SPEC ~ First Blood – Episode 8

OMOMOMO. This episode is my favorite so far, and THAT’s saying a lot. Tears, laughters, tensed nerves: prepare yourself for a freaking good emotion ride. 

Song of the Post:

EXILE –「Choo Choo Train」(The song played at the hospital)

Episode 7: 魑魅魍魎 (Demonic spirits of mountains and rivers)

This time it’s Sebumi who discovers what’s behind the door: a fat little boy practicing his homerun swing. Sebumi skeptically asks if he’s the Hand of God and fatty answers with a deep, low voice that the Healer isn’t here and that if he wants to meet him, he’ll have to agree to their conditions. Which implies finding Tsuda and handing him to them. The Voice explains that lots of SPECs have been disappearing, in various attempts to conceal the truth of their existence.

Sebumi is ready to do anything but asks for a proof. The Voice tells him to go visit the room n°7 on the third floor of a Memorial Hospital at 7pm, and he’ll understand. Then, the little boy regains his consciousness and wonders why he’s there.We’re back with Toma as she swiftly levels her gun at Ninomae but he’s faster and snaps his fingers. She realizes that she’s at a building rooftop, and a quick look below gives her vertigo. Ninomae is also there, having changed clothes, and warns her not to involve his mother. Toma’ll have none of it and orders him to surrender.

She’s doesn’t really has the upper hand though, so she resorts to her trump card: she has put C-4 in her cast and swears that she won’t let him escape this time. She asks what are his objectives and wonders if he’s being threatened, with his mother being an hostage.She’s ready to put her life on the line to protect her, and gently urges him to stop killing people. Ninomae maybe wavers for a split second but he looks at her and scoffs that she’s the one who killed his whole family, so how dare a bomber like her preach him like that?

Snaping his fingers, he says: “Die” and Toma plunges over the edge, eyes widening. She’s just about to crash when a tofu square symbolically splats on the ground in her Grandma’s kitchen. Eww and NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!Toma wakes up screaming, and looks bewildered to recognize her bedroom. Allow me to die laughing at her oh-so-Japanese-fan-like display of love for the French physicist Léon Foucault. Her grandma and Chii enter, wondering if she’s okay. Chii tells her that she was found lying prone, and thinks that she maybe lacks sleep. I’d say that she was close to have an eternal sleep, darling.

Miyabi-chan and her  new beau, Inomata, visit Chief Nonomura to have his (and his wife’s) blessing. Pfft that’s totally the face of a generous heart. But on her way to go, she surreptitiously makes their secret trademark couple sign, and Silly Nonomura in Love is back. Though he wonders later what game she’s playing.Before leaving Toma’s house, Chii pays his respects to her dead parents (her father was apparently a scientist) and there’s also a little boy in the picture. Is he the same one as in Mirei’s drawing? Grandma muses that it’ll soon be the anniversary of their death.

It’s 7pm, and Sebumi scours the Memorial Hospital to find the room The Voice spoke about. And here he appears before him, using the bodies of two nurses. He points a room, and a group of idols-like boys enters it, accompanied by a music coming out from their Cd player. Sebumi gibes at that Exile imposture, but The Voice reveals that the leader of the group is Naoto, from Exile.They all surround the bed of a sick little boy, and perform the Choo Choo Train dance. Wait, there’s more! They prepare and KAAA…MEEEHH…AAA…MEHH….AAAAA!!!!!!!!!!! Bwahahaha, I’m dying. I can’t trust my eyes. Count on this series to surprise you in a dark, suspenseful moment, and takes goofy, quirky moments off its hat. I ♥ you, Show.The kid opens his eyes and readily takes off his mask. Sebumi is visibly shoked and says that his healer was a woman. He wonders if there are others, but The Voice says that she was just a messenger doll and that he was saved by these five boys. Naoto comes to give him the Exile Catchy Best album. And this, my friends, is the Best. Product. Placement. Evaaaaah!Once again, The Voice orders him to bring Tsuda. The reality of it all finally sinking in, Sebumi angrily asks if he’s asking him to betray the Police but The Voice counters: it’s rather Tsuda’s presence that is illegal. He predicts that in the future, he’ll be arrested by the police and punished for his crimes. Sebumi will only rectify this injustice.

