LAP 15
Sniper Pico

On a dark and misty night, a lone F-Zero machine prowls the empty warehouse district. Inside one of those warehouses, Octoman and Bio Rex are busy playing (and arguing over) a game of cards.

Only in the thick of their argument do the two suddenly notice the mysterious pilot watching them nonchalantly. Octoman hurls the cards at him, and the pilot shoots a hole through the centre of every last one of them.

Bio Rex takes his turn at attacking, but before he can even lunge, more laser fire is shot his way... and all his teeth are knocked out. Humbled, the two lackeys stumble backwards in fear... only to be swamped by gold bars leaking out of containers, apparently also the dirty work of this intruder.

Zoda is stirred from his office to see what all the commotion is about, but upon seeing who it is, he realises all is well: it's only the merciless gun-for-hire, Pico! He had hired him previously for the terrorist threat against the F-Zero committee, and it looks like he needs his help again...

Zoda's gold-smuggling operations have been foiled by the police with frustrating consistency these days; it's a lucky day if he ever makes it back to base. If he is to move unhindered, he needs to put away whoever's organising these snares. He assigns Pico his target, Director John Tanaka, and the assassin is away before Zoda can even finish his sentence. The two goons are concerned what Black Shadow will think if he fails; who cares about Black Shadow? Zoda's only after money, nothing else.

John Tanaka, the very image of professionalism and commitment, is fast asleep at his desk, lost in a dream of romancing his secret love, Kate Alen. His daydream is interrupted when Jody reports that the police have captured another of Dark Million's transports. That'll put the pressure on 'em.

A mysterious deliveryman enters the police headquarters with a package for Director Tanaka; the guards offer to hold it for him, but he claims he can't leave without the director's signature. Unbeknownst to them, this is Pico in disguise (natch), and his parcel is a time bomb just waiting to go off. The hitman can barely hold back his smirk.

Even while awake, Tanaka can't stop dreaming about Kate: he preens himself in anticipation for her concert tonight and dreams of making her chief of police, just so he can hear her gorgeous singing anytime he wants. He's just about to smooch all over her poster when a knock at the door sends him scampering to his desk.

Fearing it's Jody, he's relieved to find it's the deliveryman. Pico sets the parcel upon his desk, and John mulls it over, wondering whatever could be inside. "I bet it'll be a blast."

"H-how did he...?!"

Fearing the director already knows, Pico turns to leave only for John to call him back. He doesn't want this giant parcel cluttering up his desk, and tells him to take it away. The hitman is sweating, anxiously awaiting for the ball to drop, when John opens his desk drawer...

Expecting to have a gun drawn on him, Pico drops the parcel and legs it out of there, leaving poor Tanaka bewildered. Doesn't he need his signature?
Jody passes Pico rushing down the corridor, and orders him to stop and turn around. The hitman obliges...

... and sheds his disguise, nearly roundhouse-kicking Jody. She dodges and fires a shot from her blaster, but Pico dives out the window and sails away to safety on his parachute. There's no chance of her catching up, but more importantly...

... that parcel is still in the director's office! Jody barges in and tells him to get rid of it, John chucking it out the window just before it explodes. The other Platoon members rush in to check if everyone's all right; Ryu is already out pursuing the parachute in his Dragon Bird. Tanaka's only concern is if his hearing has been damaged.

Pico drops from his parachute atop some poor schmuck's car, hijacking it with the Dragon Bird hot on his trail. Ryu weaves between cars, some battered aside by the hitman in an attempt to slow him down.

The assassin begins firing slugs into Ryu's windscreen, eventually shattering it. This slows him down long enough for Pico to drive off the side of the highway and land atop a Dark Million battle station, flying him to safety.

Ryu returns to headquarters, none the wiser on who the perpetrator was; the group suspect their raids on Zoda's gold-smuggling must have prompted this attack. Dr. Stewart arrives to tell them he's identified the attacker: Pico, an ex-soldier turned hitman. "His targets never escaped, his aim is precise, and he looks like a turtle."

Fearful for the director's life, Jody and EAD take Tanaka to a new office where they believes he'll be less of a target. This is awful! He can't leave, he can't stand near the window - and he won't be able to see his beloved Kate! He tries to keep it a secret from Jody, though he approaches the window and points dramatically - no matter the obstacle, he will fight for Kate's love!

"He... found me again."

Alone in his room, John Tanaka sobs over his poor luck: he only spent forever getting his ticket and finally freed up his evening, and he can't leave his room until his attacker is caught. Surely there's some way he can leave without being detected? His eyes turn to the empty boxes from his office. Of course! The postal service!

In the warehouse district, Zoda is loading up more truckloads of treasure en route for Port Town. A cruise ship is docked there and the goods will be loaded aboard; the police won't suspect a thing! Octoman is thrilled by the idea. "I wonder if there'll be a love affair on the ship?" "I'll push you into the sea," Zoda snarls.
What they don't suspect is a parcel from the police station is also destined for the same cruise ship... and inside it is John Tanaka!

