by-kuma

Episode Recap: #515 “Yojimbo”

The rabbit has arrived! The episode opens with Usagi fighting the evil and scheming Jei in a far off land of Samurai. The next morning, Usagi discovers that he’s not the only one who went up in a duel against Jei – when he ventures to a nearby village, he finds Akemi, who tells him that Jei and his army of Samurai minions, led by Sumo Kuma, have ransacked the village. Thankfully, Akemi was able to protect Kintaro, the holy child, the “golden boy destined to have superhuman abilities.”

Usagi must help deliver Kintaro to the Temple Palace, where he’ll be safe from evil dudes like Sumo Kuma and Jei. Kintaro might be the chosen one, but he’s also a surefire brat with insults for days, so Usagi channels his inner peace and embarks with Kintaro toward safetly. 

Meanwhile, Jei summons super Samurai ninjas to help him wipe out Usagi who poses threat to his plan of domination. And who shows up? The Turtles! Jei corrupts the green team, brainwashing them with a mission to find Usagi and destroy him once and for all.

The Turtles go in search of the rabbit Samurai, and when they find him, he uses his super sick skills to totally show them up – all four of them! But the bratty-yet-lovable pug of a golden child realizes that the Turtles aren’t truly bad, and instead have been brainwashed. Raph, Leo, Donnie and Mikey snap out of their trance and Usagi and Kintaro invite them to stay. A friendship is born.

The team bonds over the bonfire – Usagi explains his past as a Samurai bodyguard, Mikey fires the sass right back at Kintaro, nicknaming him “Pugtaro,” and the Turtles explain that they are from New York City. They must have been transported to a different dimension – but there’s nothing stopping them from using their ninja skills on these anthropomorphic animals instead of the human bad guys they normally go up against. 

The next morning, that’s exactly what they do! When they come stumble across Sumo Kuma – the bad dude leading Jei’s gang – and his army, the Turtles stealthily knock out the soldiers in the rear of the pack, steal their armor, and saddle up their horses so they can infiltrate Sumo Kuma’s troop and learn what they’re up to.

But it doesn’t take long for Sumo Kuma to sniff them out – literally. Even miles away from their home in their own dimension, Raph, Leo, Donnie and Mikey still reek of the sewer stench! The Turtles and Usagi must race away quickly before Sumo Kuma can catch up and cream them. So off go the Turtles and Usagi, into the maze of the Samurai territory and deep, dark forests. Sumo Kuma and his army are right on their tail, but if they’re still the same Turtles we know and love, we’re sure they’ll figure something out.

They’re lucky to have the masterful Usagi by their side, who definitely wins MVP of this episode for his crazy cool samurai skills and insane patience with the nutty, gnarly Kintaro.

LGBT Representation in Anime

Is gay representation in anime good or bad? “Usually it’s great,” said the panelists of “That’s Gay! LGBT Representation in Anime,” a wife and wife team. “However, it can be pretty mixed.”

There is, and has always been, a lot more LGBT content in anime than there is in American media, but this isn’t as progressive as it sounds, explained panelist Judith Fisch. However, a lot of these LGBT anime characters fall into some tiresome tropes. Gay men can be portrayed as feminine and predatory. Gay women are considered to be going through “a phase.” And don’t get started on trans characters, who are often added purely for comedy.

Furthermore, gay representation is subtler than it would be in America. For examples, Japanese viewers of Yuri!!! On Ice perceived “Please be my coach forever,” as a marriage proposal. Meanwhile, American viewers didn’t see this as overtly as its creators intended. Blink and you’ll miss it!

The panel discussed problematic LGBT representations in anime before settling on some progressive modern recommendations. Here are a few to check out:

  • What Did You Eat Yesterday? A slice of life manga about a gay couple’s daily routine with a focus on what they cook and eat. Shiro and Kenji experience daily microaggressions and navigate life in modern Tokyo as gay men.
  • Yuri!!! on Ice. The panelists noted that this show aired in the middle of the night because it was perceived as almost too progressive.
  • Yuri Kuma Arashi. By the creator of Revolutionary Girl Utena, this artistic show plays with the stereotypes of “predatory” and “pure” lesbians—with literal bears and lilies.
  • Sasameki Koto. The straightforward story of a lesbian in high school who is closeted and another who is out. It’s a love story with a happy ending.
  • Wandering Son. A sympathetic story about a trans boy and a trans girl who become friends as they begin to come of age. 

(Screenshot via Yuri!!! On Ice.)

—Lauren, AB Staff Blogger

One Piece ワンピース [Thriller Bark Saga] : Shichibukai Bartholomew “Tyrant” Kuma vs Roronoa “Pirate Hunter” Zoro 

“Just stay back, all of you!! He challenged ME didn’t you hear?! I’ve accepted the challenge I don’t need help. So don’t humiliate me by butting in! When disaster looms, you’ve got to step up or shove off. Making excuses isn’t going to change anything. If I die here…then I wasn’t worth much to begin with!!”

This is my favorite moment in One Piece. When Kuma came to annihilate all witnesses to Gecko Moria’s defeat and challenged Zoro, the hype! Just the fact that they just defeated a Shichibukai and it took all they had and then another one shows up and Zoro stands his ground even though he’s clearly outclassed was like, “wow, what a badass”. But of course, what sealed the deal for me was when Zoro threw down his swords and offered his head, the head of the future “Worlds Greatest Swordsman”, in exchange for Luffy & his crewmates’ lives and then took in all of Luffy’s battle damage. Magnifique. Truly, Oda molded the perfect right hand for the future Pirate King!

♪ : Mozart - Lacrimosa