Kabetaijin visits the club and is overwhelmed by Eiko’s performance. Unwilling to risk going on stage again, he tries to sneak away, but is called out by Kongming. The pair finally face off in a full-length rap battle that flows back and forth with the energy of the crowd until at last, a victor is decided.
First off, apologies for the delay in this review – we ran into some scheduling challenges and it took time to sort everything out, but we’re getting back on track. Thanks for your patience!
After a bit of a slow start, I think episode 6 really hits what it was aiming for once it gets moving. The beginning rehashes some of what we saw earlier, but once Eiko takes the stage, it’s a whole new ball game. She sings a cover of a song that Kabetaijin listened to as a student, and was one of the inspirations for him to pursue music in the first place. We also get a lot more context for his love of rap and what led him to where he is now. This may have felt more compelling if the previous episode had been less repetitive, but in the overall structure of the show, it works well.
The centerpiece of the episode is a massive 10-minute rap battle broken up into two sets of three verses per contestant. While it’s hard to gauge the quality of the lyrics across the language barrier, the presentation and energy is outstanding, and the translation work is fantastic. As always, Kongming has clearly done his homework and goes hard on the showmanship to taunt Kabetaijin into giving it his all. By the end of the battle, both rappers’ style has changed dramatically in ways that reflect their background, and it makes for a really fun journey through the music.
The rap battle also evolves visually as it progresses, as Kongming and Kabetaijin appear to embody heroes of the Three Kingdoms (at least in Kobayashi’s eyes). It’s a fun flourish, though as some have pointed out, it feels a little stiff at times. It would’ve been nice to see the animators really up their game for such a big sequence, but here’s hoping that they’ve saved those resources for the climax of the show.
Once the battle is over, the episode plays out as we’ve come to expect; Kongming set the whole thing up by using his spy to glean information on Kabetaijin so he could manipulate him more easily. From knowing what music would catch Kabetaijin’s ear, to slipping him a traditional cure for his ulcer, Kongming continues to be three steps ahead of everyone else. It’s still a fun gag, and with a new member of the crew on board, it’ll be interesting to see how this changes the trajectory of Eiko’s career.
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