I could definitely see where the degree to which Pet keeps the audience in the dark would be an annoyance for some viewers. It’s not far off being an annoyance for me, honestly. But as confusing as this series is I have to admit, I’m finding it pretty engaging so far. There’s a kind of tidal thing going on, where I feel as if even without understanding much of what’s happening in detail I’m being carried along to a sort of broader understanding of what’s going on. Of course I could be totally kidding myself about that but I suppose time will tell…
That’s not to say the second episode is without a bombshell or two, most specifically regarding our two young espers Hiroki and Tsukasa. They’ve opened up a fish (pets, not meat) shop imaginatively named “Fish & Fish“, which it soon becomes clear is primarily a pacifier (dummy for you Brits) for Hiroki. He’s keen to stop doing jobs for the company and seems to think this is the boys’ ticket to freedom, but Hiroki soon breaks it to him that the store is bought and paid for with company many and they’re still under Katsuragi’s thumb. He does declare that he’ll do the jobs himself, sparing Hiroki from having to – which Hiroki agrees to, provided Tsukasa doesn’t enter anybody’s head with Satoru.
To an even greater extent than it was before, it’s now clear that Hiroki is basically a child in a man’s body. As such he has little grasp for the consequences of his actions – which is a somewhat terrifying prospect given his skill set. If the business actually needed to make money it’d be screwed with him in charge, but it keeps him busy which is the whole point. He manages to wreak havoc with one woman’s life (though in this case he might have done her a favor) with his careless meddling in a fit of pique. It’s only after the fact that he feels remorse over it, but that doesn’t do a whole lot of good.
Meanwhile, Hiroki takes on the next job, which involves (as best as I can tell, this is – I believe intentionally – very confusing) Chinese drug smuggling and human trafficking. Someone from the Chinese consulate is involved, two factions are at war with each other, and an enforcer named Inui is at the heart of it. Inui is the one who’s going to take out the counselor, Zhou, and in order to make that happen Tsukasa has to go on quite an adventures through his peaks and valleys.
To say that Inui has had a messed up life is a pretty big understatement, but all of this seems to be water off Tsukasa’s back. He takes it as he finds and it and does a job, with no seeming moral compunctions about the results. Tsukasa having these abilities is terrifying in a totally different way than Hiroki having them, because he’s all about pre-disposition and detachment, and does them anyway. To call the two of them an odd couple would be another pretty big understatement.
The bombshell, when it comes, is a whopper. Tsukasa is actually the head of the company – or at least this faction of it, and Katsuragi is the one who dances at the end of his strings. Hiroki knows none of this of course, and Tsukasa obviously intends to keep it that way. For the first time we hear the word “pet”, as Tsukasa uses it to refer to Hiroki (who he’s known since they were children), before noting that when you find one like that “you do whatever it takes to keep them”. This world is a nasty one to be sure – even if Pet is abundantly cryptic that much is already clear.
I wouldn’t say I’m sold on this show yet, but it’s genuinely interesting in a way most series simply aren’t. The characters have a layering to them that only good writing can bring out, and as twisted as much of what we see is, there’s still clearly a place for decency here (perhaps Hayashi-san, who’s been in hiding for two years, will bring some back into the mix next week but I wouldn’t buy any green bananas if I were him). This is a confusing story, intentionally so, and often an uncomfortable one. But it’s also one of the more intriguing of the season.
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