Kuze’s in the wind, but we aren’t back to the Stand Alone episodes. In fact, we won’t truly return there until arguably Episode 13, for even the interlude with Episode 10, “Trial,” offers some insight on the CIS. This is the developing Complex, in which suspicion about Gouda begins to mount, and the situation with the refugees swells, culminating in a revelation about the Individual Eleven in Episode 12.
For now, we have a Togusa-led episode, which should clue us in — he’s always up on leads. He and the Chief are in the cyborg-morgue, the cyborgue, with one of the male operators. Before them, sprawled out on a table, is the victim of a suspected homicide, made to look like an accident. This is a Toyota model cyborg, if I heard that correctly. Looks like their investigation into the Energy Ministry has now hit a dead end. Togusa’s given a few items that may help him determine the guy’s identity. He zeroes in on the wedding ring.
Togusa meets with the reporter that the man had spoken to. This guy had called from Tokyo about a tip about the Ministry of Energy. He was convinced this exposed frame of film was somehow evidence, but it’s obviously useless. Togusa hangs onto it regardless. He reports in to the Chief, who tells him to head to Tokyo. It’ll have to be alone, as everyone else is still working the security detail. One Tachikoma is assigned to him. Togusa’s concerned about the radiation, and the Chief becomes irritable — how long’s it been since the war? No radiation, not with the Japanese Miracle.
Togusa arrives by train, that blue jacket slung over his shoulder. The landscape is flooded, with buildings submerged. He walks along this scenic view, and the invisible Tachikoma rolls up behind him. Are you worried?! The Tachikoma spurts. No, Togusa says. “Do you want to ride in my pod?” That would make me feel worse. “A wise guy, eh?”
Togusa’s attitude toward the Tachikoma has been made explicit, if we recall last season with “Time of the Machines,” when an existential rolly-polly was asking Batou about God. It theorized that maybe Togusa doesn’t like the Tachikoma because he’s got kids. The relationship between robots, kids, and dolls — well, that’s been covered. Here, we have an individual story, but we go into it with a reminder that indeed, Togusa isn’t a big fan of the Tachikoma. So let’s keep that in mind.
This odd couple heads through a market, and I can’t really tell if the Tachikoma is terrified, or excited. Togusa interviews someone about the guy in the photo, if you’d take a look, please. Another guy approaches him from the side, and references a disfigured guy (Gouda) among the suspicious people he’d seen. Togusa, inquiring about this prosthetic character, is told that people here can’t afford cyborg bodies, and they use whatever scraps they can scrounge.
A woman nearby is conducting the same investigation, but without the backup of a Mateba revolver, a hookup with the Major, and a tank — and the sexual dimorphism of male muscle, herp — she’s easily lured and overpowered by some of these scrounger cyborgs. In the dark alley, Togusa rescues his damsel with that power glove thing. This won’t be the first time he comes to the aid of a helpless woman. *Yawn*
Susan here was looking for Kotan Kanji — Togusa’s man. He takes her in, and we see that she’s someone who takes showers — look at her go. Seems she was engaged to Kanji, but lost contact. Kanji had promised her that they’d make it out of the refugee town, but he needed a new prosthetic body. He went in to get one but was refused, and at that point, began to avoid her.
Togusa reveals to her that dearest Kotan was under investigation for blackmailing the Ministry of Energy. But he’d already had a body, as we saw in the cyborgue, so why bother? He tells her they’ll check the flophouse district tomorrow.
In their interviews with more refugees, they learn of a folk tale about getting a free prosthetic body from one of the sunken buildings over there. Togusa spots a guy running away, and this little fella is instantly cornered.
Togusa and Susan sit him down — he explains that he wouldn’t be alive if it wasn’t for Kotan, who he refers to as the ‘professor.’ They’d worked together down at a subterranean structure in the Uchikon 7 district. He goes on to explain that there was some kind of excavation job that required 98% prosthetics — descaling this structure. When he went in, he’d assumed that others had doctored their percentages like he did. But when Kotan found out, he told him to leave. Our buddy, Susan, needed the money. So Kotan gave him that frame of film (radiation badge) — when it turns black, skip off.
Then all hell broke loose in our subterranean flashback. Technicians wheel by on stretchers, red flashing lights. He and Kotan escaped, but workers were being sealed in behind them. Togusa asks if he can take them there, but Susan is alarmed. You couldn’t pay me to return there! Togusa’s like, well I wouldn’t pay you I’d probably just break your arm or something, but he makes a more Togusa-esque offer — take us halfway.
Upon arrival, they spot the GSDA. This is all different, Susan says. So Togusa and Susan go in, but Susan stays behind, turns around and beats a retreat in fact. All the while, they’re being watched by the black suits of the CIS.
Togusa and Susan explore the excavation site, and are accosted by arm suits, the very same featured in the opening titles. They’re not really the more humanoid Landmate-style of the Navy’s armor from the first season — I’m not a huge fan. And for the record, if you’re wondering when all that action from the opening title sequence is gonna go down… it doesn’t. Japanese anime companies typically work as they go, which is why episodes are sometimes delayed. I felt that for the first time while watching Kill la Kill, because it was ‘simulcast’ in the States. If that episode wasn’t online when I was ready for it… the hair-tearing.
Togusa and Susan escape in an extended chase sequence, leading them to a door at the end of a hall, one that leads to the ocean, many stories below. Looks like this is it — but the Tachikoma shows up to save the day. By this point we understand that it isn’t programming: the Tachikoma are individuals, independent. It may have rescued Togusa because that’s its job, but I like to think it was because it cares about him, and this is the beginning of a brand new friendship, to be chronicled in Tachikomatic Days Gaiden.
Togusa talks with Susan at the train station. He tells her that Kotan knew the risks, but took the job ultimately to be with her. It’s just that he saw things. She tells him that she’ll go pick his body up. If you run into trouble, give me a call. He reports in, and the Chief says that there must’ve been an accident, prompting a hasty cover-up, but the military doesn’t know why this pre-war installation was dug up.
Togusa sees Susan’s face on a newspaper, and tries to call the living Susan to warn her, but a black suit, whose legs we see walking away on the platform, drops a girly cell phone as it rings. A grisly ending, and unfortunately, one that doesn’t really affect Togusa all that much.
We’re used to it by now. We don’t expect much from these kinds of guest characters, because they’re not going to carry over into the subsequent episodes, in terms of their impact on the main cast. Batou never mentions Amoretti or Zaitsev ever again, because they’re meant to exist in the moment. This is how the subtlety of the character development plays out, beat by beat — invisibly, and always at the expense of explicit continuity.