「迷い猫、待ってった」 (Mayoi Neko, Mattetta)
“Stray Cat, Waited”
I haven’t placed much bearing on the production staff changes every episode in this series, but when hints of Satou Takuya‘s work in Seitokai no Ichizon came through, I instinctively took notice. With all the timely comedic transitions, back and forth bickering, and appearance of a new girl, this was easily the funniest episode thus far. To Takuya’s credit, he also worked on Toradora, Slayers REVOLUTION, Minami-ke, Ichigo Mashimaro, Genshiken, and various other comedies, but this was by far the most reminiscent of his recent work in Ichizon. Taking on director, screen writer, and storyboard responsibilities here, he delivered both a small plot and non-stop gags that had me laughing more times than not. One subtle aspect that I particularly liked was the added emphasis on facial expressions in almost every scenario, whether it was purely humorous or sarcastically serious. As a result, the characters seemed much more animated than usual (cheap pun intended).
The guys were noticeably absent for most if not all the episode, except for Ieyasu’s sudden phone call explaining how he’s got a special “training regiment” for Takumi, which was pretty damn funny in its own right. I’ve always found Ieyasu quite the riot as far as otakus go, so it’s nice to see that remains the case when he’s not even around. Be that as it may, the beauty of this episode was how it approached the comedic and dramatic aspects on two different fronts. For the former, Fumino and Chise absolutely stole the show with the way they were fighting over Takumi when he’s not even there, arguing about whether or not Otome is a child abductor, and standing off Mayoi Neko Fighter style following an incident during doorbell repairs. For the latter, Nozomi was focused on taking care of the new girls Otome brought in, Honoka (Hidaka Rina), whom she believed was an orphan just like herself. To that end, she even made her a welcome cake, which Chise humorously had to take a picture of and call up Satou and Suzuki to check what “bienvenue” means before acting like she knew from the very beginning.
Surprisingly, when everyone found out Honoka just got separated from her mother while chasing after a bird to draw, it didn’t take too much away from the slightly more profound moments she shared with Nozomi. If anything, Otome’s trip to the police box thirty minutes away that took an entire day disrupted the mood more. Regardless, the day spent with Honoka reminded Fumino, Nozomi, and even Chise (to a degree) how they don’t have parents, which helped reiterate the series theme that was lost for a good chunk of episodes. Of course, it wouldn’t feel right without Fumino telling Takumi to die two (million) times over, so lo and behold we have just that when he returns from Ieyasu’s with a huge haul following his brainwashing. Overall, this was really nice improvement over some of the more random showings and had great laughs throughout. I definitely recommend checking it out if you’ve put the series on indefinite hold or decided to drop it.