And finally, the gang’s altogether.
My initial assumption when I saw the title of this episode was that this was the episode that was going to shed more light on Darcia’s character, the mysterious Noble introduced last episode as a point of intrigue. This only shows how much my memory of the series had faded, as it didn’t take long to realize that the “Bad Fellow” in question was Tsume, as the episode focused on his character’s nature more than the rest. Though this being Wolf’s Rain, nobody introduced thus far was giving the shaft, everyone got their own moments and progression themselves. I’ve stated last time that show’s most impressive attribute was it’s ability to juggle its large cast of characters, and that’s certainly became my favorite element of the show thus far in my re-watch, sans maybe the music.
The episode resumes immediately where the last one left off, with Kiba and Hige encountering Darcia with Cheza in tow. There’s a brief conversation between Darcia and the wolves, establishing firmly that Darcia knows about Paradise and that his goal is the same before Cheza releases a piercing howl of her own which clearly resonates with each wolf. Her sound most clearly impacts Hige and Toboe, who both clutched their hands to their ears in response. Tsume and Kiba’s reaction are a bit different, Kiba himself betrays his stoic expressions at the beginning but quickly resolves to chase after her by the ending. Tsume on the other hand is only visibly affected through the body language in his eyes, instead directing his reaction towards angry at Toboe’s own reaction. Yelling at him to shut up. This presents us with the first insight into Tsume’s character we get in this episode, though it’s one that’s been present from the beginning.
Tsume himself is not a very truthful wolf. Toboe himself makes this very accusation, questioning why Tsume can’t be honest with himself in a fight that leads to the two parting ways. Tsume claimed that the noise that had upset Toboe so much originated from some machine, a clear denial of the truth. Similar to Tsume’s constant assertion towards his lack of friendship, his actions clearly betray his words as the last episodes have demonstrated. The thing is, Tsume’s lies aren’t presented as him just being some callous jerk but instead as denials of his own truthful feelings. He’s trying to convince himself of his own detachment from others, from Cheza, from his rogue of thieves, and from the wolves he finds himself journeying with at the end. This is most obvious in the closing moments of the episode, where his inner-monologue justifies his departure as just simply being tired of the city he resided as opposed to actually being interested in Paradise or the others.
As I’ve previously mentioned, the episode wasn’t just dedicated to cementing Tsume’s mentality but it also provided a lot of great moments for the rest of the cast. Most obviously in this case was Hubb’s continued investigation into the wolves. Through his conversations with Quent, he discovers about the Book of the Moon, a banned ancient pagan book citing that humans were created from wolves. While visiting Cher at a hospital, with the diagnosis being she collapsed from overwork, Hubb questions if she’s ever heard about the book. She had, and her reaction to Hubb mentioning the creation claims seems to trigger the truth of her collapse. The implication being that Darcia’s wolf eye presented Cher with a different perception of the events, with the real ones being revived through her discussion with Hubb. This all leads to a quick scene near the conclusion of the episode, where we witness Cher looking through the Book of the Moon (though not explicitly confirmed, there’s no way it’s anything else). What I love most about this scene is that Hubb’s tacky gift is present in the scene, peaking through the top of the drawer she through in it. A visual representation of their relationship, it’s not the focal point of Cher’s attention but it’s always on the periphery.
That’s not the only highlight when it comes to visuals either. While the attention to detail and symbolizing in the aforementioned scene might make it my favorite, there are plenty of great visual moments all throughout. This includes continuation of tricks we’ve seen before, the way they constantly highlight that the human form is simply an illusion, whether it be casting their shadows as wolves or displaying their foot-prints as paw-prints in the snow. There’s also a really cool scene transition that hints to something more. When Darcia departs with Cheza through space-ship, we see it as a light traveling through the sky followed by a reveal that Quent’s dog Blue is watching. I also love that the one word we get before we transition to Quent and Hubb’s dialogue, is Quent stating “Look”, as if to signal something important. Visual call backs like the replication of Tsume’s failed rescue of Gehl, although this time with a different result, provide the first three episode with sense of story-book closure while engraving a distinction in Tsume’s relationship with Toboe from Gehl. One that also highlights the importance of understanding, Gehl’s death was caused in large part due to the shock of Tsume not being human, the shift of a hand extending to you altering to a wolf sinking its teeth into you. This experience is even repeated with Toboe and Leara albeit without deadly consequences, as Leara’s reaction to learning about Toboe’s wolf nature causes an irreparable rift between them.
There’s so much to dissect here that I’ve barely discussed Kiba and Hige. As per usual, one of my favorite moments of the episodes comes from their exchange, in this case their sewer conversation about Darcia. What I love about this discussion is how it further distinguishes the mentality of both characters. It’s almost like they’re having entirely different conversations at first, Hige is looking towards different paths on the future, suggesting they leave the town and look for other clues in order to head to Paradise. Kiba on the other hand is focused in on Darcia, basically ignoring all of Hige’s words until Hige directly responds to Kiba’s intentions but stating he has no interest in tangling with a Noble. As such of a sequence as Hubb’s declaration that he and Cher should go out and celebrate her recovery on the anniversary of their divorce (I love that Hubb’s feelings for Cher are strong enough that he’ll seemingly celebrate any milestone moment in their relationship) but both of them rank among my favorite moments in the episode. Joined by one more elite scene in this episode, the formation of the group.
Kiba and Hige run into Toboe, who had recently succeeded in scaring off the crows showing his growth from his interactions with Tsume already, after Hige takes a wrong turn at Albuquerque. When Toboe learns they plan on journeying to Paradise, his mind drifts to Tsume and suggests taking him along for the ride. They crew manage to find Tsume by following his battle wounds from his fight with Blue earlier in the episode, and the entire scene that follows is masterful. I love the more confrontational words from Tsume and the more calm responses from Kiba. The script here is particularly great. Particular note goes to the dub here too, which I think I like the structure better there. I’ve been finding it hard not to compare the script between the sub and the dub while re-watching the series and more often or not, I do think I’ve preferred the wording in the subs. But the dub’s “If life has no purpose, you’re dead already” is iconic to me and I just think it meshes better than the more simple syntax “It’s better than living with no purpose.” I also like how Tsume’s words are a little more aggressive here. Admittedly this detour isn’t really necessary, both scripts are great and there are lines I prefer from both version and this whole scene is great regardless but I just wanted to deliver some praise to one of the few dubs I think truly deserves it.
Moving on from that tangent, I just want to state I well the music fully encapsulates the mood of the scene. I just love how that violin track (I’m not a music critic, okay?) meshes with the tone when Kiba is explaining the driving factor of their reason for being in this city all while getting facial shots of the characters with dour expressions plastered on their faces. Tsume claims that he’s in the city because he belongs, something that once again I’m sure is something he’s convincing himself is true when it actuality Kiba’s spot-on. Regardless, one things true, Tsume isn’t able to live with the humans like Toboe laments. He’s been ratted out by his former compatriots and made to be public enemy number one in the city. As a whole, “Bad Fellow” did a lot to paint a divide between wolves and human, with the further deterioration of Tsume and Toboe’s individual relationships with humans but at the same time drew an interesting connection between the two species with the claim that man cam from wolf. With two distinct set of main characters, of both human and wolf, it’ll definitely be interesting to see how this plays out. And as someone who knows where we’re heading, even though I don’t remember all the bumps and turns all the road, I can confidently state I can’t wait to re-experience the ride. “Bad Fellow” was not only the best episode thus far, but serves as a conclusion to the preamble of the series.