Yeah – it was that kind of episode.
In a perhaps unexpected turn of events, we find ourselves embroiled in a truly humorous episode of Big O II, as Beck makes his re-appearance during a thunderstorm and promptly gets hit by lightning, morphing his eye-catching blonde hairdo into a golden afro of enviable proportions. And from there, you never really go back.
I have to give credit where credit is due, because although it certainly is an incredibly goofy episode, it is also genuinely funny. From R. Dorothy’s turn as a Negotiator to the Super Sentai send-up at the episode’s climax, there’s something in here for almost everyone.
So, Beck escapes from jail, and manages to shanghai Roger through trickery of some highly stereotyped pseudo-Japanese people:
Seriously, it couldn’t have been any worse than if they’d tossed Charlie Chan into the scene… except, of course, it’d be Charlie Tanaka. Most of these folks have buck-teeth, slits for eyes, sound odd when they speak, and, yes, take pictures of EVERYTHING.
At the time this aired in the U.S., a lot of folks tried to pin this particular bit on Cartoon Network, which completely ignores that Cartoon Network’s input was cash, not creative effort. So this one is completely on Sunrise, and it’s really pretty weird. Why put in such offensive caricatures of your in-group, after all? Or was this just supposed to be Sunrise poking fun at the stereotypes? Maybe it worked for Japanese folks, but to me it just feels crude and detracts from the remainder of the episode.
(By the way, in the dub, the three in that first picture aren’t dubbed over; their voices are simply left as is, which is fine since it helps with the fact that everyone spoke Japanese in the original, so they shouldn’t’ve been incomprehensible to Roger… nor should their writing system be. This seems to be why the men speak weirdly – it seems to be meant to imply that even though they are speaking the same language, they aren’t.)
But, enough of that. So Roger is kidnapped, R. Dorothy is the Negotiator, and its absolutely delightful to watch. While everyone else frets, she handles the situation in her trademark straightforward fashion, albeit somewhat to the dismay of people like Dastun. But she proves perhaps even more capable of a Negotiator than Roger is, ultimately, although she assures him she has no interest in his job.
Beck’s buffoonification is complete, and he and his lackeys are back in jail by episode’s end. Its a nice breather after the intensity of last episode, and a drink before the war, if you will.
Although it is mostly fun and games, we do get a few tidbits of… stuff that perhaps has greater ramifications:
- Beck knows Roger is the Dominus Megadeus because of a Memory that suddenly surfaced in his mind
- Beck’s copy of Roger, paired with a recording of Roger’s voice, is enough to lead the Big O itself astray. Hmm. We could read this as yet another questioning of what identity is…
Roger is, as has become standard for him, skeptical when Beck claims that he has a Memory that told him that Roger pilots the Big O. But he also doesn’t have any alternative theories as to why the man would know it.
Once again, not knowing even approximate ages for many (most, really) makes it difficult to assess the situation. I find it hard to believe that Roger is old enough to have been around at the time of the mass memory loss, ditto for Beck, so it seems unlikely that Beck’s ‘Memory’ is actually from the past. But that calls into question – where the hell did it come from, then? We could question if we really believe Beck about it, too, but there’s nothing to indicate that he is lying, and, anyway, what does he have to gain by lying? After all, last we were aware of, people who admit to having Memories are not safe in Paradigm City.
I do have my theories on the genesis of Beck’s Memory, but they’re spoilery, and, uguu, effort of warning of spoilers. So I’ll keep them to myself for the time being.
I did watch parts of this episode in English to compare to the Japanese. I will admit that I find Beck’s English VA better suited to the comedic material, although I still stand by earlier assertions that R. Dorothy’s and Dastun’s Japanese VA’s are leagues ahead of their English-language counterparts.