No, the animation in this episode doesn't really get better. Neither had there been more references and lectures concerning Economics, as expected.
(YESSSS!!! THERE'S VIOLENCE AND BLOODSHED!!!! Looks like this series will be "dark" despite the colorful setting~ I like that~)
But overall this episode had been so fantastic. Lil' flaws here and there aren't much of a big deal to me.
Kimimaro was finally brought to Financial District and in this episode is where the "Leading Character's First Battle" finally occurs. He gets to meet his Asset, Mashu, as well; she's his property, weapon, shield, tool, pawn, servant, guardian, hotline, bodyguard, partner, sidekick, and strength in a form of a red-headed girl with horns.
You can't exactly call Kimimaro's first Deal as a "battle"... it was more like a game of "Cat and Mouse". He only made one attack, and lucky for him his sole fighting move was enough to bring the enemy down.
There had been a lot of shounen heroes who get dragged into a dangerous supernatural battle all of a sudden. It's their first time, so obviously they have no idea on what they're supposed to do and how to fight. But even so, they survive no matter how useless they are, and in the end they will do a surprisingly powerful move, which could beat even the other characters who are supposed to be the ones with more experience, and win their first battle. Yeah, they're that special. Wonderful miracles happen to the leading characters.
Is Kimimaro one of them?
Yeah, Kimimaro was pretty lucky.. but his win wasn't out of pure luck. Like with his Asset, for instance. Kimimaro didn't just happen to have the "powerful card". Mashu's the embodiment of his future; so if his Asset is that remarkable, then that means his potential to be successful in the future is THAT high. And that is no surprise because of his frugality, patience, diligence, and humility. If he gains the will to be wealthy and if you give him time and opportunities, there are HIGH chances of him becoming a millionaire. There are a lot of wealthy people who became successful out of hardwork.
In other words, Kimimaro didn't beat his opponent just because of some dumb miracle... he was REALLY CAPABLE of doing so. Besides, his opponent spent quite a lot of money in just attacking him, so decreasing the opponent's cash became less difficult.
For winning even though he's just a newbie, Kimimaro has become somewhat of a celebrity at the Financial Distrct now. It will be pretty cliche if he was the first one, but apparently Mikuni had been a wonder kid as well. They had so many similarities, it'll be no surprise if Kimimaro becomes "Mikuni Jr."
One of their striking similarities is that they both have human-like Assets. The battle in this episode shows that size doesn't matter, quality does. Seeing that Mikuni's Assets are all human-like, then I guess it's safe to assume that the more human-like an Asset is, the more powerful it is. Reminds me of supernatural series dealing with demons/spirits... the powerful ones are those that can appear in human form.
But even if their Assets are human-like, they are still monsters... or at least can't ever be "fully human". And I don't think their human-like physical features make both Kimimaro and Mikuni be compassionate towards their Assets. Regardless of their physical features, those two would have done the same. I mean, those two can't be the only ones with human-like Assets (as seen in the OP), right?. So Kimimaro and Mikuni are simply the rare (or only) Entres who care about their Asset's well-being. I think there's a theory/study/belief/saying which states that a person who treats his assets well have higher chances of becoming successful... and that might be the reason behind the "most successful Entres are those who care" idea in the show.
Mikuni's doing so well right now and there are hints that Kimimaro could become like Mikuni in the future. Mikuni didn't see that as a threat though; he even bothered to meet Kimimaro in person and to
encourage urge the kid to continue fighting. Heck, Mikuni even wants to assist him. Perhaps, despite Mikuni's success, something went wrong... and he doesn't want Kimimaro to walk in the wrong path like he did.. or almost did.
According to a cast interview, Kimimaro's going to be admiring Mikuni like an older brother. It looks like Mikuni's going to be a huge influence on our leading character, starting in this episode. If Kimimaro is finally driven to fight in the financial arena, Mikuni had been the trigger.
Is being normal or average bad?
