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Ninja Kamui
Episode 9

by Jairus Taylor,

How would you rate episode 9 of
Ninja Kamui ?
Community score: 3.2

Ninja Kamui has been on a pretty solid streak over the last few episodes, and it was starting to win me over again after a few rough patches. As it turns out, though, most of that improvement seemed to be leading up to the end of this week's episode and what it means for Higan's growth as a character. Unfortunately, in execution, the actual payoff here is…not great, and on both a writing and animation front, this is probably the show's worst episode to date.

While Higan and the others are busy planning their next move, things are going less well for our resident evil techbro Joseph, who's getting piled on left and right after Higan and Emma blew up one of his factories last week. This all finally causes his mask to slip as he rants about his desire to control the world through his tech and that those ninjas on his payroll aren't doing their job (he also tries to get Big D to work during his paid time off, which is by far the worst act of evil he's committed). Subtlety has never really been this show's strong suit, but having him go on about his evil plans this way does feel a bit too silly, even by its standards, and highlights how little he's contributing at this point. Apparently, Yamaji seems to think so, too, as he reminds him that throughout history, the role of the ninja has been to remove guys like him from the face of the Earth and that he's starting to test his patience. However, it just makes it more perplexing why Yamaji is even willing to work with him, and given how little we know about Yamaji or his goals, I'm not confident the answer will be all that interesting.

All this leads into this week's fight, as Big D shows up at the hotel Higan and the others stay at for round two of their previous duel. Before it can start, though, Joseph decides to take matters into his own hands as he sends some agents to deal with Emma and the others. While this all provides a bit more action than usual, none of it looks great as the animation is plagued with a lot of ghosting, even for the fighting between the 3DCG suits, and the 2D action is also on the clunkier side of things. The actual fight between Higan and Big D is also relatively short, as cutting back and forth between them and what's going on with Mike and Emma leads to it wrapping up pretty anticlimactically. I almost felt like I missed something. On the bright side, we do finally get to see what Big D looks like without the tokusatsu armor or giant shades, but seeing how much better he looks without all that just kind of drives home how much the toku suits were probably a mistake and makes me wish he could have walked around this way for the entire show.

Still, that bit of disappointment is minor compared to what happens next, as it turns out that Joseph planted a bomb in Big D, and when it goes off in front of Mike, Emma shields him at the cost of her life. Given that Emma was seemingly fridged just a few episodes ago only to turn out fine, I almost couldn't believe the show had the audacity to pull this kind of stunt a second time. Still, as the sad music kicked in right before the explosion, I knew her fate was sealed, and it honestly sucks. In hindsight, I should have seen this coming: the show has been putting a lot of focus on her over the past few episodes, and it was pretty clear that she was going to be used to help give Higan a clearer sense of purpose in his goals beyond just simple revenge. Heck, the first few minutes of this episode even had the whole gang bonding over shrimp-fried rice, which should have made it clear as day that someone was going to kick the bucket before it was through.

Of course, none of that changes the fact that the show killed off its best character, and it happened in such a hamfisted way only makes the blow hit worse. It doesn't help that we get a flashback to a conversation between Mike and Higan, showing that Higan had decided to bring down the organization to free fellow ninjas, like Emma, from their duties, meaning that he had already learned the lesson she died for. Now, she is at least given a pretty solid send-off to give credit where it's due. She gets to reveal her true face to Mike. We learn that he's started to view her as a surrogate daughter after he lost his own, but as solid as these emotional gut punches are, her death still feels pretty unnecessary in the grand scheme of things. It's seriously killed my enthusiasm for the rest of the show. Now Higan is, once again, ready to go on the warpath, and while it's cool that he's fighting for a somewhat nobler cause now, I wish that Emma didn't have to bite the big one to make that happen.


Ninja Kamui airs on Adult Swim and streams on Max.

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