I tend to miss my blog’s benchmarks. I realized in June that my third anniversary had passed in April, and I’m not sure when I broke 300,000 hits, but I’m already halfway to 400,000. But most of all, I’ve missed my specially-numbered posts, or realized after the fact that I’ve made them. Well, today I was lucky and noticed that this will be my 800th published post! It’s a great mark to have, because 8 has always been a special number to me (I was born on August 8, weighing 8 pounds and 8 ounces) so to mark the occasion, I’ll be listing 8 of my favorite ‘episode 8s’.
8 tends to be an important episode number in anime. In a lot of 26-episode shows, the 8th episode marks the transition from plot set-up to actual movement of events, and will often feature a shocking twist or revelation that changes the way things will happen from there on out. This is a common enough practice that I could make a list of just transitional eighth episodes, but of course, being an important episode doesn’t necessarily qualify as being a memorable and awesome one, so this list will take eighth episodes from any series. The requirement for consideration on this list was that the eighth episode wasn’t just great, but was one of the most memorable or amazing episodes in the entire series. Oh, and you can count on there being spoilers for each episode.
8. Mai-HiME – “Precious Things”
“Precious Things” is a classic example of the plot bursting wide open in a 26-ep series. Most of the episode is the usual Mai-HiME fare – there’s an even mix of fun comedy and cool action as everyone in the show’s massive cast appears. Even aside from the dramatic final third, it’s still a very well-paced and written episode with gorgeous visuals (and this being a Sunrise series, that doesn’t remain consistent throughout the show).
It might’ve seemed like a pretty big moment when Mai ends up showing her powers to the guy that just asked her out and also comes to accept her powers, remembering that she took them in the first place to protect her brother. But that’s not the important part of the episode; instead, it’s the part about a young couple that gets most of the screentime.
Really, it should’ve been obvious that something bad was going to happen, since the girl had been a random side-character before and was now suddenly getting extra attention, but that didn’t stop the episode from being a huge shock the first time through. The young couple are very close, and the girl, a HiME, wants to show her powers to her boyfriend because they promised not to keep anything from one-another. As it happens, they get attacked by a monster, and the girl uses her powers to take it down. She expects her boyfriend to run away, but he says “you thought I’d stop loving you over something like this?” and hugs her tight. They share a kiss, and it’s all heartwarming and shit.
Well, this blue-haired chick had also shown up with the monster, and was supposedly friendly with the girl; and that’s when things get OMG. The blue-haired chick says something about needing ‘data’, and suddenly reveals that she’s a fucking robot. She then turns her arm into a blade and massacres the girl’s spirit beast thing. The girl is horrified, thinking that she’s going to die, as she was told that she’d lose her ‘most precious thing’ if her beast was killed; but here’s the twist! Her boyfriend suddenly dies! As it turns out, losing your beast means that the person you care about most will die. Aside from being a horribly depressing moment, this raised the stakes of drama in the series tenfold. Now, not only is there the worry that someone else will die when a beast is killed, but it becomes a game of watching what characters fall in love with and come to care about whom, because you never know when or who is going to die. Intense shit.
7. Neon Genesis Evangelion – “Asuka Strikes!”
It’s hard to talk about memorable things without mentioning Evangelion, and “Asuka Strikes!” happens to be among the most memorable character introductions in anime. It’s a hilarious ride, and first in a string of Evangelion’s funniest and most bizarre eps., introducing a whole new brand of human fanservice vehicle from Rei and Misato. A lot of the most memorable elements are images – the image of Asuka’s first appearance, standing cross-armed on the bridge, drawn from a perspective that appears to be towering over the viewer, looking down with conceit; then the classic resulting joke of Shinji’s dumb-ass friend showing Asuka his cock.
And let’s not forget the introduction of resident Takehito Koyasu voice, Kaji, a smooth bastard with enough charisma to charm Asuka, fill Misato with equal parts regret and longing, and even earn Shinji’s favor. (I’m sure we can get into the psychological implications of this, with Kaji being the vision of ‘adulthood,’ and children who want to be adult-like admiring him – I digress.) Perhaps equally as memorable as Asuka’s introduction is that of Eva Unit 02, who arrives wearing it’s tarp as a cape, tosses it to the sky as it leaps from ship to ship, and flashes it’s amazing agility and handling while striking all sorts of great poses.
