And they were ROOMMATES.
The episode starts with a flashback of Fu before she joined the Tsukikage — she’s downtrodden because despite the fact that she’s able to get into any high school of her choice, her family is poor. Mei, who is street-performing with her guitar, sees her walking sadly and picks her out of the crowd to play a song for her. This is (presumably) how they met, and it’s revealed later that the Tsukikage helped Fu’s financial situation.
Fast-forward to present day, Momo and Goe are complimenting Mei on her singing/street-performing — which Mei reveals she does in order to memorize civilians’ commutes and get intel. The three go back to Mei’s apartment and it’s revealed that Fu lives with Mei. Mei and Fu get into an argument over petty roommate things, highlighting their close relationship as “a squabbling married couple,” as Momo puts it.
Meanwhile, the girls learn a new drug has “hit the streets.” Tsukikage doesn’t have much info on its relevance, so Fu — despite being told not to — takes it upon herself to sweep the entire city for intel. She discovers a man who happens to be dealing the drug (and also, for some reason, makes it known that he gets his rocks off on pain.) Fu is unable to capture him, though, because she is stopped by Mei, who calls her out on disobeying orders.
Their disagreements as mentor and apprentice reach new heights when Fu’s hot-headed stubbornness causes Mei to be shot on a mission. Fu decides to move out of their apartment and go back home (to where she lied to her family and said she was dorming.)
Mei sings a sad song that shows how sad she is, cut with scenes showing how sad the two girls are without each other. Fu sees Mei performing, and the two apologize for not listening to one another. After Fu gifts her with a new guitar pick, she eyes the drug dealer and the duo races off to fight him. After several minutes of fighting the man (who JUST can’t stop talking about his danger-induced-boner), Fu — taking her mentor’s fighting advice — successfully helps defeat him.
Tsukikage finds out that the crime syndicate the man was involved in had attachments to the brothel from the last episode — and, Moryo itself.
Fu moves back in with Mei, and the two bond again.
An entire episode dedicated to highlighting the close relationship of two characters? Gee, sure hope nothing bad happens to either of them later on.
Fu’s maturity (or rather, lack thereof) really shows in a lot of scenes, which is something that was needed to help re-establish her age. Her screw ups on the missions highlight the fact that she herself is still just an apprentice, no matter how mature she wants to seem. Additionally, Mei’s fun-loving personality juxtaposed with the fact that she is still in a mentor position also gives the audience something to think about — and reminds them of the power dynamic in the Tsukikage.
There’s nothing wrong with spending time developing the relationships between characters — it’s necessary for plot, and only hinders a series if it’s used for nothing more than filler. Now that we know the relationship between Fu and Mei, we’ve also gotten to know more about them individually — character-centric/relationship-centric episodes were bound to happen sooner or later. That wasn’t the problem.
The problem was the editing in this episode.
Where to begin? Well, we can look at the main thing that sets this episode apart from all the others, and that’s the use of an original song in it — being sung by a character, no less. The charm of this quirk was quickly undermined by the odd cut in the middle, which stopped the song in its tracks to add a flashback in, rather than just underlay it while the scene played out. Then, as if to try to remind the audience how cool that song was, they put the entire thing in one more time for the ending sequence (which showed more Mei and Fu bonding in place of the usual credits.) The same allure of having a character sing in the episode was also placed at the very beginning, where we think Mei is going to sing an entire song…only to watch her sing three lines which somehow reels an entire audience in to applaud for her.
Aside from cuts being paired with bad editing/scene direction, a lot of the dialogue and voice acting was just plain bad. Some sentences felt like fragments, and parts that should have been heartfelt came off as corny. It almost feels like the writing room had, “Mei and Fu bonding episode” written down on a piece of paper, and nothing else. Plus, the try-hard edgelord antagonist didn’t help. (“What can we do to make this interesting?” “I don’t know, throw in a masochist pedophile as the villain — and have him stab his own hand for funsies.” “Okay, well, we still have 6 minutes worth of airtime.” “Eh, just put a montage in.”)
This is a show that really needs to make sure it’s constantly picking up the slack for its weird concept — otherwise, what’s the point of watching? There’s plenty of other anime out there that anyone can choose from, and if there’s no payoff from the investment, what’s keeping viewers at all?
Release the Spyce — you’re on thin ice.