A very slow, yet paradoxically rushed episode, perhaps because it almost immediately undoes the reunion that has been built up for a while. It leaves no room for a breather.
For the most part, we see the kids trying to get their parents' approval to join the fight once again. It's an obvious step to take and has the potential for some very moving moments, but pales in comparison to the real reunion from the last episode. By cramming everyone's stuff into the running length, matters that really demand more time are left condensed and unsubstantial, an enduring challenge for this series since the beginning. Surprisingly, Rika and Takato's subplots are less successful than Henry's. Takato's just amounts to him getting from points "A to B" and quickly talking on the phone, which is very lite in light of the reunion with his mother. Rika's has a bit more thought put into it, and I liked the symbolism from the new shirt. Unfortunately, it feels more obligatory than earned, because attempts to mend the bond between Rika and Rumiko have been sporadic and haven't received the focus they deserve, even within individual episodes. Clearly, the writers thought that spreading seemingly important moments across the series would be sufficient, but crafting entire stories that run the length of individual episodes speaks much louder in a TV series. Watch the episode "Road Trip" from "Hey Arnold", which essentially covers the gamut of this subplot, but with more substance and insight. Personally, I would have liked for Rumiko to share these details on her life earlier, in a less rushed fashion.
The scene with Henry and his sensei is just more pointless philosophizing, but the one between Henry and his mom is successful, partially because her reaction has conviction. You believe that she doesn't want to again risk losing her son, but still declines to force him to stay. The story she shares of Janyu is actually quite interesting, and combined with Rumiko's statements makes me wonder if this episode would have been a lot stronger if told from the point of view of the adults.
As it is, most of the episode lacks a palpable sense of build-up, save for the scene in the tunnel at the end and some very creepy moments from the Jeri imposter, which send a chill down my spine. I must say, the staff really outdid itself in creating something legitimately unnerving, and believe it or not the Japanese versions of these sequences are even scarier.
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