This is brilliant, a totally flawless plan, he thinks... until he realises he can't get out. His struggling causes his container to fall out of the truck and shatter, right in the path of an incoming taxi. He hops in instantly and asks the driver to take him to Port Town.

"He figured it out. Amazing."

Pico narrowly avoids being recognised, and asks his passenger why he's visiting Port Town. John answers he's there to meet a very important person, saying one look is all it'll take to make them putty in his hands. Fearing they've been sussed out again, Pico readies his pistol in one hand, only to be told to drive with both hands. The director wants to get there in one piece!

At the station, Lucy apologises for letting John slip her by, and the group ponder where he could be. Jody remembers him mentioning the name "Kate," and Ryu remembers the singer had invited him and EAD to a dinner performance on the Port Town cruise ship, but had to cancel because of the whole assassination business.
Meanwhile, Pico has readied his sniper rifle upon the crowd entering the ship, but can find no sign of his target: the director has blended in with the crowd. He's good.

Reporting in to Zoda, Pico tells him this John Tanaka is one slippery customer, more canny than they ever suspected: he knows their every move and is already on-site, waiting to strike. Zoda can't believe this: this guy's trying to take them on as a one-man army? And they've lost track of him?!
The director has finally made his way to Kate Alen's show, and is having a peaceful, relaxing time. It was worth all the trouble.

Zoda and his men make immediate preparations to put a stop to their nemesis, while John Tanaka is busy fantasising about his favourite singer, dreaming of what it'll be like to smooch those lovely lips after the show. Suddenly, a set of slithery tentacles wrap around him and Octoman drags him away!

The Galaxy Mobile Platoon arrive on the cruise ship, and failing to find the director among the crowd at Kate's show, split up to go look for him. Jody instead finds a Dark Million robot enter a door in the basement, and she calls for backup...

... but Octoman and Bio Rex are waiting for her! One kick is all it takes to send the squid-man out for the count, and his spraying of ink blinds Bio Rex, causing him to run into a wall and knock himself out cold.

Tanaka, meanwhile, is strung up and interrogated by Zoda, Pico narrowly missing him for every question he doesn't answer. The director is scared out of his wits and baffled as to what they're talking about. They've humoured themselves enough, and Pico is ready to put the poor sap out of his misery...

... when Jody enters, zapping the gun out of his hand. Ryu and Lucy show up as well; the director had hidden backup this whole time! Damn he's good! Ryu clobbers the robot minions, Zoda throwing more of them his way so he can make his escape. Jody unties Tanaka, but Pico has unfinished business with the two of them, and draws his pistol on them.

Unfortunately for him, he immediately slips on the ropes, tipping him backwards and knocking the crates over the rest of Zoda's robots. Foiled and humiliated, the Dark Million goons hop aboard a truck and make a getaway, while Pico sneaks away through a vent, unseen.

The whole affair taken care of, Tanaka thanks the Platoon for their most welcome support. Lucy wishes to know what prompted the director to come here; reluctant to admit his selfish reasons, he boasts he knew about the scheme this whole time and came to stop it himself. Jody is blown away - the fact he would put his own life at risk without informing the others... this man's bravery knows no bounds!
Kate Alen and her manager come rushing up, and Tanaka welcomes them with open arms...

... but she's here to see Ryu, pleased he came and giving him a peck on the cheek. She has no idea who this other bozo is. John is heartbroken.
Kate, Ryu and EAD spend some quality time on the road the next day... with John in his Wonder Wasp far behind, still pleading for Kate's attention. Better luck next time, Tanaka!

Burt's F-Zero Classroom: A quick refresher on Mute City: it was once New York City, but after first contact with alien life a hundred years ago, it's seen a lot of development. A huge screen below Ryu's apartment reflects the sky, displaying important messages such as upcoming elections or garbage day.

4Kids broadcast: This episode's title was changed to Target Tanaka... and this was the last one they showed! The series was quietly axed after this and no more dubs were made. Personally, I'm just disappointed we didn't get to see more of Dave Willis's superb performance as Super Arrow. Alas, some things were not to be.

Lots of colourful guns to cap the series off! Pico and the Dark Soldiers' guns are green. Bio Rex, Octoman and the police's weapons plus John Tanaka's imagined sidearm are blue. Jody's is pink and Lucy's is yellow.

All references to Zoda's gold are replaced with "data chips" instead.

The "A young man. Save a State" line is removed from Kate's police poster.

The Dragon Bird's CG model is laid atop its 2D animation while chasing Pico, making for some choppy-looking animation.

The sequence of Pico shooting Ryu's windscreen is rather forcefully truncated so any hint of him actually shooting the windscreen is omitted... except for a visible bullet wedged into it in one shot.

The previous episode's preview uses generic sky backdrops for shots set in or around the Galaxy Police HQ.

Tanaka's office has what appears to be a recruitment poster for the Galaxy Police of Kate Alen in police uniform. During his love-crazy babbling he also remarks "I want to make her chief again." I could ask if this means Kate was once part of the force, though I wouldn't put it past Tanaka to just be fantasising wildly again.