Please, someone just shoot Natsuko.
The most recent command from the King is a finger breaking game, with fingers worth positive (right hand) or negative (left hand) points that you can give to anyone, even yourself. Those with negative points die. Teruaki sacrifices all the fingers on his left hand and one finger on his right. Now, holding the power of life and death in his broken hand, he demands that Natsuko return his and Nobuaki’s phones, or all the negative points go to her. When she asks what he’d do with the negatives if she consented, he tells her that his dream of being a stylist (and his life in general) is meaningless without his hands. She returns the phones. Surprise! This was only part one of his ploy! He gives a positive point to Nobuaki, a negative point to Aimi, and the rest of the negative points to Natsuko. He never actually said that he would kill himself. And the single point against Aimi means that some points would have to go to her, too. The only source of positive points she has is her own hand and Aimi’s, but she passes, unable to hurt herself. Aimi refuses to save her. After all, her own actions proved she was not going to act in Aimi’s interests. Natsuko tackles her to the ground. Grabbing hold of the rock Teruaki used and holding it high, she slams it down… on Aimi’s hand, breaking all but the thumb. She then puts out a sob story, causing Aimi to pull a Face-Heel Turn and screw everything up for everybody. She gives her points to Natsuko, and Natsuko responds by breaking Aimi’s thumb, rescuing her “friend”.
Afterward, at the hospital, it seems Aimi will get better, but Teruaki’s hand is a goner. Teruaki’s friend Ryou went to get a gift, but everyone else is meeting to discuss the plan to survive this. Even though Nobuaki admits he doesn’t know what the orders are going to be, he knows if they work together, they can survive. Natsuko arrives with Aimi to crash the party. She continues to spout her “everyone for themselves” ideals, trying to confuse everyone. The King sends out an obedience confirmed to everyone, but there’s something else. Teruaki gets a message saying he’s broken the rules. Natsuko admits that before she handed over the phones, she went into Teruaki’s and made it block the King. That is disobedience. Teruaki’s head flops off after a lengthy monologue. That’s when Ryou arrives. He’s got his gift for Teruaki: a hat! Traumatized and in shock, Ryou doesn’t even realize that Teruaki is headless. Nobuaki looks around him. A basket case, a whipped slave, a psycho murderess, and six scared kids. Everything is falling apart.
Wait, let me get something straight. Not only did Natsuko somehow break through the security locks on Teruaki’s phone, but she went into the text app and blocked the King… all while everyone in the class is watching? And in such a quick burst we as the audience didn’t get to see it? Have you ever used a smartphone? It will take you a full five seconds to even select someone on the contact list while the phone is on standby. Five seconds is all anyone would need to go “HEY, SHE’S MESSING WITH THE PHONE!” and stop her. Even less than that for Teruaki to assign all the negative points to her. Then, when she attacks Aimi, enough time passes where Natsuko’s just holding up a rock for anybody to come over and grab her arm. Nothing. Nobody even gets up until after she’s mangled the girl’s hand. And then, Aimi’s sudden turn back to being on Natsuko’s side, followed by being her mindless little puppet? I don’t believe that. I don’t believe it one bit. Somebody starts acting in a way that makes you want to turn on them, they prove you right by not trying to save you, and break your hand to save themselves? Screw them. I’d use the other hand to beat the stuffing out of them. Natsuko admits to the murder of Teruaki, and everyone just stands around and cries? Where was all that self-righteous beatdown juice they were going to uncork on Nobuaki in episode two?
What I’m getting at with all this is that the only reason Natsuko is still alive and has caused as much death as she has is that the team would rather manipulate the game to make her change, rather than taking her out of the equation. No, I don’t normally advocate murder. However, she is guilty of multiple murders and is reveling in the game’s ability to kill her classmates. Since she is murdering through the game, the police can’t do anything. When she’s about to slam her rock down on Aimi, grab the barber’s scissors and stick them in the base of her skull. Done. Nightmare half over. She does nothing but hurt, kill, and confuse, but everyone still wants to be her friends. This is BAD writing. Aimi is just one more example as to how steamrolled the characters get in this show. Maybe if we see the others try to stop her and fail, or have seen spots throughout the show where Aimi foregoes logic to save Natsuko. These flat,flash-in-the-pan characters exist for one purpose: to die so we can see how bad Natusko is. They are meaningless, and I have no reason to care if any of them becomes a bloody stain. I am not threatened by her, I’m merely annoyed that she is allowed to continue her reign of terror because of plot armor.
When we get down to the voice acting and art, it’s a similar story. There isn’t enough here visually to be worthwhile. It doesn’t do anything for me to see Natsuko’s eyes switch into psycho-mode over and over. I’ve seen it too much, it’s played out. After Teruaki’s head comes off, the camera spends a good amount of time where the two parts are exposed. Due to censorship, they covered it up with obvious, black, fuzzy spots. Good direction wouldn’t have even brought us to the point where censorship is needed. Instead, they went for an obvious, linear shot. None of the voice acting was thrilling either. Nobuaki (Cobey Lewin) has two modes to his voice: whiny, and scream-y crybaby. He switches between the two at a moment’s notice, and it is starting to bother me. Everyone else… meh.
Mediocre direction, animation, and voice acting only highlight the fact that the writing on this show has gone from slightly dumb, but promising, to an utter disaster. I give this episode four hats for the headless out of ten.