This week we have proof that Riku clearly is a cut above the rest of us mere mortals (our fair Venusian aside), as we see from this week’s opening sequence, where he remembers being born. And if you think he looked cute then, you should see him later in his charcoal grey designer suit. And when the others are staring and blushing at their young leader in full fighto! mode. Yes, Riku fans (and Star- and evil-daddy-haters), feast your eyes on this…
In this week’s opening monologue, Riku remembers(?) being born(!) and the ‘cold’ and ‘warmth’ of the air and hands that met him on the ‘outside’. The main episode then picks up where the previous one left off, with Nino’s declaration of protest against their imminent booting-out of the bridge village. Prompted by his lover’s determination to stay here with all of them, Riku goes into Power-Up! mode and vows to take on his evil daddy and beat him at his own game, with Riku secretly putting in another bid for the land development rights as the head of his own company. Soon, President Riku is busy captivating his under-managers at a board meeting where he dramatically unveils his secret bid to the impressed/ awed/ love-struck underlings, not least of all his old secretary/ surrogate-daddy-wannabe Takai. However, it turns out that the Evil One’s been secretly watching and is not as impressed with his son’s plans to overthrow him and plots to crush him even further.
Meanwhile on the riverbank, Nino and co. find ways to amuse themselves and deflect attention from the evil daddy’s hard-hatted minions who are preparing to start work on the land. Such self-amusement and attention-deflection activities include: Sister dressing up in a bear costume, complete with honey-pot/ machine-gun holder; Whitey donning his own shiny new designer suit as he goes about tricking the hard-hatters into finishing up early and going home; and Nino drawing pictures of her absent lover in the dirt with a big stick, while they all wait for Riku’s triumphant return home. The triumphant return home, however, is not quite as triumphant as Riku imagined, resulting in one of the more suspicious hard-hatters, who resembles Riku’s imaginary twin, returning only to be force-fed (i.e. gagged) by fish caught by Nino, serenaded (i.e. deafened) by Star, and then given some physio-therapy/ stress-relief (i.e. attacked) by Mega-Stella.
Soon enough, the real Riku turns up with Takai, only to have his thunder stolen when Takai is hugged and greeted warmly by the others. The love-in is short lived, however, as Riku finds out that his contractors have suddenly pulled out of the deal due to their fear of the Evil One, and then Riku’s attempt to (eventually) call his evil daddy ends in failure, as it turns out that the old man gave his son the wrong number in the first place, or switched it later. Either way, it’s the talking clock that answers Riku, whose quaking knees finally give way and the others look over his collapsed frame in horror.
Wow. I still can’t get over the fact that Riku remembers being born. That and the soaring orchestral background music, which was less percussive/ tingly than in previous epi openings (aside from the more up-tempo numbers to go with the more light-hearted openers) – think less bass and horns, and more strings. As the violins reach their crescendo, we see the image of a rocket launching and reaching for the stars, swiftly followed by the image of Riku floating beyond the Earth’s atmosphere reaching for something himself, only to have his outstretched hand caught by Nino’s hand and benign gaze as the camera zooms out to reveal her floating above him.
The psychoanalysts among you will clearly have a field day with this one.
However, firstly in a more literary/ tradition-of-the-Bildungsroman sense, the hitherto pampered Riku is like a baby, learning about the simultaneous ‘cold’ and ‘warmth’ that exists in the human world as he grows and matures as a character through his own experiences. The image of ickle Riku in his mother’s arms and then in his cradle with the miniature stars and rockets spinning from the mobile above him, and then the very different image of his father taking him out and showing him ‘the extent of the sky and the vast expanse of the world’ thus complement and contrast with each other significantly. And so on the one hand, the images depict the journey of self-discovery and rite-of-passage that Riku began by abandoning his father’s example and, instead, adopting a bridge and an alien as his home and lover.
On the other hand (and hence the psychoanalysis reference), the leaving behind of the mother to follow in the footsteps of the father who is feared/ hated as much as his approval is sought, is all very Oedipal to say the least. In this sense, Nino is not so much a hot mamma as an actual mamma figure for Riku, one whose love is as unfaltering as is her desire to (force) feed him (fish). Plus the fact that there has been zero action between the two, aside from the perfunctory peck in epi 9, which was long-overdue but then only to ‘prove’ to Takai that the two were lovers.
One-peck-wonders and unqualified psychobabble aside, this episode was rather… uneventful? I don’t know about you, but I was definitely expecting the showdown between the evil daddy and his renegade son. Especially as it was strongly suggested that the Evil One’s car was directly coming towards the bridge village at the end of the previous epi. But of course that was probably silly of me and I should’ve known that seeing as there’s only a couple of epis left (and the fact that the manga’s apparently still going on) that they’d string things out ’til the bitter end.
On the plus side, there were some pretty awesome moments nonetheless: Riku’s talk-to-the-hand to Star and his Power-Up! stance towards the threat of the Evil One; Nino’s rabu-rabu-filled eyes for Riku following the latter’s manly I’m-the-real-bad-ass-who’s-gona-save-you-all Power-Up!; Star’s horrified expression at Nino’s said rabu-rabu-eyes at Riku’s said Power-Up!; Sister and Whitey’s choice of anti-attention-seeking attire; Nino’s dawwwring of Riku; and Takai asking Riku to call him ‘daddy’ and then trying to ‘transfer’ the hug that Nino mistakenly gave Takai onto a horrified Riku. Oh well Riku, at least be grateful for such loyalty in the face of the dark powers of the Evil One, you need all the friends you can now get.
So, have I missed anything out?
Probably. I guess I’m mainly wondering if I’m alone in finding this epi too uneventful for my liking? Unless I’m wrong in my thinking and you guys think that it worked in building up the tension and anticipation for the ultimate showdown? In which case maybe it would have worked better if we’d found out more of the Evil One’s new dastardly plot (like wth is it) to crush Junior. Guess we’ll find out next week.
At least, with only two epis to go, I bloody hope so.