The Roshigumi hosted sumo matches go over very well with the locals, at least, until Serizawa burns down another business. Although there was evidence found that the business owner was trading with the foreigners, all the townspeople remember the fire. The Aizu domain gives the order to Hijikata and Kondou to deal with Serizawa before he tarnishes the Aizu name. Meanwhile, the experimentation on the furies continues, and the powder used to suppress the bloodlust seems to be working. When the Roshigumi are called in to protect the gates, they are rejected by the other domains until Serizawa steps in. Later, Serizawa starts exhibiting signs of illness.
Acknowledgement at last for the Roshigumi! The sumo wrestling matches are very popular with the locals, and this was supposed to improve the image of the Roshigumi in their eyes. The problem, once again, seems to Serizawa and his over the top antics. No matter how hard the Roshigumi try on their patrols and demonstrations, Serizawa is the only one that can ruin it all. Whether it’s going crazy while drunk or burning down another business in a fit of rage, there seems to be no stopping this cyclone of destruction.
Despite all this, the writers insist on humanizing Serizawa, which is why this show is still interesting after so many episodes of Serizawa-being-an-asshole. There seems to be all these surprising things about him- while he is very much the antagonist, he also still in the Roshigumi for a good reason. Sure he’s a drunk, and kills people for the hell of it, but he does get the job done effectively when called upon.
What was weird was the part where the Roshigumi were waiting for orders to protect the palace gates, and everyone was battle-ready…except for Serizawa. He outright refuses the Roshigumi colours to wear until they actually have to move out. While the others choose the seiza sitting position, he opts to lie down. Shows how much he cares about tradition and decorum.
The surprising part was that he let that woman stay because she had nowhere else to go. OK, maybe he was asking for “compensation” in exchange for accommodations (it’s never stated), but he’s a strangely kind person. I’m not really sure what to take of this “kind” Serizawa…but I guess this is a step back from Evil on a scale of 11 to an 8.
When the Roshigumi arrive, the other domains and groups refuse to let them help. The tension is resolves when Serizawa breaks it down by the way he knows best, which is with violence. Although he doesn’t kill anyone, he really does make a big enough splash to cause something to be resolved. You have to remember he has a BIG personality, and there’s no denying why he was leader in the first place.
Foolish warrior pride was deemed by Serizawa to be the fatal flaw in the Roshigumi. He mentions this specifically about Hijikata and Kondou, and I believe his observations are correct. The Roshigumi are a dying breed of men in a turbulent time, where honour and dignity count for very little.