Nanbaka: One Last Breakout (Episodes 12-13, Season Finale)

After much delay and some, shall we say, unfortunate setbacks at home, I’m back to do some house cleaning with my anime obligations. First up, Nanbaka, and this goes with a bit of an explanation: behind the scenes, we all agreed to only cover one-cour (one season) shows for our anime recaps, and for me, it seemed to be that way. And then they announced that Nanbaka would get a second season, exclusively online. As it stands, I won’t be doing any more recaps for this show, after these last two episodes, but that doesn’t mean I’ll be dropping the show entirely. I’ll chime in at the halfway point of the second season, and give a recap of what’s been going on with this show; at this point, I owe it to all of you reading this to, at the very least, finish what I started. With that said, let’s wrap this sucker in a nice sparkly bow, shall we?

Episode 12: “The Room, The Darts, The Billiards, and Me”

When last we left off, Musashi was back in his cell, ready to talk about his past; in short, he was born with a fire in his belly, so to speak, and it materialized in his later years via spontaneous combustion. All doesn’t appear to be as it seems, though, as his house is burning down with his parents inside, and a certain spiky-toothed and blonde-haired fellow is quick to point the finger at Musashi, pushing the blame on him. In short, this ruins his life completely. Shortly thereafter, he was brought into custody for experimentation, and that’s how his body came to be, with free control of fire. Geez, does EVERYONE have a tragic backstory in this show? Well, anyway, suffice to say that quite a lot of people want the man with the scar, hereon referred to as That Man, apprehended and/or dead, be it Jyugo, Musashi, or Musashi’s guard, who wants justice for there being illegal experimentation within a prison.

But enough of that doom and gloom, let’s get back to some more lighthearted subject matter, with Uno looking to build a game room all for his own, with some help from his fellow prison-mates and guards. All from the ground up, even. And what game room is complete without a couch, pool tables, and dart boards, right? And although there are plenty of fun and games to be had, they’re unfortunately given all of one hour per day inside, much to everyone’s annoyance. But Hajime’s rule is law, you know. Nighttime has fallen, and–ohhhhhhh my goodness, Uno with his hair down… folks, I think I’m in love. Uh, anyway, Uno is talking with Jyugo, who’s still awake at this late hour, offering some comforting words, but Jyugo shrugs them off and heads outside for a moment. Some of those words, I’d remember, namely this sentence: “If we live happily, we win.” But outside, Jyugo’s momentary pondering is interrupted by a sudden intruder: a sharp-toothed blondie with pointed ears. The same one that ruined Musashi’s life.

More of the weird blend of super-serious with light-hearted comedy with heartwarming with this episode. But one last episode to go, let’s see how things all close out.

Episode 13: “Real Idiot”

The first thing this nefarious fellow does with Jyugo, after toying with him, sneaks in a stab to Jyugo’s ribcage. You know, with a knife. Or did he? Well, as it turns out – and you’re all going to be REALLY surprised, too – this pointed-ear fellow has a tie to… you know, That Man. And that doesn’t make Jyugo feel any better. Much like Musashi, Jyugo was also subject to experimentation – remember the blades? – and that includes those shackles that Jyugo always wears, which this certain guy is here to collect, as well as another thing that Jyugo is in possession of: his brain. Seriously, he goes so far as to draw a line on Jyugo’s face to cut it open, and then… he starts to cut his face open, drawing blood. That is REALLY gruesome, seeing it slowly pierce his skin and draw blood; the squeamish should be advised. But before it can go any further, Jyugo’s blades kick in and slices the other guy’s knife in half – his name is Elf, by the way, very original. And it’s here where Elf’s real plan is revealed: he wants a new test subject, and makes mention of some “interesting samples” around Jyugo. Just like that, though, he teeters off and falls off the roof to the water below; Jyugo is left pretty scared, though, that more people will come for him, as well as his friends.

The next night, Jyugo seems to be in brighter spirits, and as he prepares to head out of the cell, everyone else comes up and joins in; time for another breakout attempt, it seems. As per usual, they run the gambit of traps and head out to the final trap of the building: Hajime himself. But then Jyugo decides to go into business for himself, locking the gate behind him and keeping everyone else on the other side. Hajime warns Jyugo to not cross the “stop” line, but he steps over it, habitually. Guess you could call Jyugo a habitual line-stepper, huh? But jokes aside, he’s doing this to make sure his friends aren’t in any danger from Elf, because if Jyugo is away from Nanba Prison, there’s no threat to anyone else. And so, we begin another round of Jyugo vs. Hajime, and it’s a mostly one-sided affair with Hajime getting about 97% of the offense in. On the other side, though, Seitarou (the light-blue-haired guard) appears and, begrudgingly, opens the gate for Uno and Nico and Rock to walk through and go after Jyugo. Both Uno and Rock get in the way between Jyugo and Hajime, and this allows Nico to land a knee to the back of Jyugo’s leg, knocking him down in the process. All three men pin Jyugo down, and after Nico and Rock plead their cases as to why they should still all be together, be it in the cell or outside, Uno clobbers him with a punch, for his face getting scratched by Jyugo’s blade. Hajime isn’t too enthused by this, and orders them all back into their cell, where they’re all happily enjoying their solitude, as well as each other’s company. The moral of this story is, it’s not “all for one,” it’s only “one for all.” These four may be a band of ragtag idiots, but they always stand by one another, no matter what. It’s a very tight-knit bond that they all share, and they’ll always have each other’s backs, be it in a breakout or just a couple of hijinks in the prison. They’re friends and bros for life, and bless them for it.

So where do we go from here? Well, first off, I have to ask how Nanbaka even got a second season to begin with – its first volume disc sales in Japan were absolutely horrid (543 discs, RIP), so it has to be doing a lot better online than anywhere else; its second season is even being made exclusively online, with no television stations in Japan airing it. But aside from that, seeing how we have a one-cour-only rule (again, this was announced midway through the season), I won’t be doing the usual play-by-play for this show’s second season, which means I won’t give a full final verdict for this show until the second season is done. And that means, for now, we’re done with Nanbaka and we’re putting this show on the shelf for a bit.

Farewell for now, you incarcerated idiots.

Nanbaka is available on Crunchyroll as a weekly simulcast, every Tuesday at 3:30pm EST, and on FunimationNow as an English simulcast dub, every Saturday at 10:30pm EST.

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