Saturday, December 6, 2008

Sushi Pack - An Ode to Oleander

Can I say how much I love Oleander?  Because seriously, next to Titanium Chef, she's my favorite villain.  Probably because she isn't really a villain at all.  Oh, sure, to the Sushi Pack she is, and she occasionally teams up with the bad guys to get at the Sushi Pack, but only because she wants to eat them.  Obviously, she can't ever succeed, because then there'd be no show, but sometimes, I think I would like to see her actually do the deed.  Maybe a dream sequence or something?
There isn't too much that we know about Oleander, but from what we do know, I can easily map out a history for her.  The way I see it, she got her start as a restaurant critic, worked her way up to having her own TV show, mostly due to her adventurous eating habits (you don't get a nickname like "The Gulping Gourmet" by being picky).  But shortly before the series begins, she'd basically run out of exotic and/or interesting foods to sample, and was growing bored.  So when she heard about living sushi (not just raw, but alive), naturally, she had to give it a try.  And has yet to succeed.  Must be frustrating for a lady used to getting what she wants.  (Seriously, do you want to get between Oleander and her desires?  I didn't think so.)
Which brings me to the episode "Sushi Pack vs. The Fried Food Fighting Force," the first Oleander-centric episode of the new season.  Very lovely Oleander action here, as you will see.

The episode starts with the Pack, as usual, talking about the lower crime rate, which is a little unusual, but gives them some extra time.  Tako suggests that they use this break to redesign the Sushicraft, but no one can agree on what to do: Maguro wants to make it more open, Tako wants to make it more artistic, Ikura's all for painting huge teeth on it (which would be pretty cool, actually, in a kitschy sort of way), Wasabi wants a huge fly bathtub instead, and Kani just wants to keep it the way it is.  She is the one who built it, after all.
Skip over to Oleander in her kitchen at the TV studio, trying to cook up a plan to get at the Sushi Pack.  Since her previous schemes haven't worked, she decides to make her own fighting foods (ala Titanium Chef), which she plans to eat once they've served their purpose (see, that's just awesome right there).  So she fries up a potato, chicken nugget, corndog, mozzerella chunk (not a stick, a chunk), and a glob of ketchup to complete the group.  Then, to bring them to life, she adds a bunch of other stuff, but most importantly, a whole can of hazardous material.  The resulting explosion gives her a new 'do, but also brings forth The Fried Food Fighting Force.
Back with the Pack, they still can't decide on what to do with the Sushicraft, nor can they compromise.  Ben points out that they have differences of opinion because they're all naturally different from each other, but they need to remember that it's their similarities that make them a team.  (a quick animation note: while Ben gives his spiel, Wasabi scratches his nose, or where his nose would be if he had one.  Just a little thing I liked.)  The Pack reflects on this briefly, and are able to put their differences aside long enough to check out the scene of a recent crime.
The chief of police fills in the Pack about a suspicious grease fire in a rock quarry, leaving the Pack puzzled on how rocks can catch fire, especially a grease fire.  It was all the doing of the Fried Food Fighting Force (here on abbreviated F4), of course.  Oleander congratulates them on their successful first mission, but instructs them to do something bigger for the next time if they want to defeat the Sushi Pack.  The F4, however, has an inkling that as living foods similar to the Pack, they shouldn't fight.  Oleander squashes this attitude by filling them with Fried Pride, and they take off for another mission.
Later, The Pack shows up at the newspaper printers just after the F4 leave.  The head printer shows off the greasy finger prints left by the still-unknown-to-them gang, but Maguro recognizes the prints as footprints and hypothesizes that the group responsible for tainting the Late Edition is about the same size as the Pack.  Not only that, but there's a smell of corndogs in the air...  Back with the F4, Oleander details their final mission to defeat the Sushi Pack, after which will be the banquet of honor.  She nearly lets it slip that she's planning to eat them, but manages to cover it up with none of them the wiser.  The final battle will take place at the old clock tower.  After she sends them on their way, Oleander calls Wharf City News and leaves an anonymous tip, using her superior voiceover skills.
While not chasing after the elusive F4, the Pack stays home and fumes at each other over their inability to agree on the Sushicraft (not that they have the time to modify it now, anyway).  Finally, Kani has enough and manages to bring the rest of the Pack together, just in time for Ben to tell them about the anonymous tip.  And so the Sushi Pack is off for the clock tower, which appears to be deserted.  Tako senses a trap, and sure enough, the F4 attacks!  Kani, still in reconciliation mode, tries to stop the two groups from fighting.  She points out all the things they have in common (being made from foodstuffs and taking their jobs seriously, among others), and the members of the F4 add a few themselves.  Kani still has to seal the deal, though, and asks the F4 why they're all there.  It's at that moment that Oleander shows up and announces her intentions to eat them all (and she actually says "There's only one way out -- in my belly!").  An unwise move on her part, since with her deception revealed, the F4 have no reason at all to fight the Sushi Pack, and they all band together to take her out.  Using eerily similar powers, they trap her under a large bell.
With the main plot wrapped up, the F4 decide to head off to other parts and get into modeling for restaurants.  Kani can't keep from spieling some more, seeming way too chipper for her character, but a tearful goodbye between Wasabi and Ketchup is all it takes to bring her back down to her usual self.  And the episode is over.

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