As the episode opens, we see that Kory has treated the group to a trip to Yokohama via the fairly recently built steam train. Before departing, they learn that a wealthy British nobleman has rented a car and is traveling with a large collection of gold coins.
Right there, you know where the episode is going: train heist. One wonders how this is a “surprise incident” given how frequently it occurs in fiction, but that’s a nitpick. At first it looks like just one guy is gunning for the loot, but it is revealed to be a group effort as Yoshi is taken hostage and the train is stopped by a group of pirates who have blocked the track with logs. It’s still not quite as meticulous as Walter White’s train robbery, but it works for what it is.
The plot is simple, but it actually works out rather well. Yes, the villains are one-dimensional, but they’re robbers. They don’t really need a whole lot of depth and nuance. Considering how over the top some of the show’s villains have been, it was oddly rather refreshing to see a group of run of the mill robbers.
It also allows the whole group to get in on the fight in the climax. It was great to see everyone getting in on the action and getting chances to shine. Usually, it just falls on Kenshin to win the day, but this was a team effort. He does get a strong showing in a one on one fight on the train’s roof (because of course you want a fight on the roof of a train) so the episode handles that rather well.
The episode does have flaws. The dialogue in the first half is rather weak. ‘Stein’s Gate’ was able to use bickering as a way to create charming dynamics, but here, characters just whine for no apparent reason. Sanosuke gets hit the hardest with this as his generally stoic demeanor is tossed aside as he spends most of the episode shouting about random things. It’s really out of character. It is established that he didn’t get a lot of sleep, but his fear of cameras stealing his soul comes out of nowhere and doesn’t really add anything.
The animation is also rather off. Character’s faces look odd (beyond the changes made for the sake of goofy humor) at several points and some of the shots are framed at weird angles.
The laws of physics also seem to take a backseat as Kenshin is able to find a horse that can leap tall buildings in a single bound. Sano is also able to pull a disconnected train car. How he wasn’t just yanked off the car is beyond me.
All things considered, this episode was one of the show’s stronger ones. It’s simple, but effective. There were things that could be improved, but it made for a reasonably entertaining one-off story.