「戦慄！文化祭」 (Senritsu! Bunkasai)
“Shudder! The Culture Festival”
Episode at a Glance:
After reflecting on her experiences on Earth, Yami reminds herself that she’s an assassin and decides to look for a job. At school, Yui tries to coordinate what her class is going to do for the culture festival and gives only two options, a calligraphy display or a region research exhibit, much to the everyone’s disappointment. With her confused by the response, Saruyama takes over and combines everyone’s suggestions about a cafe, ghost house, cosplay movie, and okonomiyaki store into an animal cosplay cafe that sells okonomiyaki. (Ingenious!) After getting the class’ approval, he moves onto a scheme of measuring all the girls’ three sizes for custom fit costumes, but gets relieved of the task by Risa and Mio. The two of them then exploit the opportunity and make the process awkward for the other girls, but manage to collect the information that they need. Just outside the classroom, the guys are left wondering exactly what’s going on inside.
Saki on the other hand, gets Aya and Rin to scout out what the other classes are doing, and upon hearing that Lala’s class are making an animal cafe, decides to upstage them. With everyone getting into the culture festival preparations, Yui finds herself losing confidence in guiding others, but Haruna reassures her saying that neither her nor Saruyama’s methods are wrong and what’s important is enjoying the process with everyone. Returning to her normal self, Yui then joins in on everyone’s efforts, which result in a set of revealing animal costumes for all the girls. On the actual day of the festival, one of the girls in the class falls ill, leaving a custom-made costume go to waste, but Yami shows up at the door, asking Lala if there’s any work for her here. Having failed to find work as an assassin and been mistaken for a prostitute, Yami ends up helping out in the black bunny costume. Upon opening, customers from all over flock to the animal cafe, while Saki wonders why there are no customers at her insect cafe.
「猿山の大奥物語」 (Saruyama no Oooku Monogatari)
“Saruyama’s Shogun Harem Tale”
Hands down, the best episode so far, so I decided to commemorate it by providing more screenshots than usual. As Saruyama put it best, “it was NOT a mistake to make an animal cafe!” I have to totally agree with him on that one, as I wasn’t mistaken to expect something from the culture festival episode either. For one, seeing Haruna shy away in her kitten costume was quite a treat. Also, Saruyama proved to be the driving force this episode, pulling everyone together and opening Yui’s eyes to the more enjoyable things in life. Surprisingly, there was some notable character development this week, which is probably one of the rarest elements of this series.
What’s even more shocking is that there were multiple developments going concurrently, with Saruyama proving his worth by coordinating the class’ work on the animal cafe, Yui losing confidence in herself, Saki scheming to upstage Lala’s class, Lala learning the importance of working together for a culture festival, and Yami reflecting on her time on Earth, looking for work as an assassin, and coming through for the class when someone suddenly got sick. The only person missing during all this was Run too. Most of the ecchi comedy came courtesy of Risa and Mio, whose sexual harassment of the other girls was “stimulating”. In retrospect, it was like I was watching an entirely different version of To LOVE-Ru, made by a production studio that has a sense of direction. This episode also had a finale-like feeling to it, mainly due to the “forever we can make it” opening song played near the end, so I’m hoping that this sets some sort of standard for the actual finale.
As for the series as a whole, it’s episodes like this that I miss, since they feature all the characters that I actually care to see minus the random aliens that I don’t, provide the right amount of fan-service, showcase it in a way that’s actually comedic, and have a light storyline hovering about. This is how I hoped To LOVE-Ru would turn out to be when I picked it up back in spring, but it’s unfortunately proven to be otherwise, especially as of late. I mean, it’s one thing to make an anime original series (which is fine), but it’s another thing to do it with bad writers (which makes me want to pull teeth). Out of the twenty-two episodes they’ve aired so far, I can only think of a handful that were on par with this one, which is a bit disappointing because the series could’ve been a lot better if there were more.
That aside, the music was used a lot more effectively this episode, featuring not one, but three new insert songs, which were Lala, Haruna, and Yami’s characters songs. Titled “Daisuki Miikke!” 「ダイスキみーっけ！」, “Skirt no Hajikko” 「スカートのはじっこ」, and “GOLDEN TRANCER” respectively, they all sounded fairly catchy too. In addition to the recently released ED2 single, “kiss no Yukue” 「kissの行方」, at least I’ve been pleased with the music featured in the series thus far. With all the above said, I realize that one or two good episodes can’t save the series from being very lackluster now; however, my interest has slightly peaked again since we may get a couple of more episodes like this in the upcoming weeks. The next episode looks pretty funky with a different art style for the Edo period, but I’ll reserve any judgment on it for now.
– Yuuki Rito (結城 梨斗) / Watanabe Akeno (渡辺 明乃)
– Lala Satalin Deviluke (ララ・サタリン・デビルーク) / Tomatsu Haruka (戸松 遥)
– Saruyama Kenichi (猿山 ケンイチ) / Yoshino Hiroyuki (吉野 裕行)
– Momioka Risa (籾岡 里沙) / Yuzuki Ryouka (柚木 涼香)
– Sawada Mio (沢田 未央) / Chiba Chiemi (千葉 千恵巳)
– Sairenji Haruna (西連寺 春菜) / Yahagi Sayuri (矢作 紗友里)
– Kotegawa Yui (古手川 唯) / Nadzuka Kaori (名塚 佳織)
– Konjiki no Yami (金色の闇) / Fukuen Misato (福圓 美里)
– Tenjouin Saki (天条院 沙姫) / Kawasumi Ayako (川澄 綾子)
– Fujisaka Aya (藤崎 綾) / Mizuhashi Kaori (水橋 かおり)
– Kujou Rin (九条 凛) / Hashimoto Mai (橋本 まい)
– Peke (ペケ) / Arai Satomi (新井 里美)
– Clerk (事務員) / Asou Tomohisa (麻生 智久)
– Student (生徒) / Konno Jun (金野 潤)
– Student (生徒) / Adzuma Masataka (我妻 正崇)
– Student (生徒) / Nakanishi Naoya (中西 尚也)
– Student (生徒) / Matsuo Daisuke (松尾 大亮)
– Student (生徒) / Sasaki Hinako (佐々木 日菜子)
– Student (生徒) / Nishino Youko (西野 陽子)