The kid’s mother enters, and tears of joy and surprise flow when the boy jumps at her. The Voice hands Sebumi a key to a coin locker, containing more materials on Tsuda. Sebumi violently grabs the nurse’s hands, thus breaking the connexion with The Voice. But he does go to the coin locker and retrieves an USB key and pictures of Tsuda.Speaking of whom, here he is! Apparently, Tsuda was saved by his bullet proof vest, but is told to be careful by his doctor, who prods him to change his face and voice, since he’s clearly being targeted. Tsuda doesn’t want, arguing that this face is quite popular. You cheeky ojisan.

He’s ready to go but the doctor thanks him for the Michael Jackson concert tickets. Wuuut? Tsuda shushes him, because it’d make quite an international big fuss if someone knew! He leaves, moonwalking. Aoow!Sebumi’s visit to Shimura, to deliver his usual Gindako meal, prompts a flashback to a SIT training. Sebumi supervised his men while they were running up and down a huuuuge outdoor stairwell. Shimura couldn’t keep up, and painfully crawled up each stair while Sebumi called him out, exhorting him with his chain of “Gogogogogo”.

When Mirei arrives, Sebumi is gone but she touches the bag and sees her brother crying of frustration in the flashback.Sebumi appears holding a Gindako bag, telling him not to cry because he’s a part of the SIT. Shimura apologizes for being a disappointment, but Sebumi comforts him saying that everyone is one at first. He advises him to believe in himself and Shimura agrees, sobbing.

Sebumi has bought his favorite menu, and all the rest of their team appear to tease Shimura and enjoy the meal. God, they’re all looking like a big playful family, Sebumi being the big bro, and it’s so good to see him smiling like that, trouble-free. We never got to see this smile before, which makes it all the more precious and heartbreaking.We jump to the accident scene, with Shimura shooting at Sebumi and the bullets flying back at him. Panting, Mirei realizes: “So, that was true.” Tears filling her eyes, she thinks of Sebumi, whom she accused so many times before and who’s still trying to save his brother the way he can.Toma is in her bed, in the arms of…..a「抱き枕」- Dakimakura (Life-sized pillow)!? She cracks me up. She thinks back to some moments related to Ninomae when her phone rings. It’s Chief Nonomura, wondering if she’ll rest all day, and she says yes, faking having her period when he points out that she doesn’t have any leave day left. Ha, you called for it.

He asks her if she knows where Sebumi, since he tidied up his things. Read: he left a「辞表」- Jihyou (Resignation Letter). Sebumi!He’s busy trailing a man found in Tsuda’s files, Watanabe Mayuto, and confronts him. Sebumi wants to know where’s Tsuda but Watanabe fakes not knowing that name until Sebumi lets slip that Tsuda wants him dead.

Watanabe panics, totally falling for it, but won’t say a thing even after being punched. Sebumi loses it: he presses his gun on Watababe’s back and orders him to quickly spill the beans. Uh oh, did you definitely throw away your integrity?Feeling that he’s mighty serious, Watanabe is ready to talk. There’s a super secret special unit within the Public Welfare, Unit Zero, commanded by Tsuda. Watanabe reveals that Unit Zero is a counter-measure for the subcode, but when Sebumi tries to press further, he’s warned not to, for this organization is not one to be messed with.

Too bad Sebumi isn’t keen on listening to advises and asks once again where Tsuda is. Watanabe doesn’t know and prepares himself to be beaten to a pulp.In his secret base, Tsuda is being told by his men that Watanabe met Mishou’s Sebumi and he laconically says: “Dispose of them.” Symbolically marking their death, a minion writes both Sebumi’s and Watanabe’s names on「達磨」- Darumas (Good Luck Dolls), which strangely enough have all their eyes painted.

Tsuda mentions that the Mishou unit doesn’t need to exist (a bigger Daruma symbolizing his words), but they’ll let them live for now. I’m sorry to be forced to hate you again, Creepy Cap Man.Chief Baba and his investigators inspect the place where Sebumi met Watanabe, who’s found dead, in such a horrible state that both Wimp in Chief and Wimp#2 Inomata can’t bear to watch the body.

