Episode 4 – Lucifer and the Cookie Hammer – Anime News Network | Start Classified

To say that this adaptation struggles with its action sequences is like saying that Sisyphus has a bit of trouble getting up the hill so bravely. By all logic, that should spell doom cookie hammer‘s attempts to seriously introduce Hangetsu Shinonome. The man is a martial artist, warrior, and self-proclaimed hero of justice on a show physically unable to communicate nearly anything through action. If any character is undercooked, it’s this guy, and yet this mullet-sporting thingy ends this episode as possibly the most likable and engaging character on the entire show.

Part of that is probably due to the fact that the story’s struggles still feel completely random and superficial. For example, Yuuhi just encounters a golem while walking into the store and has to book him for his life until Shinonome steps in to kick his ass, but since the action only serves a narrative purpose, it consists of three Static frames and a few speedlines don’t do too much damage. It’s still not good, and anyone watching would need even a half-decent cut of the animation, but this is the rare case where the weaker parts of the source material and this production’s inherent flaws mesh to make one another minimize. It doesn’t matter if the fight itself is short and ugly, what matters to the story and characters is that it sets Shinonome’s abilities and attitude as a warrior. Communicating that is ultimately the goal, and while it doesn’t look good to get there, it gets the job done.

That leaves the rest of the episode unrestrained from having to weave her character script into a fight to just let the cast hang out, learn from each other, and deal with some of the underlying tensions. We even get a violent confrontation between Yuuhi and Noi, where the reptile really gives our grumpy hero free rein. Considering how most of Mr. Lizard’s time was spent trying to make himself laugh or react, that’s important since he’s supposed to be Yuuhi’s partner in this fight against the Biscuit Hammer. It’s gratifying to see him lose patience with our supposed heroes and spell out the subtext of their plan to take over the world’s destruction. While Sami’s reasons are still hazy, Yuuhi is clearly going along with it because he either can’t or won’t think of any other options and would rather just embrace the destruction of the world than genuinely deal with his own pain. The catch is that Yuuhi is confident enough to realize this, but decided to double it down anyway. He’s not clueless – he knows what he’s doing, and a stern conversation from any position of authority isn’t likely to persuade him to change his path.

Which makes it hilarious that the most promising positive influence in our leads’ lives is the madman who sleeps on park benches, imitates tokusatsu heroes to show off, and generally acts like a complete dingus when he’s on screen . But through this humble personality, Shinonome manages to slip a little under Yuuhi’s armor, even as he unknowingly positions himself as the guy’s biggest threat. He’s completely outclassed Sami as a fighter even without supernatural power, could pretty easily obliterate Yuuhi without a second thought, but when he’s around it feels like they’re both hanging out with an old friend. His presence even underscores how silly they are with their princess-and-knight gimmick, because at least he is deliberately that he’s not actually a superhero, even though he calls himself one, and embraces how silly that is. So things like Yuuhi kneeling just to talk to Sami are extra funny because they kind of take that Chuuni idea 100% seriously. Shinonome may be a weirdo, but he’s a confident and guileless weirdo who’s honest and unashamed about who he is or what he wants out of life. Our heroes could learn a thing or two from him in that regard.

We also meet the often-absent father of Sami and Hisame in the second half of this episode, which would be odd and abrupt if the character himself was that important. But interestingly, his presence is more about evoking emotions about Sami and Hisame’s family history and reflecting on what “coming of age” really means. Hisame doesn’t necessarily resent her father for his volatile personality, but she admits she can’t respect him and doesn’t want to be the kind of irresponsible adult he seems to be. Shinonome offers a different twist, saying that living according to your passions with no regrets can be a role model of sorts – showing kids that growing up can be filled with hope and joy, rather than being defined by the stress of responsibility.

Both aren’t necessarily wrong – they just represent different lessons that anyone growing up needs to internalize, and it ends the episode on a contemplative note that I really appreciate. Working to destroy Earth, Yuuhi and Sami reject the inevitable fate of growing up, in part because the adults charged with raising them have failed or abandoned that duty. Shinonome and Hisami can’t solve Yuuhi or Sami’s problems — they’re not even really aware of them — but they can provide examples of adults who keep their shit together and are capable of being both dependable and happy.

And for once, it doesn’t feel like I have to dig for any of this. This episode still moves briskly from scene to scene, and there are occasional odd cuts that feel too abrupt, but with a central character and an idea to focus on, the show really feels like she would come together holistically. Hell, there are even some really funny moments, like Shinonome breaking into Yuuhi’s house to get him to watch Magical Girl anime, the purest male bonding experiences possible. Or Shinonome’s canine confidante who feels embarrassed about fetching. It’s not perfect, and there are certainly moments where I’d like to look prettier or flow better, but at least the production doesn’t get in the way of the interesting and likeable parts of the material. That counts as a win for now.

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Lucifer and the cookie hammer is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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