And thus we start what looks like will be the last arc. With four episodes to go, can Rail Wars! coast to a proper stop and leave its viewers satisfied, or will be a trainwreck of lost potential?
The episode starts with Naoto and Aoi training, and naturally it devolves into Naoto twisting his ankle and falling into Aoi. Apparently he wanted to be taught some self-defense moves, though Aoi states he needs to have some balls in order to properly utilize them.
Back in the K4 office, Naoto and Aoi share small talk, with Aoi refuting Naoto’s statement in that she only knows how to break things as she cleans her service semi-auto, though she states her father beat the concept of maintenance as part of the basics. Haruka spies Naoto reading on a news article of a foreign royal visiting, while Aoi isn’t too happy at the usual concept of princes and maidens who live happily ever after. She also states that if someone dressed like a prince held her, she’d die of embarrassment, only for Naoto to remark that anyone trying to seduce her would be in for a lot of pain.
Naoto and K4 are seemingly escorting said prince (Prince Bernina), who happens to also be a rail-otaku (good God save Aoi’s soul…and mine). Apparently the prince was there to go to a Sister City ceremony in Sapporo, and K4 is to guide and assist him. Going on a first name basis, Naoto and the prince, and it seems Haruka knew the prince from being classmates when she lived in England.
With the train leaving, Aoi had spotted someone suspicious and was trailing him. Chasing him down when he flees, Naoto had no choice but to duck back into the train as they set off. Calling Aoi one last time, she doesn’t answer and he is forced to lie to Shou and Haruka about it. Setting up a decoy plan, Naoto was to stay with the prince while Koumi acted as the decoy with Shou as back up.
That goes to crap with the Prince missing, but Naoto finds him messing around in the control cabin. Running off again, he meets Mari (who conveniently is always stationed where Naoto is working), who is now getting the prince to come out of a crawl space. Chasing him up and down the lounge car, he finally gets him settled down. The prince is envious of the crew of K4, who get to ride the trains he so much admires, and of Naoto, who is aiming to be a train driver. But as the 5th in line to the throne, he sees that as highly impossible.
Asking if he could shower, the prince tells Naoto to not look, even though he states that why would he want to peep on another guy showering.
While Bernina is showering, he sees news that the highly impossible situation of the king and members of the royal family being in some misfortune just suddenly happened. Noticing the prince’s clothes on the chair nearby, he imagines he’ll end up seeing a naked Haruka. Only for the prince’s voice call out to him. Hearing a thud, he barges in and recovers the collapsed royal, whom he realizes is a princess.
She had fallen ill after noticing the news on her phone, and is alright. Going to the dining car, they enjoy some coffee even though it wasn’t open, only for a dark-skinned stranger to arrive. Getting up, Shou and the interloper fight and the lights seemingly dim. Hiding Bernina, another thug tazes Naoto before Aoi appears, getting the thug off him.
This episode wasn’t at all done in by the supposed DDoS against the usual torrent and streaming sites. RAW obtained for screenshots were taken and I had an idea of the plot before the fansubbers either proved me right or wrong (mostly right). Anyways, on another VIP protection duty, it seems the interactions between Aoi and Haruka with Naoto are levelling off again after the topsy turvy mountain training arc.
Naoto finds a new friend in the prince(ss), Bernina, a fellow train-otaku. We see much more of Naoto’s ability to lead when pushed into pressure, which I imagine is a good quality in people who would eventually entrusted with the lives of not only his/her crew, but the passengers travelling on a train being driven by the individual and others not on it.
Shou is given a bit of an exposure as a person, being able to dish out punishment and take it, I imagine the use of a black man as the ‘tough’ thug may be prevalent in Japan, but who knows. The only other ‘black’ men I’ve seen really in such situations was in Legend of the Galactic Heroes. Because Louis Mashengo wades through PKC thugs, Terran Cultists, and Imperial soldiers with ease. I dunno, it’s an interesting observation.
With Aoi missing for most of the episode, it makes me wonder how she manages to get on the train, no doubt there was a parallel line in which the would be assassins had hopped on and she snuck on to trail them.
Anyways, next arc would be the usual K4 goodness, spliced in I guess by another orbiting love interest (this time of a higher social status than Nao).
I do want to take note at the shoddy animation. I’ve long been ignoring it but there are some shots that were seemingly so rushed and so badly done that it was jarring to say the least.