A random errand allows Sanosuke to pick up a trail leading to an old childhood friend from back when he was part of a rebellion, named Tsukioka. It stirs up ghosts from Sano’s past and allows him to reflect on how much he’s grown.
All of the elements for a good episode are here. The character development for Sanosuke was handled well, sort of. We get to see a bit of history and the reunion with his old friend was a good way to make said history relevant to his current situation.
It’s all dragged down, however, by lackluster voice acting. It’s always been one of the show’s glaring weaknesses, but it is as bad as it’s ever been here. The script relies on emotion, but it’s hard to feel it when all of the line readings are so dull and lifeless. Even when a character gets shot, he doesn’t really seem to react all that much. Characters who are supposed to sound angry or desperate just sound mildly irritated, if that. While it is true that voice actors read their lines off the script in front of them, it is still rather important that they don’t sound like they’re just reading lines off a script. On that front, this episode fails miserably.
The dialogue doesn’t help either. At one point, one of the antagonists tells a random passerby that he’s stealing something and doesn’t leave witnesses. Nobody would actually do this, but then the passerby expresses “shock” at this and points out that he’s going to die before he is inevitably killed. Couldn’t he beg instead? It would’ve sounded more realistic. Also, what was with that evil laugh? The guy literally just went “ho ho ho he he he ha ha ha”. Come on, man! Who does that!? At least try to sound like you’re actually laughing.
Again, the show gives us a villain plot that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. A corrupt politician is committing crimes and planting pictures implicating the rebel movement of which Sanosuke and Tsukioka were a part. Why? It seems like the rebellion was all but squelched and the leader was killed over a decade ago. Were this still an ongoing conflict, it would be much more believable, but the episode strongly implies that Tsukioka is the only one still committed to the cause.
With a little more effort, this could have been a great episode. If the people behind it gave even the slightest impression that they were trying, it could have easily been a gripping watch that left a lasting impression. Instead, it’s boring. If the voice actors don’t care, than why should the viewer?