Shinkansen henkei robo shinkalion z - episode 3-5 thoughts and analysis
So I’m just going to not do any introductions any more, since it gets rather redundant. I’ll do a “here’s what happened so far” type deal once the first cour has finished airing. While I’ll discuss the events of the episodes in order, this isn’t meant to be a recap, it’s meant to be, as the title says, “thoughts and analysis.” Therefore I won’t mention literally everything that happens, only if it’s relevant to what I want to say about the series.
While on the way to their destination, Shin and Abuto are taking the Shinkansen. Then Abuto begins nerding out about it. He’s clearly taken the place of Hayato for doing comedic info dumps about trains, just an observation. Smatt then says that “No one can match Abuto’s passion for this stuff!” One of the adult characters sitting next to them then giggles, possibly hinting at a connection with Hayato from the previous season? I really hope we’ll get to see some recurring characters later on, maybe in the third or fourth cour? I think waiting a while is definitely a smart move though, wouldn’t be as interesting if it happened in the first few episodes, which luckily, it hasn’t so far.
Abuto is embarrassed when Shin points out how much he loves and is passionate about the Shinkansen. While it may seem like Abuto’s character arc was complete in the span of episode 1-2, I think the main focus is going to be on him eventually accepting and being more open about the things he’s passionate about.
We also get some more screen time with some of this season’s bad guys but we have yet to learn anything about their motivations, which is fine, it’s going to be a long series and we're very early in. We then get introduced to a new character, Hanabi Omagari, I’m very interested to see how he’ll interact with the other characters, especially Shin, because he embodies aspects of both Abuto and Shin - he is, like Abuto, experienced, which Shin is not, and he can pilot a Shinkalion, like Shin, however Abuto can’t.
Moving on to episode four, we get a lot of focus on Hanabi and his relationship to his father. The relationship to one's immediate family is a theme and topic that the previous series tackled a lot as well, and it’s especially interesting due to the circumstances that the main characters find themselves in, having to balance what information they can tell their parents. What’s interesting here is that during this episode’s battle, both Hanabi’s dad and mom learn about how he’s fighting monsters.
Back to the order of events, Hanabi has some issues with his father while in comparison Shin and Abuto have rather stable relationships with theirs.
This isn’t subtext and the characters just state it outright, but I do like that they mention that the fighting styles of each character plays into their personalities. Abuto says that “The long range support type E6 is a good match for Hanabi’s personality.” I think it’s neat.
The real meat of the episode is Hanabi’s relationship with his dad, who wants him to succeed him as the owner of their firework shop. Hanabi is enthusiastic about working with fireworks, however he also wants to do music, which his dad disapproves of, he feels his son is overextending and not putting in actual effort into anything since he wants to do more than one thing.
Hanabi’s dad never got to take him on any summer vacations because apparently, summer vacation is the biggest time for fireworks and so he has to be working a lot during this period. While this helps reinforce what we know about the relationship between Hanabi and his dad, it’s also very interesting from a more personal perspective for me due to the culture shock I received while watching this. In Norway, where I live, I’m pretty sure it’s illegal to shoot up fireworks on any day that isn’t New Years eve, or you’d at least need a permit of some kind I think. But here, the biggest time for fireworks is in the middle of summer. Even if I’ve seen many festivals depicted in anime, many with fireworks, it never really struck me until now.
It’s also very interesting that Abuto was embarrassed and annoyed when Smatt shared personal details about him with Shin in episode 2, however when Smatt shares personal details about Shin with Abuto and Hanabi, Shin doesn’t object at all, showing the difference in their personalities very clearly.
Hanabi wants to focus on many things because there ARE many cool things to explore and do, and while his dad sees that as leaving things half finished, Hanabi is sincere and gives it his all, “But I want to try things until I discover the real me, and there’s a lot of things I want to challenge myself with!” The conflict between Hanabi and his dad is then resolved when his dad sees him fighting in the Shinkalion and after Hanabi plays music at the festival his dad supplied fireworks to, helping him understand his son’s perspective because he sees that Hanabi does actually put his all into what he focuses on, and that focusing on multiple things doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re doing one thing half hearted.
This episode focuses on introducing us to the last Shinkalion pilot, who lives up in the mountains. This is unlike the main characters, all of whom live in the city. While Abuto, Shin and Kasumi (one of the adults working at the Ultra Evolution Institute are searching for the new pilot in the forests, they encounter and are chased by a wild boar, showing how unattuned they are to this environment. The first we see of the new pilot (Taiju) is a flashback where he himself says that he’s timid, however when we encounter him in present day he’s fending off a wild boar by himself with his bare hands, thereby introducing us to his central conflict, which is going to take a few more episodes to resolve.
One thing I think was rather neat is that we are shown old railways in the area around the forest that the episode takes place in, and these trains apparently used to carry lumber, however now it is all carried by truck. Trains are outdated for this issue, but the Shinkalions are trains adapting towards a new issue? I feel like I should be able to extrapolate something from this.
Taiju gains some confidence when he is praised by Shin for his wood cleaving skills, I wonder if maybe he just never really had anyone that gave him the confidence he needed to pursue what he wanted? We only get a very short flashback of his parents and his grandpa seems nice enough so we don’t currently know enough to be sure. While Taiju helps Shin and Abuto defeat this episode's monster, he doesn’t want to pilot the Shinkalion anymore, he simply doesn’t have any motivation to do it, to the dismay of the other characters. The episode ends on this somber note. There’s no chance he won’t eventually join, he’s in the opening theme after all, but I’m still excited to see how he’ll change in order to make the decision to join.