Overview (Spoilers Below):
With Kaikoku trapped in the white room, all of his teammates band together in an effort to rescue him. They’re given a gigantic puzzle to solve, but if anyone can handle it, Yuzu can. Meanwhile, Kaikoku escapes from the white room and joins a mysterious group of people called the Underground, of which Zakuro’s missing sister is one of them.
The ninth episode of The Ones Within packs a lot of stuff into its short run time. We get a look at the white room, find Zakuro’s missing sister, and potentially meet a mermaid? And on top of all that, another challenge is going on for the rest of the crew. With so much going on, it’s a good thing the show does a pretty good job of keeping everything straight (Except Nanami).
When Kaikoku was taken prisoner last week, I don’t think it was explicitly said what he did to warrant it. Now though, we get confirmation that he attempted to beat Paca with a stick because he thinks he somehow negatively affected his grandfather’s health? I’m a little confused by Kai’s reasoning, and honestly, I don’t blame Paca for banishing him to the white room, since he did start it by coming after him with a weapon. Paca tells him he’ll be trapped there until his friends have reached 100 million views. But later on, Kai finds a deep hole in the bathroom floor that leads underneath the compound. He ends up meeting three other white roomers: Nanami, Hiro, and Sakura, Zakuro’s sister.
This is where I have to waggle a metaphorical finger at the show. How much exactly does Paca know about the Underground? Why has he not found them when it’s obvious that they’re missing from the room? There’s no way he didn’t notice that loose bathroom tile, and with so many cameras everywhere, I’m sure the white room is monitored. Basically, I have a feeling that Paca and the Underground might not be so diametrically opposed to each other on deeper reflection. Maybe Nanami and Paca are working together? Nanami does have the telltale anime sign of evil: a facial mole!
During Kai’s tunneling adventures, the gang up top is taking part in a challenge. Paca tells them he’ll let them attempt to rescue Kai, but they have to unlock code first. And the hint for the code is hidden in a gigantic jigsaw puzzle. It seems pretty hopeless, especially since they only have three days to do it, but Yuzu is a puzzle master. Still, even she’s losing faith in herself until Karin reminds her to keep ongoing. (And that whole Karin/Yuzu interaction was weird, doubly-so considering their exchange last week.) Solving a puzzle isn’t exactly the most exciting thing to watch, but we do get some humor and group repertoire going on. I really liked when Akatsuki had to translate Anya’s sweet message to Himi.
The dub this week had some nice lines and performances from the newcomers as well as the old hats. “I can do a great many things, but controlling life and death is not one of them.” Even Paca admits he’s not all-powerful. But he must be super rich to have a private island resort. “Until he’s here, I’m not playing anything.” Iride’s commitment to Kai’s wellbeing is very sweet. I’m still suspicious of him a bit, but he definitely seems like the real deal. “So for once in your life, you will understand your place.” Paca’s direct challenge to Yuzu makes me wonder about them. Could Yuzu possibly be an inside agent for him? It’s mentioned she’s super gifted and possibly older than everyone else? “Only those who have dropped out can see the big picture here.” Nanami has been there for four years! It was nice to get some perspective on things, like how Paca gets helicopter deliveries from the outside world… maybe they can use one to escape later on!
HEAVEN WHITE AND HELL BLACK provided a lot of entertainment value and dished out some deeper lore on Paca and his kooky island. I still have a lot of questions about the Underground and how they survived for this many years, but I’m optimistic those will be addressed later. It was touching seeing everyone band together to save Kai, and it looks like Yuzu might have found the secret to the puzzle. I guess we’ll find it out for ourselves next week.