All this fun and coolness is woven together with NGE’s brilliant fanservice. Asuka gets a panty shot within her first minute on-screen, cleavage later, and her air-tight suit fits her beautifully with her arched back and pressed-out chest – especially when piloting. Even the almighty catchphrase “anta baka?!” is introduced. On the action front, we get to see one of Master Tactition Katsuragi Misato’s most brilliant plans, coupled with such fluid and gorgeous animation as to give me a raging boner. In other words, it’s an episode of Evangelion.
6. FullMetal Alchemist – “The Philosopher’s Stone”
One thing I missed from the original FMA was this anime-original episode that introduced Barry the Chopper in a whole different way than the manga/Brotherhood. In either version, Barry is mostly known as the soul bound to armor that’s somewhat of a lovably heroic villain, but in this anime version, Barry first appears as a cross-dressing serial killer whom Ed defeats as his first major credit to his name – but it’s hardly a brave or proud victory.
This episode is all about showing Ed’s weakness and childishness. In the episode previous, the little girl whom Ed and Al had befriended, Nina, was turned into a chimera by her own father and then mercilessly slaughtered by Scar. Throughout the episode, Ed is traumatized by Nina’s death, and starts moving in a blind fury to try and find out who might’ve killed her, personally intending to capture them. He doesn’t listen to anyone that tries to comfort or reason with him, including his own brother. It’s easy to see his immaturity in dealing with the situation as he gives up his newly-acquired state alchemy watch just to get his way.
Things take a turn for the mortifying when Winry comes to visit the brothers and, before even meeting them, is kidnapped by Barry and hauled off to his meat factory. Ed finds his way there, but Barry tricks him, knocks him unconscious, ties him to a chair, and removes his automail arm. He taunts Ed by hauling out Winry, whose been gagged and tied to a meat hook by a chain around her hands and is understandably terrified as fuck. Ed manages to use alchemy to break the chains, but in a twist from your standard anime fare, he doesn’t just turn around and mess up Barry. No, he’s scared shitless, running around, trying his hardest to escape the cleaver-weilding madman, all while tripping, screaming, flailing, trying to do anything to survive, but being unable to properly fight back.
When Ed finally re-attaches his arm, it’s still a struggle. When he finally gets a chance, he viciously wails on Barry, screaming, eyes wild, unable to control himself; and when a hand touches his shoulder, he swings a blade around furiously, cutting his own brother across the chest (not damaging him of course, but still.) He bursts into tears, and afterward is left shaken and immobile.
This event was sort of like a ‘loss of innocence’ moment for Ed. He stops being childish about Nina’s death and realizes just what his position is and what he’s going to have to put himself through to get his goals. He becomes a state alchemist once again, and it’s clear he’s not the same brat he was before. When Mustang tells him that he’s been assigned the title “FullMetal Alchemist”, Ed responds, “I like it. It has an oppressive feel to it.” Which I think well expresses the sort of person he’s becoming.
5. Claymore – “Awakening”
Episodes 5-8 of Claymore comprise a backstory arc about how, as a child, the main character, Clare, ended up being a tag-along to the most powerful Claymore, Teresa the Faint Smile. This arc is arguably the best in the Claymore anime, what with it largely being a chronicle of how badass Teresa is, but it ends in quite an unexpected fashion. At the end of episode 7, Teresa was being hunted by 4 Claymores, having broken the rules of the Claymore organization, and she fights them all throughout episode 8.
One of them is a newbie named Priscilla who has latent power so immense that it could become far greater than any other. However, she lacks experience, and Teresa is so far beyond all four attackers in terms of skill that she beats them all down without releasing any of her special powers (while all four opponents are releasing theirs). Teresa incapacitates all of them and, realizing Priscilla’s potential, considers killing her. However, she relents, commenting that she’s “grown soft.” Teresa and Clare head out of town, thinking that the others won’t be stupid enough to follow; but what they don’t count on is that Priscilla completely flips her lid over losing and starts unlocking higher levels of her power to take off in pursuit of Teresa.