They identify him and flick through the notebook left next his body, finding several mentions of Sebumi’s name, enough to make them think that Watanabe had problems with him. The next thing we know, Sebumi becomes the principal suspect. DAMN!Toma calls Sebumi just when he’s reading the news about Watanabe’s death (pffft, he saved her number as「餃子女」- Gyoza Onna (Gyoza Girl)), and she warns him that he’s a suspect. She believes he didn’t do anything but knows that some are trying to disguise the truth to make him fall. He’s prepared and repeats the SIT mantra (“We’ll throw away our lives”), prompting Toma’s anger. He better not throw away his life, because he’s not a SIT member anymore but a part of the Mishou team!She tells him how Chief Nonomura and her are worried, confronting him about his lone wolf act. Calming down a bit, she reveals that it’s the first time for her that she has such a relationship with someone, as a colleague. They both forged a bond which became important to her, and she can’t so easily forget all those times he saved her life. She almost sounds imploring as she begs him not to go alone, reminding him that he has her and Chief Nonomura to rely on.

Such a monologue is so poignant and sincere, coming from someone most famous for being Zany Queen, so it’s doubly hilarious when she realizes that Sebumi….cut her off! Her phone rings (he appears as「筋肉バカ」- Kinniku Baka (Muscled Idiot)! Did I mention that I love them?), and they say in unison: “Don’t hang up! Hey, I haven’t!”

Sebumi: You, you have a bad personality, you’re ugly and always smell of garlic.

Toma: Whaddya sayin’, bastard?

Sebumi: That aside, I’m glad I met you. At least, in rare moments, I thought that.

*tear* How could this show can balance so damn well comedic and moving moments? Sebumi adds that she has to call him if anything happens and he’ll rush immediately. Did you notice the Biblic painting above? Symbolism~

After hanging up, Toma goes to Ninomae’s house, now empty. She smiles at his foolish attempt to conceal evidences and puts a glove, ready to play it CSI style. She only founds a toothbrush and goes next visit his teacher to hear that he hasn’t given any sign of life for days. The teacher hands her a picture of a group of students, with only a tiny hidden half of his face on it. Toma is not surprised to hear that he isn’t really sociable, and secretly envies his Stop-Time cheating skill. Aren’t we all?

She asks about his mother, learning that she’s unmarried and was formerly a nurse, but that’s only some measly tips. Frustrated not to have even one hint about his current location, she leaves in a huff.We ironically switch to Ninomae, moving in with his mom. She seems tired of it all, even though he apologizes and promises he’ll protect her, taking out  some stacks of bills out of his bag. A man enters the room and touches her temples, making her collapse, but that doesn’t alarm Ninomae, who thanks him for rewriting her memories. Oh, so he doesn’t kill every SPEC around…Throwing money at him, Ninomae leaves for “work”.Speaking about work, Toma literally climbs to the Mishou office, but Chief Nonomura tells her all of their computers and files have been confiscated. Sweeping like a pro, he lightly says that he’s been fired too.

Toma wonders if he’s going to disappear and calls him out on it when he jokingly eludes her question. Being serious, he says that civil servants have to keep quiet. But, hey~ He isn’t a civil servant anymore!Religiously removing Miyabi’s picture covering a picture of an other woman (we don’t see her face, maybe Shibata), he takes off a micro SD card and says that years ago, he worked in an other department with a female detective, Shibata Jun (wink to the original Keizoku series). This SD card contains the secret informations she gave him, but too bad there’s no computer! Now, guess what’s inside Toma’s big suitcase?

They find an article and Chief Nonomura explains that Mishou is just a decoy to cover the special Unit Zero, lovely codenamed Aggressor. A secret police inside the secret police.In a way, the Mishou Team stays active as Sebumi looks at the「国会」-  Kokkai (Diet of Japan), hiding Unit Zero. Inside, enjoying his food is Tsuda, glad to be alive.

A car stops in front of Sebumi, and a woman possessed by The Voice orders him to get in. He complies and says that Tsuda is inside the Diet, protected by its tight security. The Voice isn’t worried though, telling him that counter-measures have been prepared, and Sebumi practically jumps out the window when he hears Ninomae confirming that point.As Ninomae introduces himself, he adds: “I am the criminal Toma-san is after.” Observing Sebumi, he says that he’s already seen him quite a few times, but today he’s here to bring him safely to Tsuda.

