Episode 9, "Initiate! Operation: Invade Japan!"
Synopsis: Kouji becomes increasingly irritable as he adjusts to the Mazinger, frustrated by the Robot Corps holding him back from gaining his revenge on Baron Ashura. While Akokuji and Shiro relax at the Kurogane House, Tsubasa gives Kouji a seemingly simple test, which proves impossibly difficult for him. Meanwhile, eager to prove his/herself, Ashura takes the subfortress Saluud and releases Mechanical Beasts all over Japan.
I guess after several episodes of non-stop action, it was time to take a small breather, and the bulk of the episode spends its time establishing the names and roles of Tsubasa's group while Kouji and Ashura have temper tantrums for being scolded by mommy and daddy. Honestly, what are we going to do with these kids? And by kids, I mean a hotblooded teen boy who pilots a giant superweapon and a half man, half women from ancient Greece who wants to kill everyone. Kids these days!
There was a good amount of humor in this episode, especially with how the experts at the Kurogane House approach their jobs, happily doing domestic tasks despite being trained killers. There's Kouji's test to touch the back of Tsubasa's "sister", the severely aged woman who appears to serve customers at the resort and his difficulty with it. I especially like the gun expert who picks people up to "escort" them to the house. Really, it's these characters that make the show. You almost don't need the giant robot element at all.
Ashura's sure going at things with guns blazing. I mean, he/she's just attacking everywhere in Japan to draw out Mazinger, but it's a stupid strategy, given the precision with which Tsubasa and her group helped Kouji defeat him/her in the past. I mean, if it were this easy to begin with, Dr. Hell would have already done it, wouldn't he? I have a feeling Ashura is in for more punishment, no matter what measure of success he/she has. Then again, Kouji is the type to act brashly in the face of a challenge.
Anyway, I'm all for more Kurogane House antics next week, but they should start moving the plot along pretty soon.
3.5 out of 5 (because of Tsubasa and her crew)