by Nicholas Dupree,
How would you rate episode 5 of
After nearly half a season of build up, it's finally time for the Trans-America race to begin! Well, almost. First our heroes have to attend a pre-race banquet to pull a raffle for poll position, and more importantly to introduce our last few racers to fill out the cast. And boy are those new racers a lot. We already knew Dylan from episode 3, but we get a few hints that there's more to the guy than gun-slinging and drinking, especially when we meet the other two members of the “Thousand Three” - so named because each is considered a match for a thousand fighters.
The first is Crazy TJ and he is A Look. In a show drenched in exaggerated and culturally stereotypical designs he's somehow both the busiest and most charged. His ensemble is an anachronistic mesh of disparate fashion from the lime green military jacket to the bandanna/goggles combo that must assure he can't see the road in front of him, to the uh...cut off noose around his neck. That's a pretty striking detail to have on a black man in the early 1900s, and I'm not entirely sure if it's meant to be a hint about TJ's backstory or just a tasteless addition from an overeager designer. Like Hototo's...everything...it's not enough to put me off the show for now, but it's something to keep an eye on. Thankfully TJ's personality is as vibrant and entertaining as the rest of the characters, immediately injecting a level of chaotic energy into any scene he's in and effortlessly ruining the stuffed-shirt propriety of the banquet, turning it into a free-for-all competition for poll positions. The entire sequence is some of Appare-Ranman!'s best humor to date, complete with a wonderfully silly cucumber-chopping contest between Kosame and Al.
Besides TJ we also meet the third of the Thousand Three: Gil T. Cigar. That name is already amazing, but outside of being silent and foreboding we don't see much of Gil right now, with his henchman Chase doing all the talking (and arm wrestling) this episode. We do learn that either he or one of his posse were likely responsible for killing Hototo's father and stealing their home, which should prove solid drama fodder later in the show, but for now he's a stoic enigma. He also may or may not be in the center of some foreboding dialogue by the executives of the race, as they assure one another that one of the participants will ensure the race “ends in tragedy.”
Overall “The Eve, and...” is the most vibrant and entertaining the show's been yet. The script is at its strongest when the larger than life personalities of its cast get to clash, and as an appetizer for future racing antics it delivers fantastically here. The over-the-top gunkata between TJ and Dylan is my personal highlight, but the entire episode is full of fun interactions and gags that make it a breezy watch. If this kind of sharp comedy writing can combine with last episodes racing tactics, then Appare-Ranman! is well on its way to first place.
Appare-Ranman! is currently streaming on Funimation.
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