It wouldn’t be our Sebumi if he didn’t openly doubt such powers, so Ninomae uses Shimura as a bait, wondering if Sebumi would let him die. And this is precisely why weaknesses must be kept secret. It’s like Shimura has been tossed back and forth by baddies since Episode 1, while the poor man never got to have more than 10 minutes of screen time.Looking quite like a fly caught in a spider’s web, Sebumi asks if they’re really going to save Shimura though it sounds more like he’s trying to convince himself that he’s doing the right thing. Teasing him, Ninomae points out that Tsuda is the real murderer, ready to kill anyone in order to hide SPECs. As if afraid to hear the answer, Sebumi asks if Tsuda will be killed after his capture but no answer. Sebumi doesn’t mind: what matters now is to save Shimura. Even if it means selling your soul?Still shocked after the revelations, Toma can’t believe such an illegal organization can exist, but Chief Nonomura defends the theory: if a SPEC were to commit a crime (and we have enough materials to support this hypothesis) the law as it is couldn’t properly be applied. And then, a new form of racism would appear, maybe leading to a future civil war. For him, this Pandora’s box was never meant to be open, but times are changing. If humans really have to evolve, then he won’t forgive those trying to hide the truth.

Being coy, he says he’s just an old man, without the energy to forcefully open the Pandora’s box. Looking straight in Toma’s eyes, he tells her he was the one who requested to have her and Sebumi in the Mishou unit.Sebumi analyzes the security system but Ninomae laughs at him: why bother when you can freeze everything? Snapping his fingers, he touches Sebumi to include him in his time space and carry on their mission.

Being now on the other side, Sebumi is fascinated by this power and follows Ninomae who casually walks, not above pulling little pranks on politicians and security guards. As he says, in front of him there are all mannequins. The contrast between his childish ways and his violent methods seems to disturb Sebumi even more.Taking the lead, he finds the Unit Zero’s HQ and opens the door. Still inside, Tsuda is frozen as well as his guards. Ninomae explains that the Darumas whose names are crossed represent the people killed by this secret unit. Among them, familiar names: Katsura, Hisako, Dr. Unno….Or Reisen. Noooo!

Ninomae tells Sebumi that it’s a game for Unit Zero, and that human lives worth less than Darumas. Casting an evil look at Tsuda, he quickly puts on a smile ans asks Sebumi to clean after him. Before Sebumi can understand the meaning, Ninomae snaps his fingers and everyone pull out their gun and shoot. Fiou, for once I’m happy to be with Ninomae. He’s stopped time fast enough so that no bullet has made a victim. Yet.Calling out Sebumi, he lightly jokes that the guards will soon die by their own hands as he turns the direction of their bullets. This evokes an other picture in Sebumi’s mind, and he finally understands what happened to Shimura. Ninomae doesn’t deny, even saying that Sebumi survived that way. Sebumi’s shock turns to a blazing anger and he swiftly turns his gun to aim at Ninomae.

Undaunted, Ninomae comes closer, saying that Shimura was being manipulated and that he had no other choice. When Sebumi asks who pulled the threads, Ninomae confidently smiles and replies: “Those on the opposing side”. How convenient. In his usual fashion, Sebumi coldly yells that he didn’t had to shoot but Ninomae has had enough and drops his act, shouting as well: “Even me!”Coming so close as to touch Sebumi’s gun, he says: “Even I don’t like doing this”. Ah. I can finally connect to him. Damn, it looks as if he’s begging Sebumi to shoot. Maybe sensing his emotional struggle, Sebumi lowers his gun, but Ninomae pushes him on the side to be the one on the receiving end of the frozen bullet. Err, what are you doing now?

If I stay here and snap my fingers, everything will be easier.

A&$%£#gh!!

During long seconds, none of them moves a muscle, but finally Sebumi knocks the bullet. “As if I’d let you to”. Sebu-chan!

Sadly smiling to himself, Ninomae slaps on his usual fake grin when looking at Sebumi and offers to go, now that they have Tsuda.Still time-frozen, Tsuda is bound and gagged (this series sure loves bondage) and put in the backseat of the car. It’s only after the door has been carefully closed that Ninomae sets him in motion again, and the car drives off. Tsuda looks back to Sebumi, makings signs as if trying to send a message but he’s out of view at the next turn.Puzzled at first, Sebumi soon falls prey to his guilt, shaking in shame and anger at himself and at Ninomae, who finds it funny to state that they’re now partners in crime. Taking out his phone, he calls to give the healer the OK, and confirms to Sebumi that he can finally go to see Shimura. It’s like Sebumi can’t hear what he says, still reeling from all of his feelings, but when Ninomae disappears, he wakes out of it.

