Good day inmates and prison guards alike. It's everyone's least favorite admin here to take over for Nearó while he's away for the time being. My reviewing style will be a bit different so forgive me if it is not to your liking. This episode of Nanbaka is the last we'll see this season, ending the first season on a somewhat vague note that once again leaves us with more questions than answers, gifting us pieces to the puzzle that don't quite fit together right just yet.
As stated above, we're still left with several pieces that don't quite fit together just yet. In this episode, we learn that Jyugo's name may have more meaning than previously thought as well as that there is something much darker lurking in both the future and the past for our character, learning of the sacrifice made by an yet to be identified man to give Jyugo a chance to live a happy life as more than just a test subject whatever horrific experiments that Elf and more than likely the man with the scar were conducting and probably continue to do so with the mention that Elf was looking for another subject from Nanba prison. Elf is also given his first proper introduction in this episode, having little screen time up until this point. Elf's ability is hinted at during several points while interacting with Jyugo on the roof, seeming to have some kind of powerful illusion ability that can screw with people's minds to the point that the illusions shown feel real, such is the case when Jyugo mentions he feels the blade enter his side despite there being no wound when he steps away.
Jyugo is this episode's other major player, taking a very typical shonen protagonist road when faced with a danger that seems to threaten his friends. Rather than explaining his situation to them or even to Hajime, which it was shown during Musashi's interaction with Kenshirou during episode 12 that they might be willing to listen and even become allies as the antagonist they face is a threat to all of Nanba which the staff have sworn to protect. Jyugo decides he'd rather attempt to walk the lonely road that most shonen anime like to have the main characters think they have to take before having their friends show up to snap them out of their delusional state and tell them that they'll face the oncoming threat together. It disappoints me to see that this is the route taken in Nanbaka, a series that up to this point has done well to avoid a lot of the huge troupe, balancing the action and comedy in a way that made the series feel energetic and alive while also feeling fresh and new, a welcome break from the likes of other shonen shows and manga.
All of our favorite cast members come back for the final ten minutes of the episode as Jyugo decides that he will leave Nanba in hopes of taking Elf with him and saving his friends from the possibility of being taken as Elf claimed he was there to do. Similarly to the first episode, we see our cast make it to outside the prison only to be once again confronted by Hajime who doesn't intend to let the inmates of cell 13 escape. Neither does Jyugo as he leaves his friends behind to face Hajime one on one once again, seeming adamant to make this encounter different from the one before as Jyugo battles Hajime with his blades. I want to take a moment to say that the animation during this fight scene was very well done, everything flowed very well and the overall quality of the animation was much higher than I've seen anywhere else throughout the series. Which is why it pains me that it was short-lived and failed to carry the emotional weight it should have. After recently beginning to enjoy his life and Nanba alongside his friends he is forced to make the decision to leave it all behind and start over somewhere else once more in order to protect the people who were important to him. Hajime stood as the one final obstacle that stood between him and ensuring the safety of his friends and yet the fight didn't seem to carry that weight, feeling like a brawl rather than a confrontation between the man willing to give up everything to protect his friends and the man willing to do anything to stop him. In the show's final few minutes, Uno takes the spotlight to show just how much of an awesome friend he is to Jyugo, stepping in front of a rampaging Jyugo's blade for the second time in the series so far, telling him that if he wanted to continue fighting that he would have to cut through him. This action makes Jyugo hesitate as doing anything of the like would go against everything he was trying to do to begin with. This allows Nico to get a drop on the blade-wielding inmate and knock him to the ground for the others to dogpile him into submission.
Something that bothered me greatly about this episode is Elf's calling Jyugo selfish. I found the usage of that word to describe Jyugo as odd considering the later half of episode nine had Hajime explaining Jyugo's lack of greed at how Jyugo never seemed to really want anything, only chasing the man with a scar to give his life purpose. It just seemed odd to me but I'm willing to give the author the benefit of the doubt in what he chooses to call Jyugo as they know far more about the character than I could possibly hope to with the information that has been given to us thus far.
In conclusion, I felt that the episode was great for it to simply be that, an episode. If this was the end and we would have to wait years or months to see how it continued I feel this episode would be a disappointing ending point but lucky for us Nanbaka lovers out there the second season is airing only a week after the end of the first, allowing us to get right back into the action and hopefully put a few more of the pieces together. I'm sure there are many more exciting things forward to in the future, will we learn more about Jyugo and Elf's mysterious connection? Will Kenshirou's investigation prove fruitful? Will we get to see Uno shirtless? So many exciting possibilities that we'll have to wait next week to find out. Anyway, that's all from me. What did you like about the episode? What did you not like about it? Tell me how you felt in the comments below.