After arguably taking rather too long to build up this storyline in its last episode, part eight of Nabari no Ou takes us to the real heat of the assassination attempt on the evil Mr. Frosty (he of the bad American accent), and does so in pretty compelling fashion.
While episode eight is anything but non-stop action, with any actual fighting limited to bursts here and there between dialogue (which makes you wonder if all these ninja training schools you see in anime shouldn't just be replaced with schools specialising in English or Japanese), it does open up an excellent if slightly complicated scenario where nothing is quite what it seems. For starters, we find out the real reason why Oda wants to see Mr. Frosty killed, a scenario which is far more personal than the simple business and humanitarian proposition it was dressed up as.
Moving to the actual assassination attempt itself, Yoite and Rokujo's relationship means that things go far from smoothly (and indeed become rather chaotic) for the Banten ninjas, Kairoshuu and particularly Yoite, while Aizawa surprises everyone with his actions to bring things to a conclusion. Never mind Rokujo himself and his constantly hidden feelings, it appears that the rest of the major characters also still have plenty left to be revealed about their own pasts and lives. Even after all this, there's still time for the episode to close with yet further double-crossing and surprises for everyone involved.
While this might sound confusing when condensed and cast into this spoiler-free environment, it's actually played off excellently within the body of the episode itself, with everything flowing freely and in a logical manner that defies what may look chaotic in the first instance. The reasoning behind the entire assassination request may be a little contrived, but it at least brought some personal feeling to what otherwise would have been a game of 'kill the generic bad guy'.
Overall, my faith has again been restored by this episode of Nabari no Ou - But can it actually keep the momentum this time? I'm truly delighting in the complicated world (both 'real' and ninja) portrayed in the show, where nothing is clear-cut and straightforward (a far cry from Naruto and its ilk) and the characters are hinting at a complexity we can't yet begin to guess at. When it comes to these crunch episodes the series is very much polished and immensely watchable... If it can just drop the habit of slow down to a turtle's pace at times trying to over-explain things that don't really need so much effort, then we could have a real winner on our hands.