Akudama Drive – Episode 5 – “Dead Man Walking”

Ramen sounds pretty good right about now.

Picking up from last week, the Akudama are coming to terms with the fact that their mission has now changed in a striking way now that they have the two children commanding Black Cat joining them. Brawler thinks the job is done, but the two inform all of them that they need to be delivered to a specific location back in Kansai. As they step outside the train, guarded from the Quarantine Zone by the young girl’s shield, Hacker decides to stay behind on train heading into Kanto. His mind is set on escaping his mundane everyday life for something more exciting, even managing to hack the collar bomb off of him so he’s not beholden to the mission anymore. Hacker does decide to leave one of his drones behind to Swindler, with her promising to return it to him at some point after the mission should they meet again. Meanwhile, the Executioners are struggling to deal with the fallout of the Shinkansen heist, with Master and Pupil stuck in a hospital and their Boss being informed that the Akudama are still alive out there.

The Akudama escape to an abandoned ward just outside the Quarantine Zone and settle there for the night before moving on. Doctor attempts to interrogate the two children about who they are and why they were being shipped to Kanto, but Swindler gets in between them before things get too intense. The two do inform them that their next destination is at Expo Park in Kansai, showing the Akudama the exact coordinates and even promising them double their previous pay for completing the mission at this stage. The group starts feeling hungry, and the children present them with a container that can generate their desired foods of choice, giving them some nourishment before deciding what to do next. Meanwhile, Boss decides to pay Pupil and Master a visit in their hospital room, warning them of the stolen cargo and the Akudama’s continued living. As the two wish to atone for their failures in the mission, they are reprimanded and informed of their immediate suspension from the Executioners.

Back at the ward, Courier offers a suggestion to the group: he knows a shortcut that can help them sneak back into Kansai and reach their destination. The group then attempts to get some sleep before they depart to this shortcut. The Boss puts out a massive call to all the Executioners operating within Kansai: a 100-million-yen bounty is placed on each of the Akudama, and they are all wanted dead or alive. They are absolutely serious about stopping these criminals, and as Pupil attempts to inform Master of this development, she notices that Master has disappeared completely. At some point he snuck out and made his way to the Executionier’s HQ for a moment. Once our heroes wake up, they make their way to their shortcut: the north side of a fortification wall outside Kansai. The passage will take them to Takatsuki and, from there, Expo Park. The episode ends with the group being caught off-guard by Master before they can safely head to their destination.

Given the high stakes that have driven the first third of the series run up to now, it’s a good move to use this episode for a bit of breathing room and to set up the stakes for the next part of the mission. Quite a bit happens to shift the relevant players around in the story, not the least of which is the departure of Hacker in the opening scenes. It’s a genuinely jarring moment for a number of reasons, as even though his motivation’s clear an understandable, it’s hard to know how he’d even make it to Kanto at all. Given that he was able to hack his way out of the collar bomb, he must be confident in his abilities to hack past the obstacle of the decontamination zone and into a potentially more thrilling life in Kanto. However, given the later developments with the Executioners all being on high alert, Kansai’s security has no doubt been enhanced beyond any standard means, so removing Hacker from the equation is certainly putting the Akudama on their back feet here.

Between the growing intensity of these new plot developments there’s of course moments of levity to break things up at the abandoned ward, especially with Hoodlum humorously posing and struggling to relax within their current setting. Cutthroat in particular is seen relaxing in a dirty broken bathtub gladly soaking in the rain, and he seems to enjoy himself far more than anyone realistically should. He’s constantly giggling to himself and even shakes off the water at one point like an overgrown dog, which shouldn’t seem possible given the dilapidated ruined building they’re staying in. Crumbling cement structures and constant rainfall mark the area, which is to say nothing of the fortification wall seen near the end: large mechanical structures coated in this musky lighting and toxic-looking dark miasma with only minor shades of green peering through.

The scene of the characters munching on food makes for a fun comedic set piece that helps emphasize the characters’ offbeat personalities rather well. It’s a fairly typical but fun piece of future technology, and naturally everyone uses it to indulge their preferred tastes: Brawler asks for nothing but meat, Cutthroat orders a surplus of marshmallows, Doctor indulges in bread and wine, and Hoodlum… well he tries to order ramen but ends up having to settle for a rice ball. The explanation ends up being a hilarious as the tin would be dirtied and likely damaged by trying to produce ramen… which doesn’t account for the bottle of wine that Doctor orders. It’s a welcome set of joking scenes that helps offset things for the ensuring chaos that is about to trail the Akudama now.

New episodes of Akudama Drive premiere every Thursday and can be streamed exclusively on Funimation.

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