I like it, too, less for the interpersonal drama and more for the political tangle, with Japan a wholly-owned subsidiary of Atlas Corporation, and Ishida Finance nibbling at the edges, different factions at work within Atlas itself, and Metal Age (or at least Nagiko) pulling at the knotted strands of the Atlas Corporation, too.
I can sympathize with Hanners’ complaints — there are a lot of strands running through this show; but, like PSGels, I’m happy with how they’re braiding them together. I am growing increasingly interested in the novels that this series adapts — I can imagine quite a few favorite books that might look this chaotic (but promising) at this point in an anime adaptation, so I’m willing to be patient.
The central portion of this episode was divided between the sack of Kuwait and hinting at Kusanagi’s heretofore hidden significance.
Annoyed at the competition, Karin decides to leverage the assets of the Japanese government to tinker with Kuwait’s balance of carbon payments, drawing the Serpent into the market, exposing them enough to be able to track down their data-stream. Atlas, informed by spies in the Japanese government (it may be that the Japanese government is essentially a subsidiary of Atlas at this point) is watching, too, as are Kuniko and her grand-mother, aware of a ripple in the market force, the bank-balances of a million souls crying out.
Kuwait ends up bankrupt (think of poor Iceland’s financial troubles), their remaining assets in hock to some outsider — and don’t think the post-CO2 economy has no use for Kuwaiti oil, it’s still a good raw material for plastics, after all. Karin has an idea that Serpent is a shell-corporation based in a Pacific island chain, but Kuniko’s preternatural adaptation to reading the flow of her grandmother’s data-wrangling allows her to pinpoint the location exactly.
Kuniko, it seems, is Nagiko’s Medusa.
Somehow, Kuniko’s intuitive leap finds its way to Atlas, who decide to leverage some American assets to wipe out the shell corporation and much of the surrounding island — with an expenditure of CO2 that sends the value of the dollar plummeting.
It has all the tension and drama of a dog-fight, with dialogue that would fit on the bridge of a starship — dialogue that reveals a good deal about the speakers (Nagiko, Kuniko, Ryouko, and Karin, in this case), and hints at factions and hidden interactions within Atlas and the other parties in the show.
And that’s just the Kuniko part of the story.
I have a theory that Hiruko is Ryouko’s version of Medusa, but that will have to wait for another time.