The struggle to break into Abashiri and free Noppera-bo comes to a start.
They actually come up with a pretty clever plan, using the fact that Ainu is around and have different beliefs and customs than the Japanese to their advantage. Because there can’t really be much of a justification for the guards to kick any Ainu fishermen out, as that would be directly interfering with Ainu customs, they can work without arousing much suspicion. That they have bribed the guards with their catch makes it more believable that they are fishermen trying to get the best hunt. After all, to continue bribing the guards, they really do have to fish and catch salmon.
Once the prison break begins, everything goes downhill fairly quickly. Inudou was much craftier than everyone expected and put in a fake Noppera-bo in the regular cells. The fake, upon being discovered, instantly alerted everyone to the area and made what was supposed to be a subtle operation now visible to all.
Of course, that isn’t even the worst part. Inkarmat, ever distrustful of Kiroranke and Hijikata, contacted the Seventh Division and informed them of the group’s plans. That means the entire time, they haven’t been traveling covertly, as their actions had already been leaked. The Seventh Division comes to take Noppera-bo, but they don’t do a rush job as they have in their previous encounters. Everyone arrives, and it truly is everyone. Tsurumi has returned from the main offices, this time with a full force, including several battleships. There’s no way that a mere prison force would be able to fight off a battleship and an army division, and having a mass amount of soldiers around only makes it harder for a covert operation to happen.
Hijikata, as it seems, has other plans. He long realized before that the Noppera-bo housed in the main cells was a fake, and thus takes Asirpa away. Asirpa is the key to the gold, and he knows that Noppera-bo will likely remain tight-lipped unless Asirpa is around. This, unfortunately, takes Asirpa away from Sugimoto, and leaves Sugimoto behind to be live bait. Sugimoto is now at the mercy of both the guards and the incoming army.
It’s a critical situation to end the episode on, and one that seems impossible to break out of. Surely our heroes will find a way, but it’s a very narrow one…