by Nicholas Dupree,
How would you rate episode 12 of
The team's together, the cars are fixed, and even Kosame is back in action despite still having a bullet hole in his gut, which means it's time for the crew to finally take down Gil! Well, after they clear out all the adds in the final level of this raid, anyway. Sorry guys, even if you're real-life speedrunners there's no glitch to skip straight to the final boss, so have fun fighting it out with Gil's nameless underlings before you can reach the head honcho.
That's basically the entirety of this episode, save for a stone-cold opener where Gil convinces one of his two businessmen hostages to kill the other for his freedom, before predictably shooting the “free” guy right in the back. It's yet another classic heel move, and where it lacks in originality it makes up with sheer charisma. I'm still not exactly thrilled with how one of show's two living female characters has to sit out the entire 3rd act handcuffed and being threatened with rape, but Appare-Ranman is at least considerate enough to not get visually exploitative with it. It's not great and I'd prefer something different, but it's not enough to ruin the show or storyline for me.
Meanwhile the rest of the episode is pure action, with some highs and lows in execution. On the high end is Jing's battle with Gil's henchlady (why do shows always do that…), which once again gives us some fantastic martial arts vs cowpoke action, ending with Jing delivering a full on fighting game combo to take her opponent down. There's also Chase's “fight” where he hams up getting shot just long enough to follow the crony who shot him back to the boss lair. In a sea of gunslinging outlaws Chase could easily have fallen into the background, but keeping up his trickster streak is a great way to make him stand out among his more outlandishly powerful allies. Comparatively, Appare and Kosame's duel with shotgun dude is less impressive – the only difference from any earlier fights is Appare's now invented the electric taser gun – but I suspect that's due to saving something special for the showdown with Gil in the finale. The major disappointment is Hototo and Tristan's bout with a guy wearing dynamite bandoleers. That setup sounds like prime material for a goofy-ass cartoon brawl, but since it has to share time with so many others it basically amounts to Tristan hulk rushing the guy through a few buildings. It's not bad, but there's some wasted potential, even if it's a sweet reminder that Hototo now has a whole posse of big brothers looking out for him.
And that brings us to the final confrontation with Gil, likely to take up the bulk of next week, and strangling any lingering fantasies that this racing series would end with some racing. That's not as much of a complaint as it might sound – even as its central conceit has fallen by the wayside, AR's been a consummately watchable thrill ride for weeks now – but more an observation of how odd this particular conclusion feels. There's been talks and wonders about a possible second season (We DO get a hint that Gil's plans are much bigger than just disrupting the race for ransom), and while I wouldn't bet the farm on it, I am curious just how this show will go out next week. This episode was a solid enough appetizer, but I'm very much ready for the main course.
Appare-Ranman! is currently streaming on Funimation.
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