Inuyashiki Last Hero
Episode 10

by Theron Martin,

How would you rate episode 10 of
Inuyashiki Last Hero ?

Inuyashiki has been uneven overall but spikes on the high side. This episode is one of those spikes, and not just because it's the biggest action blow-out of the series to date.

It starts by revealing that the end of last episode was an exercise in misdirection. Yes, a plane did crash, but not the housing the characters featured at the end of last episode. I'm glad, because the series has proven quite well that it doesn't need to resort to such cheap gimmickry in order to engender emotional investment. In any case, it wasn't just one plane that crashed but several, as Hiro literally makes aircraft rain down on the city. I'm dubious that so many jetliners would be in Tokyo airspace all at the same time, but perhaps Hiro cast his control net out much wider than it seemed? Either way, it's a relatively minor oversight because the crux of the scenario is an epic catastrophe that Ichiro must try to prevent from getting worse – which he does in equally epic fashion.

This leads to the confrontation we all knew was coming: Ichiro vs. Hiro. For all the visual spectacle that follows, first with fisticuffs and finger-guns and then with both combatants racing through the sky and shooting laser beams or mini-missiles or whatever those are at each other, I actually thought the key moment came where Hiro tearfully realized that he was the villain, which suggests that he always entertained at least some notion of having the moral high ground. (It makes a lot of sense, because how often in reality do people actually embrace themselves as being a villain? Like Hiro, most fall into the role without realizing it.) I also found it ironic that for all of the willfulness that both characters have shown, the battle came down to being finished on autopilot after both were knocked unconscious.

Strong action isn't what distinguishes this series, though. Once again it comes back to emotional appeal, whether it's the woman on the plane tearfully realizing that she'll survive to see her loved one after all or Shion breaking down as she finally accepts that her beloved is a really bad person. But this week, the feature is Mari. As expected, one of the falling planes has damaged the Shinjuku government building enough that Mari and her friend are trapped on the observation level. Ichiro having to fend off Hiro delays him too long, to the point that I actually thought Mari would be tragically killed off. Rarely in an anime series have I felt so relieved to see this scenario avoided, so I have to give kudos to the series for selling the emotional investment on writing, visual, and musical levels. The effect is compounded by scenes of Ichiro continuing to save people, seeing Ando's reaction at the ideals he'd hoped for in Hiro being fully realized by Ichiro, and Ichiro's own tears at accepting that this opportunity to be a hero justifies his whole life. The only thing bringing all this down is that the art and animation continue to be inconsistent.

The story isn't over, as the broken Hiro is found and possibly revived by a couple of women in the final scene. While there is one episode remaining, this week offers about as strong a finish as the series could have managed.

Rating: A

Inuyashiki Last Hero is currently streaming on Amazon's Anime Strike.

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