Episode 18: Puzzled

The episode picks up with the race with Team Velshtein. At this point in the series, we've
seen  quite a lot, and looking at last episode, we're moving from an episode that worked so
well. IGPX is all about racing, but it's also about many other aspects. One great aspect of this
episode is the animation. I don't know why, but this episode just seems to have really good
animation, maybe some of the best of the series.
But it's always the little details that make this series. Jan is trying to dodge Andrei's punches
but can't seem to. Then we cut to Cunningham who dodges Takeshi's first punch and then
deals several to him. It goes from there, proving to be one of the most intense races yet.
Cunningham notices that something is wrong with Takeshi, and then he notices. It's so
peculiar to see how Cunningham really identifies with Takeshi, and that is apparent
throughout the race.
Cunningham and Andrei show that they're the best pilots in the league by destroying
Takeshi's and Jan's mechs respectively. As Team Satomi become concerned with a plan, Jan is
upset about his weaknesses on the track. Sir Hamgra notices, and Cunningham explains how
those punches are getting past him. Andrei has been pulling some good moves, but now he has
nothing. So as soon as the pit stop is over, he jets off and Liz and Takeshi follow, along with
Team Velshtein.
This episode explores trust on two levels. Liz and Takeshi have to trust Andrei even though
they have no idea what he's doing. They all switch to Speed mode, and Cunningham takes the
lead. As they race single file, Jesse points out that they won't win if they can't get in front of
him. Then Andrei unleashes his attack. He gets out of formation and spins one leg into Jan
and the other into Dew. The fast impact causes all three mechs to explode.
It appears that they have lost, but Andrei is moving at a fast enough speed to drift into the
line to tie with Velshtein. It's great to tie, but Takeshi doesn't seem so fond of Andrei right
now. And here comes the other level of trust. The IGPX and any sport runs on rules and
regulations. But people will twist the rules of the race just enough to win. That's what Andrei
did, and Team Velshtein isn't happy. Cunningham tells Takeshi how upset he is, and Takeshi
gets the point. I guess nobody else did, but that shows how trust in a lot of things can go
astray, sometimes.
Once again, it's about the details. I don't know why, but the scene of Takeshi furiously playing
Watch World seems good. It might be because Yuri stops in the middle of her sentence and
notices her brother's frustrations. Takeshi has had it rough lately. Takeshi admits the next
morning that he has a lot on his mind. Andrei asks for a little duel. Andrei has been keeping a
keen eye on Takeshi. Takeshi really is off; it was evident during the race when Cunningham
was able to take him out fairly easily. I think Cunningham also trusts that Takeshi will give it
his best, and that's why he was wondering what was wrong with him.
Andrei is trying to help, although Takeshi doesn't seem to realize it. Takeshi shouldn't be
losing, and he can't figure out why. Even Fantine tries to help, and she can she that Takeshi
won't let her in. What's interesting is that Zanak is not trying to help, and Takeshi notices
that he is just being a pain. Zanak talks to Takeshi like he is offering advice, but Takeshi sees
through him. So after all these people not helping, Takeshi seeks a little help.
Takeshi feels like he needs a friend. Here's the one part of the episode I don't like. Takeshi
meets up with River, but River isn't opening up to him at all. I think that's out of character-at
the end of Season 1, we see that River respects Takeshi. Although the respect is still there, it
just seems weird that when Takeshi wants to talk to River, he isn't open, but when River
wants to talk to Takeshi last season, Takeshi is open. Did River forget about that encounter? I
sure didn't. It doesn't hurt the series in the long run, as it could just be more indicative of
Takeshi's character. But it did feel out of place.
It's important to note that Liz has been providing a lot of good quotes, which is a testament to
the writing in that area. "The foolish man worries that he doesn't know others. The wise man
worries that he doesn't know himself". Takeshi is worrying about others, and that's why he
can't fix himself. Mark yells at Takeshi when he is being down on himself. When Miss Satomi
and the others try to fix it, they come short. That's because Andrei is right; Takeshi is the one
who has to take the initiative to change.
That change leads into next episode, but as for this episode, we have a solid mix of everything
that makes this show great. We have character development, animation, music, writing,
directing-it all comes together nicely. A lot of times shows can't pull all that off. This episode
has so few shortcomings, that it easily comes off as a solid episode. And for those looking for a
mix when it comes to plot, the end of the episode ends on a sour note, rather than a happy one.
That also shows a route the show hasn't seen, and it works effectively.
Team Velshtein is ready
for another go at Team
Sir Hamgra wants to win
the race, and losing to an
old friend is not an option.
Mark stands by for Team
Additional Pictures
USA original air date: June 17th, 2006
Japan original air date: February 22nd, 2006
Original Japanese Title:
Puzzle Rings

Accepting Andrei into the team, Team Satomi how has to fight a
hard opponent-Team Velshtein. Andrei has experience, but also old
age. Can he pull a few tricks from his sleeve to win this race? Or
will the old timer crash and burn out on the track? Meanwhile,
Takeshi has a lot to think about this season. A lot has happened in
a small time. Can he overcome his problems and help team Satomi
this season? This episode features the first race with Andrei
Rublev. It also features another player in Takeshi's game, Watch
OVERALL SCORE: 8 out of 10
Toonami Version Differences

-About 10 seconds was cut from the scene at the
restaurant with Takeshi, Fantine and later Zanak.

-About 15 seconds was cut from the conversation
between Takeshi and River; mostly lines spoken by
Additional Information