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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Kage No Gundan 2: Episode 3


Directed by Ikuo Sekimoto

After witnessing a foreigner test a gatling gun for members of the Shibata clan by massacring a group of vagrants, the Hayate Kid is injured by the same powerful weapon. The evening prior Hayate was pursued by a group of men for thievery. He eluded capture with the help of a young girl named Chie. Becoming enamored with her, Hayate learns of her sick father, Kajiyama and endears himself with his company after catching fish to serve in his recovery.

Meanwhile, the evil foreigner, Millard, barters for the sale of the gatling gun; a weapon that will enhance the stability of the weak Shibata clan. As an exchange, Millard demands the sight of witnessing the act of Seppuka as well as a woman of his choosing. The woman he chooses just happens to be Chie; having seen her portrait painted by none other than doctor Gennai. Chie's father, Kajiyama, is the accountant for the Shibata clan and he is ordered to pay the money for the gun. He protests vehemently against it and is arrested for his troubles. This incident secures both requests desired by Millard for his trade.

Upon visiting O'oka Tadamitsu, the duplicitous Hiranuma discusses the situation. O'oka has designs on the Shibata clans port. Noting its incredible monetary value, O'oka declares that the illegal purchase of the gatling gun be exposed which in turn will abolish the Shibata clan. Hiranuma will become the new governor and both he and O'oka will control the newfound wealth.

Iga ninja Koroku listens in on the conversation and is discovered. He manages to escape and tells the others of the plan. Believing that if she gives herself to the foreigner she will save her father, Chie is taken to the Shibata Mansion. Hayate goes after her. He encounters Millard and watches helplessly as he attempts to rape her. At the same time the Shadow Warriors are enroute to the Mansion. Enraged, Hayate attacks Millard. Waiting for Millard to arrive, Kajiyama prepares to kill himself. Millard enters but seems disoriented. He falls over dead just as the Shadow Warriors make their entrance and lay waste to the villains and destroy the gatling gun that nearly brought an end to the Shibata clan. Kajiyama and Chie head off away from the city to become farmers. She tells Hayate that when he changes his way of life, she will be waiting for him.

The end scene features a comical moment that has doctor Gennai scolding Shinpachi for destroying the foreign gun, "You have no appreciation for science!" he tells them. Shinpachi changes the subject when he sees Orin approach telling her she's just in time that doctor Gennai can finally paint a portrait of her much to his chagrin. She asks just how much she should disrobe for the event making Gennai the butt of the joke with the others having a laugh at both his and the oblivious Orin's expense.

The director from the previous episode returns for another suitably entertaining program. This one is clearly a star turn for Sanada who gets a love interest and also reveals a bit about his past and why he does what he does. Any fan of Sanada will definitely enjoy this episode as he's the central character and his then wild popularity is warranted with his charisma and photogenic looks. What's amazing about Japanese pop culture is that actors and actresses can be popular on both mediums--television and cinema.

It wasn't unusual to see a popular star in both giving fans more than enough entertainment value. There's not a great deal of action in episode three till the end but it's handled wonderfully especially the surprise entrance of the Shadow Warriors. With this episode being built around Sanada, future episodes would do likewise for other members of the Iga crew. Everyone gets a chance to shine at some point over the course of the 26 episodes.

Continued in Episode Four: THE MOTHER WHO VANISHED!!!

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