As the episode opens, Sano decides to throw a party. Sure, they have no money as Kory is the only one with a job, but it’ll be fine. Sano says he has it taken care of. Not surprisingly, the others decide to go along, because why not? Party.
One would expect this to lead to a light-hearted, humorous scene as the characters just kick back, relax, and have fun. You get the impression that this is what they were going for, but the writers failed miserably. All of the characters come off as really annoying and adding sake to the equation only makes things worse. Kory gets hit especially hard by this, as she is more shrill than she’s ever been. It’s almost intolerable.
The episode tries to resurrect the Kenshin/Kory/Megumi love triangle for some odd reason. It manifests itself as Kory gets mad when Megumi offers to pour Kenshin’s drink. First off, who cares? Second, why is Megumi suddenly intent on sticking it to Kory in this fashion? There was some jealousy from Kory early on, but that was tossed to the wayside some time ago and there hasn’t really been any evidence that Megumi was interested in him anyway. It just comes off as bizarre.
Now you might wonder why Sano decided to throw the party in the first place. It’s revealed that he’s intent on leaving to go become a freedom fighter again alongside his old buddy Tsunan. While Sano is grateful for the time he spent at the dojo, he feels he has a larger calling.
Kenshin discovers this and decides to stop the two from blowing up a government building. It’s a solid plot hook. You have two friends forced into conflict due to opposing beliefs. It makes for some decent tension and character drama. The episode also brings up the old rivalry between the two, adding another small layer to the proceedings. The voice acting is still a bit flat, but it’s a significant step up from the first half of the episode.
Sadly, Sano doesn’t fare much better here. Actually, from the looks of things, he does worse. He doesn’t even have the excuse of being encumbered by that huge Pyramid Head sword that he wielded back in the early days. He’s quicker here, sure, but Kenshin takes him down a lot faster than he did in their first fight. It’s especially strange as one of Sano’s major strengths was being able to take hard hits and still get back up.
It becomes a moot point anyway as Sano randomly decides to stage the whole thing to prove a point. At least, that’s the impression you get as Sano makes a point to grab Kenshin’s blade to create blood when the latter hits him in the stomach with the hilt. You have to wonder when he changed his mind, but it ends up working for the best as Tsunan sees the error of his ways and decides to become a journalist. It’s a way to show growth and change, but it’s unclear why Tsunan couldn’t keep being an artist. A local merchant even says he had great talent. Why couldn’t he keep doing that without doing the whole domestic terrorist thing?
Overall, the episode is uneven. The party was insufferable and it took time away from the more interesting conflict between Kenshin and Sano. The latter half still had faults, namely the old staples of stilted dialogue and flat voice acting, but it at least brought something to the table. It made for a nice follow up to the last episode and managed to tie up some loose ends while giving Sano a small arc in which to develop.