Angel Heart – episode 17

July 12, 2006 on 11:11 pm | In Angel Heart | Comments Off on Angel Heart – episode 17

“Encounter in a Dream”

What could this be? An episode set in a dream that reveals long illusive details of the relationship between Kaori and … Makimura?

I’m there! I just wish they had allocated more of the budget to this episode, which deals quite explicitly with these characters. I finally get Ikura Kazue with a major speaking role and, her updated character design aside, she doesn’t look like Kaori.

On top of that we get several things that don’t gel with City Hunter continuity, but that’s par for the course at this point.

Xiang Ying hasn’t been getting much sleep due to a recurring dream she’s been having wherein she is a child and she can’t find Ryo.
The course of the story takes Xiang Ying to her check up with the doctor, which leads to the revelation that Kaori worked there when she was in nurse school. Growing tired of waiting for Ryo, Xiang Ying falls into a deep sleep and begins to dream what turns out to be one of Kaori’s memories … of her first encounters with Ryo.

As soon as Kaori said “aniki”, my first thought was “could it be …?” and then my notes say it all:


Admittedly, given that the dream is about 12 years ago, he looks something like “Makimura Junior”, which is just the first of my many misgivings about this history of the City Hunter refugees.

It goes without saying that Ryo’s first encounter with Kaori was in “Lady Vanish!”, the fourth episode of City Hunter. Kaori knew who he was without him knowing her in that episode, so it is possible that she could remember what he looked like in addition to knowing that he had formed the City Hunter team with Makimura. Ryo is in no fit state of mind, at least in this situation, to catch a glimpse of Nurse Kaori in a situation that occurs three years before the City Hunter timeline.

So, while key parts of the continuity have changed, it’s only natural to take these characters as largely the same as their previous incarnations, with the same motivations. That is why I can appreciate the relationship of Makimura and Kaori as something barely glanced at in the past: in City Hunter we only got to know Makimura through characters talking about him after he died.
Seeing Makimura for an extended period of time – and still voiced by Tanaka Hideyuki, no less! – is a huge treat, particularly considering that this whole series is based on the death of half of one of anime’s most beloved power couples (that is, of course, a great example of anti-fan service).

Through Makimura, we can come to understand Kaori’s selflessness even more than we already did, with her taking up a career in nursing to better prepare herself for cleaning up Makimura after tough jobs. One must remember that Makimura was once a detective, and that his partner was Saeko (part of the rich tapestry of the City Hunter mythos that was developed far further in the manga than in the space available in the anime).

The dream is not just for the benefit of the audience, of course: Xiang Ying takes the memories leaked to her by her heart to better understand the people around her. Xiang Ying did not even know about Makimura until she had this dream, so she can see where Kaori’s attitude came from, as well as the fact that Kaori had some tragedy to deal with herself.

The largest problem is seeing the character of the Ryo who had been left for dead. Xiang Ying likens his character to her own when she first came to Kabuki-cho: singularly untrusting, operating on violent impulse. I don’t really like this because I’m still considering Ryo’s past in the Americas. Think of all of those blonde people he met and faced off with from his past: he was friends with them! They had mokkori times together!
So from here, to accomodate the Xiang Ying character, we have to have another means of connecting her with Ryo. Retconning his past so that he was once like her, as opposed to having always been a crack shot mokkori otoko (best name for a J-Drama ever), is one of the necessary casualties of the Angel Heart franchise and the fact that it

cue eerie music

never really happened in the context of City Hunter. That does not stop the fact that the fatalism portrayed by Ryo, the sheer joy with which he welcomed his impending death, was really quite disturbing.

This is an unconcluded story, so I hope that it finishes itself with considerable aplomb and an engineering of character situations that lend themselves to fitting inline with my world view. For all of the nits that I picked, I really liked this episode because Angel Heart consistently gives me things that I’ve never seen before in these characters that I like so much: it makes them better and makes the source material that much easier to love.

That said, I really do wish the character modelling was better. Ryo looks damned old.

Fun fact: One of Ryo’s fake identities was “Nippon Taro”, which essentially translates to “Japan Boy”.

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