Well, I figured it had to happen eventually. Takemichi’s gone far too long without making a bad mistake, and even with Chifuyu’s help, there’s only so much one can do to stem the tide of our hero’s poor decisions. This time, however, he may have just made the biggest mistake in either of his lifetimes.
Funnily enough, that mistake isn’t that he decides to work with Kisaki on this whole Christmas assassination plot. In fact, Takemichi makes a pretty solid argument for why this is a good idea: Taiju may be the immediate enemy, but stopping Kisaki’s machinations is the ultimate goal of this whole story. Working with him is a chance to either earn his trust or learn crucial information that might help them stop whatever he’s got planned. The fact that Kisaki proposed it makes the whole team-up suspect – I trust this dude about as far as Takemichi could throw him – but there’s a compelling risk/reward tension that makes the whole thing dramatically compelling.
Though as it turns out, if all he wanted was information on Kisaki, Takemichi could have just bothered talking to his girlfriend. The reveal that Kisaki had a connection with both Takemichi and Hina is surprising, but also makes sense. If Kisaki was obsessed enough to assassinate both of them in the future, there had to have been a motivation outside of Toman. More pertinent, however, is Hina’s insistence that Kisaki was an alright kid. Takemichi can’t really believe it, and we already know Kisaki’s down for arranging murders, but it begs the question of what “stopping” Kisaki in the past might mean. We’ve seen, time and time again, how the power and violence of the underworld can make decent guys into their worst selves – is it possible that stopping Kisaki might involve getting him out of that world, rather than merely thwarting his plans?
It’s an interesting thought, though not one that Takemichi has much time for. He’s too busy making the biggest mistake of his life, and I’m of two minds on it all. On the one hand, it’s in character for Takemichi to make a dumb decision out of a desire to protect Hina, and he certainly has reason to worry about her getting caught up in the violence of Toman. So breaking up with her is certainly a believable decision from him. I’m not one to demand characters make the most optimal or “right” choice in every conflict, and I’m certainly no stranger to seeing Takemichi fumble ass-over-tea-kettle through things.
On the other hand, Hina is a criminally underdeveloped character with a lot of potential as more than just somebody for Takemichi to protect (just look at how quickly she threw hands!), and seeing her sidelined is really frustrating. Not to mention how Takemichi is just repeating the mistakes of the past even though he knows breaking up didn’t save Hina in the previous timeline. If he really wants to keep her safe, wouldn’t a better option be to, I dunno, tell her the truth? I don’t even mean telling her about being from the future—just being honest about wanting to keep her from getting involved in all this impending gang warfare would go a long way to show that Takemichi has some kind of trust in her. Instead he makes a half-assed excuse and gets his face beat into salsa for it, and by god is it deserved.
Maybe that’s the point of this, and the story arc will resolve with Takemichi actually trusting the person he loves enough to be truthful with her. But right now it’s an aggravating backslide that the story’s trying to convince me is a tragic, necessary sacrifice for our hero. I don’t buy it, but at the very least it’s drama that keeps this episode and story moving.