Tarou has assembled the nuDonbros for some special training in order to ensure their now-large group has good teamwork. However, Haruka announces that her one-shot manga has been approved for serialization. Editor Sonoza is so happy for her. The two of them hurry and leave to prepare for the next chapters.
Tsuyoshi excuses himself to finish packing as he is moving out of his apartment. Tsubasa follows, wanting to speak with him. Sononi follows Tsubasa.
Shinichi thinks this is a great day for a haiku. So he walks away, leaving only Tarou, Jirou and Sonoi. Just then, Sonoroku appear and want another opportunity to finish them off after they reviewed their embarrassing showing last time. TarJiSon henshin and then uphenshin in order to take on Sonoroku, even offering to be blindfolded. But Sonoroku end up running away.
After they’ve gone, Jirou introduces himself to Sonoi who recognizes that he seems like a changed man.
Tarou and Jirou head to a nearby playground. Tarou points out that he’s also noticed Jirou’s change, like he’s become a “normal” person. Tarou ensures Jirou that it is a compliment and that Jirou being “normal” is actually even scarier.
Jirou says that if he’s changed at all, it is because of Tarou. Jirou has always looked up to Tarou-san and he believes Tarou has helped him get over Rumi and his illusion friends.
Tarou, however, points out that he recognized Terasaki’s cooking from the meal that was supposedly from Rumi that one time. Knowing Jirou probably cooked the soup, Tarou says he must have unconsciously picked up his adoptive father’s cooking.
Anyway, Jirou asks what Tarou thinks of the new him and whether or not he can beat him. Sonoi joins in and says he is also curious about that, reminding Tarou that they still have an honorable score to settle. Tarou says he doesn’t think he cares about any of that anymore. Sonoi and Jirou think that’s weird coming from him.
Meanwhile at his office, Tsuyoshi hands in his resignation letter. But his boss can’t bear to see him leave. The boss cries as he hugs Tsuyoshi. Downstairs, Tsuyoshi runs into Tsubasa who asks if they can talk for a little while. They head to a café with Natsumi.
Tsubasa says he wanted Tsuyoshi to meet Natsumi in order to help him get over Miho and become a kind person again. Tsuyoshi says he understands what happened, but it is not easy to just move on. Sononi watches from the next table over and is fawning over how kind Tsubasa really is.
Just then, a cop spots Tsubasa. Tsubasa reaches his hand out to Natsumi, but she doesn’t take it, much to everyone’s shock. The police chase Tsubasa and Sononi comes to his rescue. She shoots burning arrows at the cop cars, driving them away. But Tsubasa says that is going too far.
Meanwhile, Natsumi asks to speak with Tsuyoshi more. They head to the Kijino apartment. Tsuyoshi tries to hide his wedding photos with Miho. He says he is just trying to get over the dream he had with the fake Miho. But Natsumi says she also experienced the same dream while in the forest. She remembers all the happy memories of Tsuyoshi and Miho together.
An emotional Natsumi suddenly hugs Tsuyoshi, but catches herself and runs out the door.
Over at Donbura, Haruka and Sonoza are working on the manga when Master Kaito wants their help in planning something special.
On the other side of town, Sonoroku target Minoru since he is the one human who has repeatedly turned into a Hitotsuki. They shoot some of their energy arrows at him and he does become a Hitotsuki. But he refuses to take orders from them and swats each of Sonoroku away.
Sonoroku get away, but they have a plan. They welcome the nuDonbros to the oden cart to propose they work together against the common enemy of the Hitotsuki.
Tarou initially says he does not accept food from people he does not know. But the others remind him that Sonoroku are their enemies they’ve been fighting.
While eating, the Hitotsuki arrives and the nuDonbros and Sonoroku all henshin to take him on.
The Hitotsuki duplicates himself and the Donbros must fight five Hitotsukis. Watching from a nearby rooftop are two mysterious, hooded figures.
When the Donbros are having a bit of trouble, Tarou uses his skills and power to destroy all the Hitotsukis. Minoru returns home to his mother and promises he’s really done with his kingly ambitions.
Meanwhile, Tarou arrives at Donbura where the others have thrown him a surprise party. Tarou says his birthday is still a long way away. Master Kaito had told them it was today and wanted them to prepare something. But even if it isn’t Tarou’s birthday, they might as well celebrate anyway.
They let Tarou sit and begin singing happy birthday to him as they present him his cake. Tarou remembers his lonely birthday parties with just him and Papa Jin.
