9. Bowling Girls

The conquest of F City may be Across’ first goal, but it must not be forgotten that their ultimate aim is nothing less than world domination. Ilpalazzo has realised that Across needs to be able to understand and control the ignorant masses- and what better way to that than through their favourite sport? With that in mind, Ilpalazzo has a new mission for Excel and Hyatt- researching the most popular sport amongst today’s younger generations.

As per their mission, Excel and Hyatt acquire sports-related part-time jobs- in a decidedly quiet and unpopular bowling alley. Although this is not quite what Ilpalazzo had in mind, their new jobs allow them to earn money for doing basically nothing, as well as watch the filming of the late-night bowling-based TV show, Bowling Girls. The show’s latest guest stars are pop stars and main character knock-offs Excel Kobayashi and Mikako Hyatt (or in real life, the singers of the opening theme). Despite their claim that they love bowling, however, it soon becomes clear that Kobayashi and Mikako don’t actually know anything about the sport- they only came on the show to get some publicity.

As it turns out, trouble is on its way to the bowling alley, in the form of a group of bizarrely clad middle aged men. Striding onto their lanes in their own bowling shoes, the men enact a quick takeover using their bowling pin machine guns, before their leader introduces them as the ideological bowling terrorist group Stick and Balls (or is that Ball and Stick?). They have come to take over the lanes and the Bowling Girls TV show, hoping to use it as a medium to shake Japan out of its apathy towards bowling- despite the fact that only people who like bowling would bother to watch the show anyway.

When a scared Bowling Girls presenter Shikiri tries to make a run for it, Stick and Balls’ leader, Bowling Guy, is quick to strike him down with the Ball of Vengeance, before commanding his men to do whatever they want with the other captives. The Excel Girls and Bowling Girls presenter Sonoba scream in fear at the thought of being ravished by the men, but as it turns out, they are only interested in one thing- bowling.

Meanwhile, Bowling Guy orders Excel and Hyatt to fetch some balls for him, whilst he sets about filming his new show- “Is It Okay for Bowling to be This Much Great Fun?”. Unfortunately, even as he removes his coat to reveal a mechanical bodysuit and prepares to show off his technique, a ball-laden Excel falls over, sending bowling balls everywhere. One of them hits Bowling Guy’s foot, throwing off his perfect shot right in front of the cameras.

The enraged Bowling Guy sends his men after Excel, who quickly legs it to her favourite hiding place- the toilet. Despite having made it to safety, Excel cannot overcome her guilt about leaving Hyatt in the clutches of Stick and Balls, but even as she laments her dilemma, help is at hand in the form of Nabeshin. He may be in the women’s toilets with his pants around his ankles, but nonetheless, Nabeshin promises to give Excel the intensive training she needs to become a master bowler able to face up to Stick and Balls.

Approximately six seconds later, Nabeshin has taught Excel all he knows (nothing). As master and student bid each other a final farewell, Nabeshin hands over his special bowling ball for use when things get tough. Energised with new power, Excel finally leaves the toilet, and prepares to face her destiny…

Meanwhile, Stick and Balls have tired of regular bowling, and have decided to move onto bowling’s ultimate form- ‘Human Bowling’. After dressing Hyatt, Kobayashi, Mikako and Sonoba in bowling pin costumes, Bowling Guy prepares to knock them down with a spiked bowling ball. Fortunately for them, before he can make the shot, Excel knocks him down- standing on his back to perform her heroic self-introduction.

Despite the sparseness of her intensive training, Excel’s bowling skill levels have drastically increased, and she soon proves to be a match for all of Bowling Guy’s underlings combined. Whilst the Excel Girls finally take the opportunity to perform “Love (Loyalty)” (the opening theme), Excel uses her newfound skill to knock down bowling pins and Stick and Balls men in a series of blazing and improbable bowling attacks, all the while avoiding their counter-offensives. Within moments, all of the men are down, with Excel having somehow racked up a hundred million points for her performance.

Now, it comes down to the final match- Excel vs. Bowling Guy- although by this time Hyatt and the others have made themselves comfortable and don’t seem to care too much about being saved. Nonetheless, this is definitely the appropriate point to use Nabeshin’s gift, so Excel switches to her master’s bowling ball, and takes up the bent over backwards ‘ultimate stance’ only ever used before by one legendary man. Bowling Guy is impressed, but nonetheless decides to give it his all, transforming his own spiked bowling ball into a rolling juggernaut of doom.

The two players take their turns simultaneously, but even as the balls make it halfway down the lane, Excel reveals her secret weapon. Using a convenient remote control, she activates Nabeshin’s ball, causing it to open up and reveal a bomb held by a chibi Nabeshin doll. The bomb detonates, taking out both balls, and saving Hyatt and the others from their fate as human bowling pins.

Having saved the day and knocked down all the (wooden) bowling pins, Excel declares herself the victor. Bowling Guy points out that the ball itself must touch the pins in order for her score to be valid, but Excel is having none of it. With a series of moves from various different sports, she knocks out Bowling Guy. The bowling alley is safe again (if somewhat the worse for wear), and as Excel, Hyatt, Mikako and Kobayashi all depart, the filming of Bowling Girls continues.

Meanwhile, at his lowest ebb, poor Pedro finds himself at the Ghost Bar, drinking sake until closing and lamenting the loss of his family. However, even as he cries, a familiar ‘face’ comes to comfort him- the Great Will. Before he knows it, Pedro has spent the night with her, but there is an unpleasant surprise the next morning when the Great Will’s boyfriend, “That Man”, barges into the apartment…

Back at the Across base, Excel and Hyatt report on their mission, leading Ilpalazzo to wonder if the most popular sport of today could really be bowling. Even as the energetic Excel tries to convince him of this, however, she manages to accidentally lose control of her bowling ball, and toss it right towards Ilpalazzo’s face. This isn’t going to go down well…

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