The Daughter of Twenty Faces Episode 4
Summary: Chiko has just turned 12 and she's made a place for herself amongst the thieves. Not only does she handle cooking, shopping, and laundry, but she's been picking up other skills from her comrades as well, including knife-throwing, self-defense, and different languages. There are some who want her to stick to her female duties, but most of the young thieves think that she might be ready to help out on one of their thieving jobs. And a job has just presented itself - at a black market auction, huge sapphire called "The Lorelai's Tear" will be auctioned-off. Twenty-Faces hopes to steal it and return it to its rightful place in the eye of a public statue. In order to get to the jewel, a thief will have to wriggle through a small hatch. This sounds like the perfect place for the petite Chiko to prove herself to the others.
That night, a disguised Chiko arrives at the hotel where the jewel is being brought to auction. Her comrades cause a blackout while they're in an elevator, so she grabs the briefcase and exits through the top. Though she's cornered in the hotel's hallway, her skills and her wits allow her to trick the men who are after her and she and her hero escape via airship into the night.
Thoughts: Wow, so Chiko finally gets to see some action this time around. I'm pretty pleased with the pacing of this episode. While I can take or leave the more episodic "thievery of the week" aspect as a necessary evil, what I really enjoyed was seeing Chiko prove herself by being smart, resourceful, and able to defend herself physically against all the men chasing her. I consider myself to be a fairly cynical person, but I always find myself rooting for Chiko to overcome whatever she's up against. Sure, there's kind of a cliche "girl overcomes expectations of her sex and excels in a man's world" vibe to the show, but I think it succeeds in that Chiko isn't a bitch about being put down; if anything, she's just more determined to do well and prove everyone wrong about her abilities, which outmatch even some of the other guys in the group.
I'm actually kind of reminded of Master Keaton in that the protagonist is almost unequivocally good and pure-hearted, something which would normally put me off since many characters like that come across as flat and unrealistic. But here it just works for some reason.
So Chiko's aunt ups her creepiness factor this time around as well, having begun poisoning her husband and nearly finishing the job. The inspector she hired to search for Chiko is coming up empty, though in reality he's just leeching money from her in order to eat out all the time. I'm still kind of wondering where this is all going to go and why the aunt is still important, considering that she doesn't seem especially good at anything other than poisoning her family due to her own greed. Possibly the next episode or two will be more telling.
The Daughter of Twenty Faces Episode 3
Summary: Chiko has settled into her life amongst thieves, even though as basically the "intern" she's relegated to the uninteresting work like mending shirts, cooking dinner, and cleaning the hideout. She does the work happily, however, since she's living the life that she really wants to live. Just as news spreads about Twenty-Faces' latest conquest - the theft of some European crown jewels - we find out that Chiko's aunt has hired a private investigator to find her and bring her back "home".
The next job is a bit more complicated. Twenty-Faces has hired a submarine crew to take them down to the ocean floor to investigate the wreckage of a huge airplane. Chiko makes a basketfull of rice balls for the group of thieves to eat while underwater. She offers one to the captain, but he refuses. Skipper goes outside the ship in diving gear and returns with a box full of treasure - bars of pure gold. Soon the crew turns on them and wants the treasure for themselves, but Twenty-Faces and Chiko are able to fool them all into thinking that the rice balls were explosives that had been distributed throughout the submarine, and they're able to negotiate their way out.
Thoughts: I like how the lessons learned in the previous episode - that it's important to read beneath people's outward actions to see what they're really up to - became important here. Just as Skipper was returning to the sub, both Twenty-Faces and Chiko cast sideways glances at each-other as if they pretty much expected the captain to betray them at the last second (which seems to have become a theme of this show so far). It's nice to see a little continuity in this show, although I'm really waiting for Chiko to come into her own. While she makes steps with each episode, I'm about ready to see her do something else than mend shirts, cook, and try to get the grumbly old thief Muto to warm up a little bit.
I was getting a little irritated that it seemed like none of the other female characters that appeared in the opening/ending were being introduced, but it seems that we got a glimpse of one of them briefly this time around - a woman working for Chiko's aunt who seems to have something else on her mind. I'm betting the next episode will be more revealing as to this mysterious person's role. On the one hand I'm a little annoyed that Chiko's aunt is even still playing a recurring role in the series, because I'm more interested in how Chiko's life will unfold being away from that (literally) toxic family and I don't think that the aunt or uncle really have a role to play anymore, but I could be wrong.
I usually refrain from spending a lot of time talking about specific fansub groups because I like to turn the focus away from the dubious legality of what I'm doing instead of advertising the fact that there's anime for free on the internets, but I find it interesting that Live-Evil, the group subbing this show, has done quite a few shows that have female-character focuses. Sisters of Wellber, Shion no Ou, Rose of Versailles, Utena... I could go on. With all the fly-by-night fansub groups popping up and subbing one or two episodes of a series, it's cool to have a group which doesn't necessarily sub the "big" shows. I can think of quite a few groups who I've never heard of before working on Soul Eater, but without groups like this I think there are a lot of smaller, quieter, less flashy shows that wouldn't have a chance and I like that. And with an eye to classic-feeling shows, this seems to fit well into their lineup.
*cough* well anyway, I like how this show has kind of a kids' show feel without being zany and wacky. It's just simple and entertaining with some larger-than-life but still appealing characters.
The Daughter of Twenty Faces Episode 2
Summary: After being rescued from her ill-intentioned aunt, Chiko and her savior, the thief Twenty-Faces, make their escape via airship to the thieving group's mountain hideout. Unfortunately the police are close behind, and they have to sacrifice their hideout and take to the skies once again. Upon landing in an isolated location, an informant named Chen clues them in on a treasure up for grabs - the hand mirror of a former Chinese Empress. Chiko, eager to please and to become like her mentor Twenty-Faces, wants to participate, and she's allowed to be the lookout as Twenty-Faces bags the goods.
Though the original information led them into a trap, Twenty-Faces saw through it and got his prize, though during his escape he was shot in the side. Luckily a kind Chinese woman takes him in and, along with Chiko, nurses him back to health. She's not quite the kindly woman she claims to be, however, and Chiko and Twenty-Faces narrowly escape before the men she called arrive to claim their bounty. Chiko learns a lesson about trusting people and learning to listen for the things that they don't say.
Thoughts: There's something about this show that kind of reminds me of stuff like Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water because of its earlier time period and the sense of adventure in the writing. I think I like the show for it's pure sense of fun, and also the bit of tragedy in Chiko's past that's driving her to become a thief like her hero and rescuer. So far there hasn't been a lot of dwelling in the past, but I can sense just how much Chiko's past is driving her to move forward and learn from what she's experienced.
Other than that, I don't really have a lot of meaty comments to make about this episode. It's adventuresome, fun, standard enjoyable stuff with what's shaping up to be a pretty good ensemble cast. I'm only wondering when it'll transition into Chiko being the "star" and Twenty-Faces being absent/in trouble/whatever happens to him later on.