Wednesdays 12:30 pm EDT on Crunchyroll
I know we needed some levity after last week’s emotional episode, but jumping into the middle of a cultural festival felt out of place. This is not the type of show that finds excuses to put the girls in cute costumes and yet here we were, carting everyone out in maid uniforms. Seriously, how many maid cafes can one school possibly support? To their credit everything was generally light hearted and inoffensive so I can’t complain too much. I even liked the bit with Asuka as the appropriately dressed witch. I love how her relationship has developed with Kumiko to the point where they both just openly acknowledge how horrible she can be.
More important than the maids though was setting up the plot threads for the back half of the season. I am looking forward to some a lot more than others. First up, Shuichi actually had a speaking part after being mostly absent up until now. I am not happy about this. I don’t care about him being around per se, but I hated everything about this particular appearance. A little relationship advice for all those heartbroken folks out there: if you are romantically interested in someone and they turn you down, don’t be a jerk about it. Get the idea that you can change their mind out of your head because you can’t. It’s their decision to make and if you truly care about them you will be happy to continue supporting them as a friend. Even if you can’t muster that much right away, you can at least be polite until you can get away and cool off.
That has not really been the case with Shuichi, who has acted like a pouty teenager whenever he gets rejected. Given that he is a pouty teenager I guess I can’t be too mad about that, but the fact the show refuses to shut the door on him possibly getting what he wants frustrates me. He has been completely irrelevant to Kumiko’s high school life. He’s done nothing to help her grow as the rest of her friends have. She doesn’t even acknowledge his existence unless he is standing directly in front of her face where she can’t ignore him. To even open the possibility that she might reciprocate his feelings is out of character at best. At worst, we get a situation like the haunted house in this episode which was not only a lazy way to force Kumiko to be dependent on him, it felt downright degrading. It feeds into the concept that so called “nice guys” who do nice things for girls should be rewarded with their romantic love. ANYWAY, rant over, just wanted to get that off my chest should KyoAni totally ruin everything and hook these kids up. Hopefully I won’t have to go over this again.
As far as the other disturbing relationship drama with Taki-sensei, that thankfully seems like it will stay a dumb, one-sided school girl crush. Clearly he’s not ready to move on and even if he was it would seem highly unlikely he’d be interested in one of his 16 year old students. His part in the story lies elsewhere, particularly as we now understand his bittersweet motivation for wanting to win at the Nationals. We’re already seeing a pattern of scenes and episodes focused on learning what is driving a particular character to win and Taki-sensei happened to be the next one on the list. I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of that as next week it looks like we’ll be focused on Asuka. I’m assuming that was her mother coming to see her at school and she didn’t look happy. We’ve had plenty of hints at something holding her back so we’ll see how that goes.
What may end up being the biggest plot thread of the second half is the drama with Kumiko’s sister. Her disapproval of Kumiko continuing band was a big mental hurdle for her to overcome in season 1. It’s impossible to say why her sister is dropping out of college at this point, but the sudden shift in attitude is obviously having an impact. I hope she didn’t drop out for something as silly as seeing Kumiko being successful at something she loves, but I wouldn’t rule that out. That would be something difficult to admit and explain why she doesn’t want to tell anyone, and honestly that would kind of fit the theme of the show. Still, I’m not sure I’d be comfortable with the message that would send so we’ll wait and see. I have some concerns, but overall I’m feeling good about the rest of the season and if Big Sis drama ends up being the focus I think I’ll be OK with that.