After Tarou blows out his candles, his fellow Donbros gift him a pillow with all their helmet logos. The Noto3 gift Tarou with a pair of nice chopsticks. Tarou thanks them all.
Haruka asks Tarou if he ever got the answer to the question about what makes someone happy. He says yes, but hesitates to say. Haruka jumps in to say that them being all together is what makes him a happy person. Tarou tries to deny it, but the truth is revealed when he drops dead. He really does love spending time with them all!
Well that was a wonderful episode. Like last week, I feel like this episode should’ve come much sooner than the penultimate episode. It certainly didn’t feel like the penultimate episode. But it was a very Donbrothers episode. And I think that’s much more important.
Of course, I wish the episode had come earlier because I really do think they could’ve done a lot more with the plot threads they pretty much wrapped up this episode.
Haruka getting her serialization deal is fine at this point because her journey to get here has probably had the steadiest pace of any of the other characters’ plots. And especially with the Shiina Naoki aspect of her story having gotten the spotlight a couple of episodes back, her being able to get back to work as a mangaka and Sonoza being a proud and accomplished editor finally works very well here.
With Jirou, I really wish we got more of his coming to terms with growing up in an illusion and then coming to terms with his whole self. It would’ve been a very meaningful story and a great character-driven one at that. Seeing him be “normal,” as they put it, would’ve been even more impactful had we seen more of his emotional struggle. Even if for one or two episodes.
With the love square, I absolutely get it. I wondered how they’d be able to make everyone happy. And the only way would be to have Natsumiho end up with Tsuyoshi and Tsubasa with Sononi. I think the radical move would’ve been to keep Tsuyoshi single and Sononi a sort of comic relief character pining for Tsubasa forever.
But the logical move would be what they were setting up here. The idea that Natsumi has the memories/dream of the Juto Miho, thus actually retaining the feelings for Tsuyoshi makes sense. Both in the Donbrosverse as well as in soapy terms too. I mean, this whole plot has been one great soapy mess. (And that’s a good thing!) So the idea that one might fall in love with someone else after distance or time apart is as soap opera as you can get. And I think it works here.
The moment Natsumi refused to take Tsubasa’s hand to run away was really a *gasp* moment for me. It made the possibility of a Tsubasa/Sononi endgame very real and I was excited. The show did a good job here of kinda ensuring the foundation was solid for what I think they’ll be doing next week for these four characters.
Just like Natsumi might have fallen out of love for Tsubasa, so too Tsubasa for her. And we’ve already seen Tsubasa’s sincerity toward Sononi. Which is why her lying to him hit harder than it would’ve otherwise.
There’s so much material here for more episodes. I can’t remember any other season I’ve watched so far that had this great of a foundation for some truly soapy, interpersonal drama between the main characters. So many different directions to go in. So many potential opportunities for great drama that could easily be tied in to the overall arc of the season. But all ended up pretty rushed in the end. It’s too bad, but like I’ve also mentioned in the last couple of weeks, it all still feels very satisfying. Even with some regrets.
Finally, Tarou’s early birthday party was great. I mean, I don’t know where they’re going with his apparent shift in personality or a potential memory loss. But putting those things aside for next week, I thought the final scene was just great.
One of my favorite episodes this season is still Episode 5 and Tsubasa’s birthday. For one reason, it was one of, if not the first time all five Donbros were together in one place. But second, I think it was the episode that really solidified the season as one that would be different than the others. Just that unexpected character-driven episode. The action and fight scenes were really an afterthought in that episode. And it was all just about the characters and their emerging relationships. I probably knew and accepted back then, even if just subconsciously, that this season would be less about some grand endgame and more about these nice little moments between characters you would grow to love. The first(?) slice of life Sentai season?
And so bringing everything full circle with the gang all gathered together to celebrate their friend while reminding us about Tarou’s lonely childhood really just hit the mark and landed the punch and every analogy you can think of.
I think part of it also helps to set-up whatever is coming in the finale. But as a simple character moment, it was a good way to highlight how much Tarou has changed and grown throughout the season as well.
Having him die to confirm he true feelings for his new friends was a lot of fun and amusing in the most Donbrothers way possible.
Though our Final Boss(es?) are only now popping up into existence, I don’t think that’s a bad thing at all. I’ll probably talk more about it in my season wrap-up, but even if the season does have its overall arc, its best parts will always be about the characters themselves. And that is very refreshing.
Only one more episode of Donbrothers left! 😢 I will miss the Donbros very much.