Episodes 6-7 – Tribe Nine

How would you rate episode 6 of
Tribe Nine ? Community score: 3.6

How would you rate episode 7 of
Tribe Nine ? Community score: 3.2

Tribe Nine is, as the kids say, back on its bullshit, and has been for the past fortnight. It all starts with episode 6, “A Man’s Pride” and antagonist Ojiro’s reappareance in the series.

Adachi Tribe invades crashes into Chiyoda City, which is where Ojiro resides. Immediately, he’s ordered to protect the Otori family’s status, which means it’s time for some XB antics and genuine murderball. Oh yeah, and the Minato Tribe’s on their way to help out or something. Anyways.

The game between Otori and the Adachi Tribe is… a wash. Otori basically murders the entire crew, including its pompadour-wearing leader, who bleeds out on the pavement after Otori messily ends him with a single baseball punch. It’s the most compelling part of the episode, which doesn’t bode well since we are just halfway through this series and there are so many more episodes to go. And like, this show has no excuse: it’s set in one of the coolest settings of the season with a heck of a lot of potential. And yet it just hasn’t really utilized it well since Shun bit the baseball diamond dust.

By the time we reach episode 7, “Tribe-Packed XB Tourney,” things have gotten even dire in the worst of ways. We start with Haru being targeted for his beam bat. It’s a plot-of-the-week that could be compelling and grow his character past “kid who’s incredibly anxious”, but instead we get slapstick jokes, partial nudity, sexual harrassment (though Arisuga gets her revenge very quickly), and honestly not much else outside of the tourney the crew joins. It’s ironic because one character even says, “We haven’t done anything exciting in a while,” which made me fall off my chair because like yeah, the show hasn’t.

You know what, scratch that: this episode taught me the phrase “fine ass-istant,” which laid me out. I don’t know why—maybe the sight of plump rich tourney host Todoroki Eiji sitting on a chair made of gold bricks and having a household of bikini-clad women who have different jiggle sound effects shattered something precious inside me. Sexist though Todoroki may be, that line was funny because it’s so outlandish that I think I’ve just forgotten what humor could be.

Also, update: the Adachi Tribe didn’t get killed. They just got a serious beatdown, and are back in action for episode 7.

From there, you can kinda guess how things will go: the plot splits into Minato Tribe antics, though Kazuki breaks off for a bit of espionage that leaves more questions than I care to ever get answers to, to be honest. That said, it definitely raises a lot of suspicion about our blue-haired character (I’d wager he’s behind the ending to episode 7, even if he denies it), though like I said, it doesn’t change the fact that he is about as exciting as unseasoned chicken broth.

At one point, a character says, “Thinking can’t solve a surprising number of things,” and if that doesn’t say something about this series, then… well, what does? It’s kind of the perfect way to sum up where the series stands right now. And it’s a shame because Tribe Nine has a lot of tidbits that I like: there’s a push-and-pull between the characters that could have grown into something compelling if the tension had been built up a bit more early on. There’s some fascinating worldbuilding inherent in a cyberpunk version of Tokyo ruled by brutality and an almost Mad MaxEsque sport. But the execution of it all continues to fall flat more often than not: there’s just not enough meat on the bone to make this series engaging, even though I’m desperate to like it so, so much.

Ultimately, the experience of watching Tribe Nine is one of intense whiplash. Some episodes, the hype is real, but there are also times when I have to bride myself with snacks to focus on the screen. Episodes 6 and 7 are a mix: the action has this certain flow state that’s really fun to sink into once it’s gets going, but when it slows down—or when we’re spending time with the cast, really—all you’re left with are outlandish character costumes and a pretty baller soundtrack. And thank the baseball gods for the music, because at times it’s all that’s keeping me here.

(Also, the mountain of over-easy eggs in episode 6? Yeah, that almost made me quit this show. I can’t stand those jiggly suckers!)

I still don’t know what the resolution of Tribe Nine will be, even though we’re entering the final stretch. I’m half hoping for Kamiya Shun to come back in a blaze of fiery extreme baseball glory, bat in hand, to upend the larger plot. For now, I’ll settle into this series’ weird slip ‘n slide of mediocrity: it’s not horrible and still has the potential to wow me in the end. And for that I’m thankful, to say the least.

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Tribe Nine is currently streaming on Funimation.

Mercedez is a JP-EN translation and localization Editor & Proofreader/QA, pop culture, and a journalist who, when not writing for ANN, writes critics for Anime Feminist, where she’s a staff editor. She’s also a frequent cohost on the Anime Feminist Podcast, Chatty AF. This season, she’s reflecting on her youth with Akebi’s Sailor Uniform. When she’s not writing and reviewing, you can find her on her Twitter or on her Instagram where she’s always up to something.

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