What was it? The saying goes to ‘be weary of an old man in a profession where men die young’. I can only imagine this applies much to this episode’s focus character, Kino’s teacher, Shishou, and her apprentice/traveling companion. Once again, a quick thought. Next week should return to me writing an episode summary as well.
Where to start with this episode. First off, we are greeted with Kino reminiscing about her past, her time where she was under the tutelage of an old gunslinger she called ‘Shishou’ (Master). Shishou it seems was a particularly stern and taciturn teacher, often greeting Kino’s failures with a very harsh lesson.
Granted, there are a number of training aids out there that can simulate real weaponry, from airsoft-based weapons to Simunitions, but I highly doubt just having percussion caps in their revolvers would be of any protection when fired FROM POINT BLANK.
Anyways, thematically, I love how Shishou’s story is presented. Through black and white and a grainy sepia filter denoting its delivery as a story recounted by Kino to Hermes, most of the time it features the calm and thoughtful Shishou working with her traveling partner to use their prodigious marksmanship and scheming to rob a country blind of its resources.
Able to keep a mask in light of the corrupted police forces unfairly planting illicit drugs on her apprentice/travelling partner, I think the only time she’s been surprised is when she discovers the assassin’s tools in her traveling partner’s case.
I would like to point out a specific part of the episode, during the infiltration scene just before the eyecatch, that by adding the Spanish guitar-like background music help square the distinctively Bonnie and Clyde/Outlaw feeling I had with Shishou and her companion, who isn’t as naïve and amateurish as we have been led to believe just a few minutes earlier.
After the flashy infiltration of the police headquarters, I believe this is where Shishou’s scheming mind comes in. Rather than hide for three days and then bolting when the heat dies down, Shishou suggests the opposite, and converts the country’s old clock tower into their sniper’s hide. Disabling access up to their nest and wounding any who came close, they hold their siege, pitting the witless corrupt police force with their skills with Persuaders and various other weapons.
There were little tidbits I thought was a bit of commentary placed in there. The concept, or even story of, corrupt police planting evidence is common. Take that as one wishes, but to me it is excellent reason to have police body cameras and the resulting budget for the outfitting and storage of em. But from how it was explained, it seems the young man merely wasn’t attentive enough.
That said, it can also be that this was planned all along by the pair, in trying to extort an even higher prices than their wares could produce. Causing general mayhem and whatnot, unsure though if this was fully planned prior to arriving to the clock tower or as they went along. Something else caught my eye. When the siege was well underway, the duo got news of any police movement through the public news broadcasts, and echoed some thoughts brought up in various social media groups that such reporting only makes it so that someone seeking fame through this method would see their exploits have made them (in)famous. It also reduces the tactical flexibility the police had since their very movements were broadcasted for all to see.
What got me was at the end, when Kino and Hermes made their way to the clock tower country and find out that Shishou and her companion had been immortalized into being the heroes of the people. Their valiant and chaos causing siege with the corrupt police and politicians led to a populist change in attitude towards law enforcement and political transparency. Funny enough that the one that explained the history of the country since that time was one of the police officers injured in the three days and three nights Shishou and her companion battled the police.
That and Kino losing her cool when she had thought Shishou had returned, no doubt she has a great amount of respect for the woman, though sprinkled with fear of her capabilities and probably how she had grown up. This to me softens Shishou from her depiction in the first movie, the prequel OVA, who intentionally sent Kino out to handle the deranged woman who had been murdering travelers. It was a sink or swim moment for Kino, and she rose to the occasion, probably hardening herself for her future as a traveler.
Shishou is still, even with this episode, an enigmatic figure, even more so than Shizu. Shizu now has a purpose in life, to care for Ti and to find a place where he can settle down. Photo has found her future and is happy as Sou says. Kino and Hermes will travel the world until they’ve experienced all they can; or they’ll settle down like Shizu; or die in their travels. Shishou is only a figure kept in awe and reverence. As Kino’s master. As the folk heroes straightening a corrupt country. As a cool traveler with insight on how countries work due to experience. Shishou lives on not as a figure with a future, but one in the past. A woman who was the establishment of the future of our main characters.
I can’t think of any better way to portray her.