Well, I suppose in the end I’m mostly happy with the way things played out here. Sure, it was a bit of a cop-out but I really didn’t want to see Kosame bite it with three episodes left (or ever, really). It’s one thing to off a main protagonist when you have a cast of strong characters – preferably with a better protagonist among them, as was the case with Gurren-Lagann. This isn’t a bad group but it’s not exactly dynamic – Hototo is pretty engaging and Jin and Al are fine, but Appare in no way holds a candle to Kosame as a central figure. He’s needed, to put it simply.
If you’re going to tease a fake character death, Appare-Ranman did it in a fairly convincing fashion. They never actually said Kosame was dead for starters, and there were no asspull miracles to save him. Just pressure on the wound, Chase showing up with an undamaged car, and a doctor to remove the bullet and stitch him up. And I like the way blood transfusion was used as a framing device – the future overcoming Gil’s power to destroy. Transfusions had been around for a while but were considered extremely risky until early in the 20th Century (not coincidentally when the subject of blood typing was really taking off), so the timing here isn’t totally out of whack.
As for the question of whether the race should continue, that’s a matter of logistics before anything else. All the cars (but one) are trashed, and the only bridge for 300 miles (!) is out. And there’s also the fact that Gil is holding hostages including Sophia, which leaves Al rather distracted by more important matters than the race. The solution, it seems, is for everyone to pool their resources and Appare to work his magic, though give that he has the only amphibious vehicle in the field I hardly think the race can go forward without a bridge.
I can’t get too caught up in Appare’s emotional tribulations this episode, because he’s never really come off as a believable and relatable character. Kosame got it right – Appare has plenty of stuff he should be apologizing for before he apologizes for someone else shooting him. But then, if Appare doesn’t have an epiphany Appare-Ranman doesn’t really have a story, so even if it plays as pretty rote this had to happen. I just wonder how they’re going to get Kosame back into the race, since realistically he ought to be laid up for at least a week with that wound.