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Kaiju No. 8: “Welcome to the Defense Force” (S1E8) Pits Kafka Against His Superior Officer

© JAKDF 3rd Division © Naoya Matsumoto/SHUEISHA

What happens when Kafka’s kaiju alter ego goes up against one of the highest-ranking members of the Anti-Kaiju Defense Force? Last week’s episode of Kaiju No. 8 teased a confrontation between Vice-Captain Hoshina and Kafka that would answer that question, but it ended right there. We had to wait another week to see how their fight played out (or if there even was one!), and now, with “Welcome to the Defense Force,” we finally get to watch these two powerhouses go toe to toe. And let me tell you, it does not disappoint.

While Kafka obviously tries his best to hold back, the vice-captain gives it his all. He shows off some really impressive moves, and a few of his attacks barely even seem human. We knew this guy was a good kaiju fighter, but I don’t think anybody expected him to be quite this formidable. He’s just as skilled at close-quarters combat as Kafka’s childhood friend Mina is at longer-range attacks, and watching him practice his deadly craft is a real feast for the eyes.

However, he’s fighting the most powerful monster Kaiju No. 8 has given us so far (not to mention the title character!), so it’s not a spoiler to say that he doesn’t quite accomplish his mission. Kafka is pretty tough to kill in his monster form, and he manages to make it out alive despite taking some shots that would’ve destroyed a lesser kaiju. It’s just a great fight all around, and it gives both of its high-powered combatants plenty of time to shine.

Vice-Captain Hoshina ready to strike
© JAKDF 3rd Division © Naoya Matsumoto/SHUEISHA

But beyond looking really cool, possibly the best thing about this confrontation is the way it subtly moves the story of Kaiju No. 8 forward. See, the most impressive thing Kafka does is get away without hurting his superior officer, and that lack of killer instinct gives the vice-captain some food for thought later in the episode. It makes the guy think there’s something different and almost human about this particular creature, and I’m sure that feeling is going to play a role in the Defense Force’s eventual discovery of the kaiju’s real identity.

Once that skirmish is over, “Welcome to the Defense Force” shows Kafka and his teammates celebrating their first successful mission, and to be frank, I wasn’t a huge fan of this middle section. The petty squabbles among these soldiers are very reminiscent of “Joining Up!,” the only installment of Kaiju No. 8 I didn’t enjoy, so I found myself starting to check out a bit.

But thankfully, “Welcome to the Defense Force” gets back on track well before the credits begin to roll. As the name of this episode suggests, we soon learn that Kafka has finally earned the rank of officer, so he’s now a full-fledged member of the team. That news makes for a surprisingly touching moment of solidarity among Kafka and his comrades, and if you’ve been following the series since the beginning, seeing these characters put their differences aside, even for just a brief moment, will almost certainly put a big smile on your face.

Kafka's kaiju form
© JAKDF 3rd Division © Naoya Matsumoto/SHUEISHA

After all that, the episode ends with two big hints of what’s to come. First, Kafka happens upon Hoshina practicing for his next fight with the kaiju that got away, and it seems like the vice-captain is going to go even harder next time. Despite what we thought, he apparently wasn’t giving it his all the first time, so this guy is sure to have even more deadly tricks up his sleeve when he encounters Kafka’s monstrous alter ego again.

Secondly, and even more intriguing, the episode ends with a brief glimpse of some new creatures we haven’t seen before, and these kaiju look like they’re not playing around. They’re almost certainly going to give the Defense Force some serious problems, and one of them even seems like he might be on the level of Kafka and the mysterious humanoid monster who almost killed Ichikawa and Iharu last week. I’m really excited to learn more about them and their role in the overarching story of Kaiju No. 8, and I’m willing to bet they’ll be front and center in next week’s installment.

Kaiju No. 8 premiered its first episode on Crunchyroll on April 13, and the streaming service is set to roll out new episodes every Saturday.

Written by JP Nunez

JP Nunez is a lifelong movie fan, and his favorite genres are horror, superheroes, and giant monsters.

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