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Phase 6: The Lunar Flying Squirrels

 

Review by Scott Richardson

May 17, 2006

 

Summary

 

Arriving on the Moon, Tanabe and Hachi head to the lower levels of the city--Tanabe to check into the apartment she's renting for her stay and Hachi to make a delivery to a hotel for Myers. Hachi walks Tanabe to her apartment building which seems to be located in the middle of a slum. Hachi attempts to leave to keep his appointment, but Tanabe--rather afraid of her new environment--forces him to walk her inside. Despite Hachi's protests that it's a perfectly normal apartment building, they run into various cheesy traps--tripwires connected to dishes, caltrops spread around the entryway--just inside the door. Descending from the rafters, a man wearing a cheap-looking ninja outfit compliments them on seeing through their traps and introduces himself as Kogenta of the Mist. Obviously relying on the Moon's weaker gravity, he jumps up to the ductworks and hurls two oversized throwing stars at Hachi and Tanabe. At this point Hachi decides it's probably time to leave, but gets ambushed by a number of other rather pathetic 'ninjas' as they attempt to make their escape. The battle makes it all the way to a construction site, where Hachi--who's starting to get into this whole ninja thing--winds up buried under a bunch of steel girders before they're all kicked out by angry construction workers. With the battle over, it's discovered that the ninjas are all residents of room three in Tanabe's new apartment building. Apparently, they got a little excited when they found out the new tenant was Japanese and even more excited when they saw Hachi's "ninja headband." As they walk back to the apartment building, the ninjas are harassed due to their odd habits and unpaid cleaning bills. Though Kogenta promises to pay next month, he is told he won't get his clothes back until then--much to Kogenta's dismay, as he has a job interview the next day. 

 

Hachi leaves Tanabe in the care of the ninjas and arrives at the hotel late, only to discover that the delivery was a trick by Myers to set him up on a marriage meeting. Back at the apartments, the ninjas relate their story to Tanabe. All of them are unemployed and have used the spare time to get hooked on ninja movies. Thanks to the Moon's gravity being 1/6th of Earth's, they've discovered that they can do all sorts of cool ninja moves. But rather than just being a bunch of lazy good-for-nothings, they had all originally come to the Moon through a businessman who promised them a great job opportunity. Unfortunately, however, the businessman conned out of their money and they lost their jobs as a result. Even worse, the businessman had brought them to the Moon on tourist visas rather than work visas which left them unable to get any real work. Unable to afford tickets back to Earth, the ninja keep themselves fed by taking any odd jobs they can find. Noting that the mood has become somewhat depressing, one ninja suggests they need a name for their new female ninja (Tanabe), and it is revealed that their previous female ninja was Kogenta's wife who has since divorced him. Depression once again overtakes the group, but is interrupted by sirens in the distance. The hotel Hachi was in has caught fire due to a cigarette and a broken smoke detector. The ninjas go to the scene to see what's going on and Kogenta notices his former father-in-law among the crowd. It turns out that the girl Hachi was tricked into meeting is Kogenta's ex-wife. The man is not happy to see Kogenta, whom he regards as useless trash. Tears forming in the corners of his eyes, the father begins to beat Kogenta about the head with Kogenta's foam katana whilst yelling at him for not being able to keep his wife happy and calling him a lowlife. Tanabe intervenes and goes off on another one of her love rants, telling them that as long as they have love everything will work out in the end--regardless of social standing. As Tanabe distracts the father, Kogenta makes a decision and begins to head for the burning hotel. His ninja friends follow (except for one), despite Kogenta telling them he can handle it on his own. And thus, a bunch of pajama-wearing, foam weapon-toting dorks, march into the burning high-rise and history. The ninjas make their way through the burning building using their 'techniques' (which are really just low-gravity jumps) and eventually locate Hachi and the girl, who have fashioned themselves makeshift smoke protection out of garbage cans and calcium peroxide/plant fertilizer mix which produces oxygen. Unfortunately, the path the ninjas used to get in has become blocked, leaving our intrepid heroes with no way out. Back down on the ground, Tanabe and the father argue with firefighters, when suddenly, the top floor windows are broken, revealing Hachi, the girl, and the ninjas--who announce themselves as the Ninja Eight. They jump out of the building in tandem and announce their secret technique as the cosmic flying squirrel--revealing that they've tied a bunch of bed sheets together into a make-shift parachute. A stunned crowd begins to excitedly chant 'ninja' as they float semi-safely back to the ground. Unfortunately, even with the Moon's lower gravity, their landing isn't all that soft, and Hachi breaks his leg and winds up in a hospital for the duration of their stay on the Moon. 

 

Commentary

 

Hoo, boy--this is a tough episode to review. The episode starts out by throwing you a curve ball by way of zany slapstick comedy, but then brings in a sympathetic backstory before capping off the episode with an unnecessarily over-the-top resolution. While it's nice that the writers went out of their way to justify the ninjas as stir-crazy, penniless dweebs, it really just winds up making me feel sorry and embarrassed for these poor dorks who jump out of a building while imitating Naruto Uzumaki. It's not really bad (the chase scene in the first half is pretty hilarious), but when half the episode's characters make me cringe I can't exactly put it among my favorite episodes. In the end, the whole episode just feels somewhat out-of-place. 

 

Overall Rating

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2.5 out of 5 stars
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