by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 12 of
There are few things more disheartening than getting to the end of the 12th episode of W'z and realizing that it isn't actually the end of the season. To be fair, this gives W'z the opportunity to defy my subterranean expectations and conclude its story in a more complete fashion. On the other hand, it means having to sit through another half hour of W'z, and “The story might end slightly less terribly!” isn't nearly enough to get me excited about that.
For anybody wondering if Midori and Seba were going to get any characterization before W'z rolled its final credits, then you might be happy to know that W'z devotes about half of this episode in order to deliver a flashback so clumsy and campy that it almost wraps back around to being enjoyable. The short version is that young Midori's father lost everything when his partnership with the Akutagawa Lab was dissolved in the wake of its closure, so in an effort to prove his worth, Midori fought alongside Seba to get his wish from god. He has to vaguely exchange his “body” for this wish, and for some unexplained reason this results in Midori only being able to carry valuable gems and such out of Ziggurat by implanting them into his own flesh. Midori's body is mutilated over and over by his greedy father, and Midori nearly dies from the trauma. The unintentionally hilarious highlight of this whole sequence has to be when Seba helps a feeble Midori shoot his own father to death with a silenced pistol.
There are many issues to be had with this flashback, and not just because it's the only scrap of characterization we've gotten for a woefully bland villain. For one thing, why on Earth did Midori's father decide that the only value his son had as a Hand Shaker would be as a glorified pickaxe for precious gems? Midori explicitly states that he can use the Ziggurat to not only duplicate matter and violate underlining foundations of conservation of mass and energy, but he can also freely remember and communicate information. Wouldn't it be infinitely profitable to use Midori as an information siphon to trade corporate secrets or something like that? Practically speaking, the ability to create an infinite number of gemstones would only make them less valuable as time goes on. If Midori's father was such a greedy old bastard, he might as well have aimed high and gone for world domination.
Beyond the questions raised by Midori's flimsy backstory, there also remains the problem of him being a lame antagonist filling out a needless role in a half-baked story. When Yukiya and Haruka come to Okuike's offices to try and negotiate their way out of Midori's crosshairs, Midori wastes no time in telling them that everything he ever said before was a lie, that he doesn't care about getting a wish from god because he already has one, and that his only true motivation is selfish nihilism that will stop at nothing until Ziggurat has been exploited for all its worth. So what was the point of burying the lede and trying to trick the audience into going along with the obviously false notion of Midori being a complex and ambiguous character? If W'z needed a mustache-twirling Evil McEvilton to come in and give everyone a reason to fight each other, it should have just come out and done that from episode one. It still wouldn't have been any good, but it might have been a little more entertaining.
Naturally, once Midori finished up his sad flashback and gave his bad-guy monologue, he initiates the episode's big fight. It's bad because all of Hand Shakers' fights have been bad, and this one isn't doing anything different from the previous twenty-five episodes. The colors are still garish and distracting, and the CG Nimrods continue to look horrible. The way W'z haphazardly slaps together multimedia sources for buildings and background art will never not be the silliest thing; just look at this shot or this one. I'm also pretty sure the animators forgot to finish outlining Haruka's hand in this scene.
All of this monologuing and fighting just leads up to a halfhearted “To be continued”. Yukiya and Haruka can't beat Midori and Seba, so they retreat, and all of the major Hand Shakers are there to pick them back up and presumably join the fight next week. Will our heroes unite and defeat the Okiuke Group once and for all? That might mean the Hand Shakers franchise will be done with for good this time, so I can only hope so.
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