Once again, Teresa and Priscilla get locked in a showdown, but Priscilla keeps unleashing more of her power to fight. This is dangerous because if a Claymore goes above using 80% of their power, they will fully transform into a demonic Yoma and never be able to return to human form. Priscilla finally ends up at this point, and is on the ground, at first begging for her life, but then, as she realizes that she can’t transform back, begs for death. Teresa prepares to grant this wish, but in a shocking twist, Priscilla suddenly grabs her blade and hacks Teresa’s arms clear off, then decapitates her.
The rest of Priscilla’s party, who’d shown up and tried to make her stop fighting, watches in awe as Priscilla becomes and Awakened Being – a creature that’s far more powerful (and creepy) than an ordinary Yoma. They try to do something to stop her, but all of them are easily slaughtered, leaving just an (even more) traumatized Clare behind with the corpses as she flies away.
This episode is pretty much pure action, but watching Priscilla’s evolution throughout the episode is quite interesting, and the shocking twist manages to create a frightening villain in a matter of moments.
4. Simoun – “Prayer”
Simoun episode 8 follows the drama between the leading cast that lead to their Chor facing disbandment. This may not matter, though, because their country is negotiating with the enemy Plumbum Highlands, who’ve sent three diplomats and three priestesses to discuss peace. However, one of the priestesses, a cute, young little thing, isn’t allowed in the conference, so she spends time with Chor Tempest.
They show her around the ship and talk, both parties interested in the other’s religion and nature, as well as view on the war. Each member of Chor Tempest has their own ideas about all this, with some girls excited that the war may end and others in despair because they don’t want to stop being sybillae or have to go to the springs. We watch the girls’ interactions, and a noteworthy moment where, while the Plumbum priestess introduces herself to the girls, she repeats each of their names except for that of Aeru, and though Aeru complains, doesn’t explain herself.
Later, it becomes apparent that the peace talks were a set-up. The young priestess takes a hostage with her and infiltrates the Simoun hangar. At first, the girls think she intends to steal a Simoun, but then the priestess throws her hostage aside and produces a large bomb. Everyone runs from the hangar, and the priestess puts her gun to the bomb and as she fires, screams “AERU!!!” The hangar explodes, and Aeru is terrified, as she’s told that “Aeru” is the word meaning ‘the love of God’ in the Plumbum language.
Aeru finds herself shaken, and starts asking if she deserves to be a pilot when she doesn’t consider herself a priestess. “After all, I don’t even have the love of God.” But then her pair, Neviril, steps up, making it very apparent that her balls have finally dropped, and gives Aeru a brief speech, telling her to “Stand up. You are my pair.” Everything about this whole ending scene is amazing, from the chilling determination on the Plumbum priestess’ face and her amazing battle cry to the moment I’d been waiting for of Neviril getting her head back and slapping a little sense into Aeru. All-around memorable and great scenes.
3. Kamichu! – “Wild Times”
Ordinarily a quiet, slowly-paced slice-of-life series about a middle school girl in a backwater town in the 70s who happens to be a god, Kamichu takes advantage of it’s crazy premise to produce a couple of really zany episodes. “Wild Times” centers on Yurie and her cat, Tama, whom she can communicate to telepathically, and who also happens to have the soul of a poverty god sharing her body. In the episode, a secret society of cats has started wrecking havoc on the down by attacking anything that’s been seen as oppressing cats. For the first half of the episode, it seems like any other, with the usual fun and relaxed tempo, but then things get strange when Yurie, who takes the form of an adorable pink kitten in a cute little dress, follows Tama to the secret cat society, and it quickly becomes apparent that this is a Fight Club parody.
The leader of the cat society (“Cat’s World”) is Tyler Nyarden, and his aim is to end the human oppression over cats by teaching cats to fight and then lead an uprising. Tama opposes Tyler’s plans and challenges him to a “Cat Fight” for the position of leader. Thus, a wrestling ring appears, and Tama and Yurie have a tag-team wrestling match against Tyler and an enormous 30-kg cat (whom Tyler can lift one-handed). It’s a goofy match with all sorts of comedic hijinks involved, and Tama’s team wins thanks to the amazing tartness of umeboshi.
“Wild Times” isn’t special for any deep or emotional reasons, but is a great and fun episode that manages to stand out in a show that’s full of them. It’s definitely an episode you’ll never see in another anime.