Anxiously listening to the secret police’s radio, Chief Nonomura and Toma hear about Sebumi and Ninomae’s partnership. Toma understands right away that a deal must have been made, and dashes to the hospital.Sebumi enters the hall, looking mighty pitiful and dejected, and sees Naoto and his boys leaving the place, Naoto assuring him that it’s done. A split-second later, he’s running like mad, full of hope, to Shimura’s room. Meeting Mirei halfway, he tells her the good news and they’re rushing together when a voice calls out: “Sempai! Mirei!”OMG! I don’t know if I’m more happy for Sebumi or for Mirei, but it’s soooo good to see this vegetable-man move again! Even Sebumi can’t bring himself to believe it. When Toma appears, he turns to her and eagerly asks: “What should I do?” Ohmygod! He isn’t surprised to see her there, or to let her see his vulnerable side. In a way we have 2 pairs of brothers and sisters.Why not try smiling for once, offers Toma. Tears filling his eyes, Sebumi drops his guard and lets a tiny smile bloom. He tells to Shimura to stop saluting, and the latter promises he’ll never put shame on the SIT again. Saluting again, Shimura recites the motto: I’ll throw away my life. Weeeeell, not the brightest thing you’re saying here, boy. Why, hello timing!Voice trembling and tears streaming his face, Sebumi keeps the chief’s attitude and orders him not to. He laughs (!!) when Shimura says he’ll live his life to the fullest and Mirei runs to hug the smiling brother she longed to see. But suddenly, two men appears, trumpet in hand like angels of death. As they blow their vuvuzelas, Shimura’s body fades and disappears.They hear a thud and screams, prompting Toma and Sebumi to sprint. Mirei tries to dismiss this dark feeling creeping, but as our Mishou duo reaches the garden, she can’t fool herself anymore. Though she doesn’t see him, she knows her brother is dead.Standing above the body, Sebumi can’t stand the sight and falls on his knees. He betrayed the police and his ow moral code to save this guy only to see him alive for two seconds. Can’t you spare this man just 5 minutes?In what looks like a higher-up meeting, Ninomae protests that what happened wasn’t what was promised. Hm, is that regret I smell? A woman says in French that promises are nothing but when he talks back, the boss (or is he?) shushes him, saying that children shouldn’t try to change what adults have decided. Given Ninomae’s reaction, it’s not the first time he’s been rebuffed this way, and he’s kind of fed up.

In a hypnotic sequence reflecting Sebumi’s whirlwing of emotions, we’re sucked into his downward spiral along Toma (who touches her neck at the same spot where Ninomae has a star-shaped mark). foreboding the worst.Impressions:

Gold. Up until now, SPEC never disappointed me, but this time it has outdone itself. What a great, great episode. From Toma to Sebumi, including Chief Nonomura, Chii or Ninomae, we’re given so many layers and complexity! You’re constantly wondering if you really know their characters, with each scene able to pull out a complete 180 from what you believed.

It won’t come as a surprise, but once again Kase Ryo totally blew me away. The way he portrays Sebumi is just perfect, and I can only shudder at the thought of someone else playing him with less commitment to the role (say, an idol? *shivers*). I wouldn’t have thought that at first, since Sebumi looked so stoic and  uptight, but 7 episodes later I’ve discovered so many aspects of his personality that I’m emotionally involved and wholeheartedly root for him.This episode also unveils a bit of the secrets surrounding those mysterious organizations, though we have yet to know about Ninomae’s side. But I believe this issue will be explored in the next two final episodes. In fact, at this point, I have no idea where we’re heading and that’s pretty much exciting. Will Toma and Sebumi go all out against Ninomae&Co? Will Ninomae decide to go on the good side of the force? What a reversal that would be!

Now that a drama special and a movie are soon hitting the airwaves, I confess I don’t have this dreadful feeling you usually get when your favorite stuff come to an end. My next fix is assured, yay!波のゆくさき for SPEC【辛】

One thought on “SPEC ~ First Blood – Episode 8

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