No. 6 – EP3: epic henshin time ahead

A very late hello again, with the episode reviews of 3, 4 and 5 of No.6 going to be released almost in a torrent of entries. I apologise for the sudden disappearance to people who actually read my reviews – work and school got to me and still are eating at me but I got an off week this week so yeaaaaah making use of it to the MAX.

Once again if you have yet to watch EP1 and 2 this would contain spoilers. This post will be slightly different than the first two as I will be talking about the whole episode and not just the first half like I have for the first two, because…the middle point in the episode isn’t very nice to stop off at.

Also, I will do my best to not put in any novel episodes that I may have read, or any spoilers from EP4/5 into this post (yet) just for those who have yet to watch those two. In case.

Episode 3 continues where we last left off – Shion’s escaped to the West District with Rat, and now he’s getting used to the environment around him. It’s a drastic change – the lush, cool and serene greenery of the city No. 6 versus that of dilapidated shacks, dusty hills and that of the real world – survival of the fittest. Naturally though, Shion, being a total airhead is just completely oblivious to all the nasty and is just perfectly naive.

Rat, of course, mocks him and his utter foolishness at how reality is outside of No. 6 – Shion knows nothing of the truth, only the information and lies that the city has fed him. It has also tried to teach them to simply be satisfied with knowing, and not bothering to ask too much beyond what scientific knowledge they can gain. But Shion has had such doubts long since the time he first met Rat and this is something, over time, we come to see this is the way he has always been thinking.

But such thoughts are not important when things suddenly take a turn for the worse – age spots start to appear on Shion’s skin, and Shion’s fears are realised when he suddenly feels pain and strange thoughts flowing into his head. The struggle to live is quite intense here, but somewhat confusing – which we’ll get to in a bit. I’ll let the pictures do the talking for now, though.

Shion screams at Rat to let him die but Rat denies he has any right to die when he knows too little about the real world, too little to claim that he has any right to die yet. It isn’t his time yet and Rat is literally dragging him back to the living to confront reality. So when Shion finally wants to live…Rat begins to operate and save him.

And pulls out…a pupa. There is an sense of foreboding in the way music is played along with Rat’s actions and dead-set determination to tear down No. 6.

Once that is done, however, scene changes to Safu, having a visit with her grandma before she leaves for No. 5 – which is evidently ominous because it’s starting to feel like every meeting has a meaning behind it. She wishes Safu to just simply enjoy and not worry – two years isn’t a long time to see Shion again, in her opinion.

Then the scene changes to Shion once more, as Safu thinks of him…he has woken up from his abrupt attack, and struggles to understand his physical image upon passing by a mirror – the white hair, red eyes and the red ‘snake’ mark that trails along his body, which we have often seen in promotional material and the OP/ED. Now that image-wise we’re on track, story gets moving.

Rat comes back, with food; but the first thing that Shion questions is that whether he should be alive despite everything that has happened – Yamase’s death, Safu’s words, fleeing from No.6, the wasps. Rat however knocks some sense into our clueless boy again – and once again convinces said boy to live. Getting kind of annoying to keep stressing it but I guess you have to prove it adequately to a kid who’s lived his life following data.

Thereafter you get to see some of the theatrics as Rat cooks some grub which he is so well-known for in novel translations and all. It’s a nice expansion on Rat’s realness as a character.

Rat then shows Shion what he found in his neck during the ‘operation’ – a pupa, unhatched. Shion, with all his memory and knowledge, instantly recalls the whole scene with Yamase to Rat – whom proceeds to laugh at the irony of how No. 6, the perfect city, may soon be suffering from a blight of wasps killing people by insta-aging them.

Undoubtedly Shion and Rat’s ideals clash once again, resulting in Shion feeling more disillusioned and requiring some level of cheering up (and a wet Rat). A little pat and disgustingly sweet smile before we are made to scurry along to the city area in the West District. During the short walk there Shion asks why Rat hates No. 6 so much, but he gets no reply whatsoever.

Until they get to the hotel in the city does Rat speak to him again – episode-wise – and that is when they meet the Dogkeeper/Inukashi, information broker, innkeeper and dog-rental owner.

Thus, when Shion tries to convince Dogkeeper to spread word of the wasps, Rat stops him in his tracks – if he continues in this path, even after knowing the truth, in wanting to save No. 6, Rat will become Shion’s enemy. Shion is now torn between choices – once again, must he decide?

___________________________________________________________________________

The episode is just…alright. What was really monumental plot-wise was Shion’s physical transformation, but beyond that I felt something was lacking after re-watching the episode. It felt a bit disjointed again at times, like the flow and planning of the episode was a bit awkward – the mid-episode break was right when they started talking about the pupa, but I felt the moment might have been more appropriate elsewhere such as when maybe Shion woke up after his transformation. Then, in slight comparison to the novel – Dogkeeper doesn’t quite appear so early. Part of me is slightly confused, but alright we’ll leave it at that.

But you gotta admit seeing the mice around makes things a little more cheery.

Character development wise Safu is completely a touch-and-go thing, Shion doesn’t feel like he’s changed much under the skin – other than being completely clueless and naive still – and Rat’s still…Rat. But Rat seems to be a lot more emotional than what I might have expected him to be. For some reason the plot kind of affected development of any kind to me, but having read the translated novels I believe that would help to expand the story and chara development a lot more.

Rat’s theatrics are something to always look out for, though – it is really enjoyable to see it realized in animated form, and it makes the scene become so real and alive and possible.

Though, sometimes you wonder if all this is just a facade for more, perhaps?

Notably though how they did Shion’s close death encounter was quite intense – the screaming, the tears and Rat’s screaming at him to live – it sounded that almost Rat was begging for Shion to live, possibly because he was the only thing, person that Rat had ever felt a human connection to? The body twisting and all in its death throes were pretty decent and really brought to life the novel experience, which is good.

But I have to mention something though – while looking through my screenshots for this episode especially, there are many close-ups on the faces of each character; every expression there seems to be a little minute change and it’s nice to note that. Though the close-up many people surely noted as the one when Rat went to almost caress Shion’s hair, right?

On so many levels, people would immediately identify this action as one leading up to BL, but that’s sort of hard to say when we know that Shion clearly does not know whatever the hell love is after all the education in No. 6, plus it is somewhat uncertain how Rat reacts to him. Sure, put on your fujoshi glasses and you’ll see what you might want, but look beyond that and perhaps it’s more of a platonic love of sorts? It’s probably an argument for another day but it seems that their relationship is quite complicated yet pretty simple, depending on how you want to see it. Best way out of this? Leave it to the author, Atsuko-sensei to clarify but I doubt that will ever be clear.

Nonetheless, this episode was just sort of ‘move along, move along’ – doing it almost for the sake of getting to Shion’s change. Sure the rats are cute and all while interacting with Shion, but wait till you see episoes 4 and 5. So cute, just gives you the heebie jeebies.

Posting some bonus fanart the next time around! I’ll be putting it up real soon once I get the screenshots arranged, I wrote the post just a day after this one.

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