Whatever the show's answer to that... we'll see in later episodes. The OP theme hints that they'll be rivals/enemies in the end. Perhaps that's a hint that Kimimaro won't end up like Mikuni, despite Mikuni's influence. Maybe Kimimaro's being simple was already the right thing to do.
Anyway, for now they're most likely going to be allies. The character who would most likely be an antagonist for now is the blonde woman, Junipher.
I don't think she likes Mikuni... I can imagine her to be the type who considers Mikuni as her greatest rival whom she aims to defeat one day. She's so focused on him that notices when he does something unusual... and even stalks him?:
Haha! Most likely she will have, or already has, interest on "Mikuni Jr." too.
Back to the battle, Mashu's attack was called a "Mezzoflation". There's no such word, but perhaps it's a combo of "mezzo" and "inflation"? As for her winning move (by the way, it looks like Mashu doesn't know much of her powers either. She was as amazed as Kimimaro when she was finished with her attack.), Scorched Earth, THERE IS such a term, and it's a military strategy.
Military terminology in my anime about money??? I'M INTRIGUED!!!
Like in war though, enemies suffer greatly. In the show's case, the loser goes bankrupt. "All or nothing" has been so literal. That's pretty harsh... I think just losing a lot of money will do, not a flat zero. I pity those minor characters that lost in the duels so far... and too bad for Kimimaro that he's obliged to put his life at risk at least once a week.
Back to Kimimaro's victory, how exactly he won is still vague to me. I mean, does the "1259" in his money disc mean that he had more than 12 million yen in his account? Wasn't he loaned with half a million? Or maybe players are given incentives/bonuses in every start of a duel? And that amounts to 12 million? Well, that's my guess. Hopefully the future episodes will explain how the points system works soon (I think there already is at the official site. It was like a "Midas Manual". Unfortunately, it was in Japanese so... *sigh*).
Oh yeah, it looks like there's something that connects the Financial District to the real world: Midas Money. Earning money in the Financial District is not exactly normal... much less legal. It's illegal in a sense that transactions and earnings in the Financial District didn't exactly take place in the real world. Technically, it's fake money.
I find keikakudoori's counterfeit money analogy very interesting:
Black money - Thinking of an analogy, the black money sounded a lot to me like counterfeit money (either being the case or not). Real money and fake money look similar and sometimes they are easy to tell one from the other. The surprising thing is the organization has managed to passed their money as normal money and make it flow around. Normal people can’t tell they’re using “Midas money” and to them this black money from Midas is real money. Only people who have gone to the exclusive center can tell the place where this black money comes from know.
So if no one notices the change then doesn’t it mean that this money is valid? Assuming I don’t notice a fake bill and I receive it then later proceed to use said bill, then what did I just do? Technically, the process is the same because money comes in and out as quick as we’re willing to spend it giving the no one realizes the mistake. The black money earned (note) can be used and it can be invested in the real world. Opposite to fake money which would be detected and destroyed the money from the organization goes undetected by the rest of the world almost as it is actual money becoming real money according to the rest of the world. The greater question would be the validity of the money and where does it all come from? Seeing that they are not the same it’d heavily implied that is money directly from Midas itself and maybe it has a value equivalent to real money but serving as the currency of the surreal world, which is possibly gotten from the players themselves.
The big question is: Where the hell the Financial District gets their money? Liar Game had an explanation (and I just have to mention that it was the "idiotic/gullible/useless" heroine who figured that out! ;P), and it's not only the winner who gains from the games, but the loaning company as well. I wonder if [C] would be something similar. But then again, the Financial District is a surreal world which defies the laws of physics, and can take something like your future as a collateral. It's a fantasy world, nothing has to be realistic. Money might not even be what they're after. Yeah, it could be hell, literally, but just more colorful.
I am really impressed with this episode and I look forward to other surprises this series has in store for us xD
Masakaki's so creepy... in so many ways! Bwahahahaha! I love it xD