Among other things, we got our first extended looks at a couple of important figures past and present this week. Via a flashback to a typhoon 9 years earlier we meet the Takakura Dad, Kenzan (Koyasu Takehito). He seems to have been the GAR, action-first macho type - as witness him taking an ill Himari on his shoulders and carrying her through the typhoon to a hospital when no ambulances were available. Kanba is his father’s son, obviously, and that’s never more clear than when he takes off after his Dad, an act that’s echoed by events later in the ep. He nearly gets his Dad killed, but that’s Kanba.
Kanba is a character I’ve been slow to warm to, as he’s frankly come off as a dickhead in the first four episodes. But though he wasn’t on screen all that much, this episode goes a long way towards fleshing him out as a character. He is, after all, basically the provider protector for his family (though we don’t really know why yet) and it turns out his Uncle is trying to sell their house and split the siblings up with different relatives. Kanba is clearly mixed up with some bad people and doing some bad things for a good reason. He’s selling some sort of secrets to someone, and he appears to be mixed up in the escalator incident involving Asami last week, though whether he was the one who pushed her we can’t be sure.
Speaking of, Asami seems to have survived, and visiting her in her hospital room is another character making a long-awaited debut. It’s Natsume Masako (the one and only Horie Yui) and while there’s a clear connection with Kanba, we don’t know just what yet. Natsume is still a mysterious presence at this point, but she possesses some sort of penguin-themed laser beam that’s able to erase Asami’s memories of her “accident”. That and her remark that “we need to crush him soon” make it hard to escape the conclusion that she’s mixed up with both Kanba’s illicit moneymaking and the Survival Strategy.
Our favorite stalker is more effectively used this week, as a supporting character – a role that’s better suited to her appeal. Ringo, like Kanba, gets a little more context this week – and it’s easy to see she obsesses over Tabuki because of her parents divorce. Daddy (Tachiki Fumihiko) isn’t around much, and seems focused on his new family more than his old one. The scene between father and daughter in the restaurant is excellent – the dialogue is very subtle and understated, but it’s easy to see the impact it has on Ringo. She ends up commiserating with Shouma and Himari again and, after some excellent mugging for the camera by Himari over dinner as Shouma and Ringo argue, Shouma and Ringo end up being called before alien Himari.
The survival strategy sequence is already getting old, but we have variation this time – it’s the first time someone other than Sho and Kanba are involved, and Ringo proved more than a match for the hat. After being called “Perverted Stalker Slut” and “rotten puke-brained bitch-ass whore” (oh, to have been in the writers room) Ringo gets dropped – except she refused to go down the hole, and bitch-slaps alien Himari and tosses the almighty hat onto a passing truck. Damn! Unfortunately this causes Himari to become rather dead, and what follows is one of the most spectacularly animated chase scenes in anime, culminating with Kanba and #1 being dragged along Indiana Jones style before finally rescuing the hat. It’s a stunner.
For the most part that was pretty serious stuff, but we did get our usual comedic gems from the penguins. I think the cutaways to their antics are actually much funnier when what’s being cut away from is dark, as it was this week, and Penguin #2 (Shouma’s) is especially hilarious drying Ringo's uniform with a hair dryer and doing his usual pest control (the cockroaches extract their revenge). I think the biggest win is that unlike last week, MPD managed to keep it’s wildly creative insanity intact while still meaningfully advancing the plot and laying out some very interesting plot twists. Doing that while at the same time giving Kanba, Ringo and Himari their most appealing week as characters is a major step forward for this series.