2. Casshern Sins – “The Praise of Hope”
Casshern Sins is the tale of indestructible amnesiac robot Casshern wandering the world that he supposedly destroyed and trying to figure out just what his purpose is. The world is a hopeless, hellish wasteland where everyone is dead or dying and most of them are trying to devour Casshern out of a belief that doing so will grant them immortality. Their efforts are futile, as Casshern can destroy anything basically by posing in front of it, but it’s the only thing that anyone has.
In “The Praise of Hope”, Casshern meets a robot woman who sings beautiful songs which are able to make their listeners forget about the ruination of the world and, somehow, feel hope. Many seek to kill her just because they can’t take the idea of feeling hope in this world, but Casshern protects her (evidently for a considerable amount of time) on her journey to reach a certain theater that she’s been searching for over the years. It was a performance she saw here long ago that rocked her to the core and made her want to sing, hopefully inspiring everyone who hears her. At the theater, hundreds of robots have gathered to hear her song, anticipating her arrival, and meanwhile, an army of scavenger robots are heading there to kill the smaller robots. The money scene of the episode is four minutes of the woman singing her amazing song juxtaposed against Casshern slaughtering the entire army of attacking robots.
The impact this has on Casshern is that the woman basically assures him that he isn’t evil. When Casshern sees dead robots or realizes he’s just killed a bunch of them, he feels tormented, especially because he believes the ruin is his own fault. The woman, however, doesn’t condemn him – when he’s frightened and torn, she embraces him gently, and lets him feel the same hope that she offers to everyone else with her song. She tells Casshern that there’s nothing which does not have a reason or purpose, further assuring Casshern that he shouldn’t fear himself. Before her performance, she tells Casshern, “tonight, I sing to calm your heart,” as she realizes that no one in this hopeless world feels more turmoil than Casshern himself.
It’s a great episode for all the usual reasons that a Casshern Sins episode is great, but the singing/fighting scene is one of the best in the series and utterly unforgettable. It felt even more stirring to watch it now, since I know the show’s music better than I do any other.
1. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann – “Later, Buddy”
Gurren Lagann’s eighth episode is one of the most unforgettable in anime, and never ceases to give me chills on repeat viewings. Back when the show was airing, some of us on Megatokyo Forums had theorized that Kamina was likely to die before too long, and after seeing the seventh episode, I was convinced it would happen in episode 8. Sure enough, the whole episode is like one big, dramatic setup for the death, that only becomes more intense on repeat viewings when you’re waiting for it the entire time.
It begins with Kamina’s kissing Yoko, which should’ve been a manly and beautiful moment, but ends up being the trigger for Simon’s lack of focus during the important battle. The lengthy confrontation has everyone fighting and showing off, just building up for a big climax. Simon is fucking up on the battlefield, which leads to the first amazing moment of the episode, when Kamina leaps from his mech, runs over to Simon screaming “CLENCH THOSE TEETH!” and punches the fuck out of him, waking him up for the fight. We think we’ll be launching into an asskicking now, but then a spear goes through the Gurren-Lagann’s back, and a volcano of blood erupts from Kamina’s body in the cockpit.
However, Kamina isn’t down yet! He wakes up and gives Simon his final manly speech, telling him that instead of “[believing] in me who believes in you” as he’s been doing, he must learn to “believe in you who believes in yourself.” He then initiates the Gurren-Lagann’s ultimate attack, the GIGA DRILL BREAKER! – we don’t need anyone to tell us that this is the ultimate attack – it’s something that we can feel down to the core of our souls. The enemy is obliterated, and then, as in the screenshot above, Kamina closes his eyes for good – and this being GL, of course his death is remembering love for a classic moment in Ashita no Joe that looks the same. The episode closes out with around eight incredible-looking images that tell the reactions soundlessly beneath the pouring rain. It definitely goes down as one of the greatest and most memorable death scenes in anime, and one simply cannot talk about Gurren-Lagann without mention of episode 8. [F]
That about does it folks! So, what’re your favorite 8th episodes of anime? Be sure to tell me about how awesome they are in the comments!
Gakuen Alice had it’s best scene in the 8th episode.
This post title is a reference to (500) Days of Summer.