so much going on– Yukina searching for Chiaya but gets lost, Nozomi searching up to the sky for an answer as to what sort of resolve she needs to be stronger without a stone, Ai storming off and Chiaya learns the truth only to disappear for the remainder of the episode.
I’m glad everything is coming together but will four episodes be enough for this? Shigyo’s assistant getting kidnapped by the alien leader is a good way to bring back the original hero that Nozomi looks up to– Maccha Green. More importantly, if this does go the way I think it’s going to go it will be this event that will be the crucial part of this arc– driving Shigyo and Maccha Green to team up. How will they do this without a stone? Nozomi wants to resolve conflict without a flimsy way [having a moonlight stone] to achieve power however these stones might just be what she has to accept in order to save others.
While this episode does focus on Chiaya and her reveal as an alien I am more intrigued by Kuranosuke’s actions– lying to the Tokorozawa president about keeping tabs on seeing Chiaya in each district proves how much he’s grown. Simply caring for the daughter that has been neglected by her own mother is a good contrast between Haruka’s desire to collect the stones and Ai’s desire to have one all for herself.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 5/10