Revenger - 06
In the most important respect, Revenger has been a very consistent series for the first half of its run. Every episode has been solid at the very least, with a couple of really strong ones as highlights. But it's actually cast a deceptively wide net stylistically and tonally. At times it seems gritty and grounded, at others fanciful and even surreal. Even the setting is an interesting pastiche of a quite realistic historical setting and subtle but important divergences (like the English having kicked the Dutch out of Jakarta and being the foreign nation with a presence in Japan during its period of isolation from the West).
This ep was among the most unadorned so far, if I were to put a label on it. It takes on a very conventional form and function, telling its story with little trickery and almost no humor. And it does so very effectively in my view - Revenger wears many faces but it seems quite comfortable in this one. Raizou is strangely both the series least and most humorous character, it seems to me. His utterly deadpan demeanor is the driving force behind a lot of the comedy (and he even spouts a few wry witticisms himself). Ultimately, though, he's certainly a tragic character and this episode is a firm reminder of that.
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Making him an artistic genius was a very interesting plot twist. I enjoy the added dimension it lends to Raizou's arc and the overarching plot. Most palpably this week, it dangles the possibility of something better for him, an actual future. He's good at painting, very good. So much so that the art dealer Yuuen sets him up with offers to have him paint a wall scroll for a wealthy client (a prestigious gig). He tells Raizou that his hands are a "gift from God", and that he should treasure them. He can have no idea how painful it is for Raizou to hear that, and why.
The bottom line is clear - Raizou in no way sees his life as worth protecting, never mind his hands. And he's a load of trouble for the Rebenji-ya, there's no denying that. When the pajama magistrate calls Yuuen (who was that bitten coin he was holding from, I wonder) in and - via the coded doublespeak the two of them use - makes it clear that the "Sweet Potato Samurai" he's hiding is complicating things, Yuuen has no choice but to do the magistrate's bidding and investigate why the Chinatown mob is looking for Raizou. And Raizou takes this as an invitation to deliver himself into the hands of the enemy preemptively and spare his comrades any more trouble.
It doesn't work that way (obviously). Raizou is linked with the Rebenji-ya and vice-versa, and his capture or killing could cause all sorts of trouble for a lot of people. He goes to Chinatown ostensibly to find out why they're looking for him (and trying to kidnap him), but it's immediately clear that the mob is not looking for revenge for Mitsumine's death. Yuuen can't let this go (Nio was right, they should have stopped Raizou in the first place), but Raizou is still captured and tortured by the local kingpin Liu (Hirakawa Daisuke) before a rescue mission can kick into action.
For all their practical reasons for saving Raizou, I do think there's a certain personal loyalty that's developed - especially from Souji, who's trying way to hard to be tsun to hide his dere. It's not an easy operation either, as these guys apparently take the business about not killing without a coin pretty seriously. It's fortunate for Raziou that Liu is called away from the torture session for a meeting with the head of the powerful Nagasaki trade union (Okamoto Nobuhiko). Like seemingly everyone else, he's interested in Raizou. And he knows enough about the Rebenji-ya to see their fingerprints all over the rescue mission.
As for why everyone is looking for Raizou, it's more that they're looking for something else and think he's their best link to it. That is, the massive cargo of opium that the corrupt Satsuma leader Mitsumine was in the process of importing when the Revengers killed him. Unfortunately for all concerned Raizou has no idea where the shipment is, though I doubt that his many current and potential enemies will lay off him anyway. The Rebenji-ya will be keen to prevent that cargo from hitting the streets of Nagasaki, and it's clear this skirmish is a long way from being over.=