「似たものどうしのディスタンス」 (Nitamono Doushi no Disutansu)
“The Distance Between Similar People”
Sufficed to say, I definitely wasn’t expecting interesting character background and development in this series, but this episode pleasantly surprised me. Admittedly, I may have been a bit prejudice making the assumption that this would be a rather shallow psuedo-fanservice series going only off of the XEBEC label and staple moe-blob art style, but can you blame me for getting trolled? In hindsight, I suppose I should have expected this to at least make an effort to supply the characters with a certain amount of depth, as it’s based off of a light novel, but even if I had raised my expectations to that level I still would not have foreseen this series actually incorporating a compelling background to one of it’s characters and seriously running with the drama. Taking this into account now, this appears to be a series that takes its completely ridiculous premise on the surface and turns it on its head in the actual story (somewhat like Oreimo, as some of you will find out), and I’m not complaining. My expectations of this show becoming my second dose of ecchi for the season (TLR being my primary for it) may have been betrayed, but in return I’ve seemingly found a little golden egg. Rather than a pseudo-fanservice series, this is more like a pseudo-slice of life, with the crazy fetishes and disorders the characters possess on the surface masking the genuine insecurities and past plights they have underneath.
Obviously, the character in question who’s background I am referring to is Yuno Arashiko, the Androphobic classmate of Tarou who we caught a few glimpses of last episode. As I had speculated in my episode one post, it turns out Yuno has a fear of men, which is why she couldn’t stand Tarou coming into contact with her and always hit him as a result. As I mentioned, the thing that surprised me about this revelation is that, for the most part, it was not used for comedy and led to genuine, serious drama, with Yuno having developed her Androphobia from being abused by her middle school boyfriend and considering it a serious problem. The fact that Tarou actually crushed his soda cup in anger from hearing the story only added to the tense atmosphere. Actually, the execution of this episode is what really impressed me the most and made me rethink my opinion of this series. Everything from the build up to Yuno telling Tarou about her fear of men was played well, and I very much enjoyed watching it unfold. While I don’t personally know anyone suffering from Androphobia, I can imagine how painful it must be to develop the fear from a trauma such as being abused by a man you trust, and the fact that XEBEC decided to actually run with the serious side effects of it and not just toss it off for more comedy has earned them a couple points from me. To be honest, I had a very vague feeling that we would get serious moments in this series from the scene between Tarou and Tatsukichi, but I simply brushed it off as a gag, building up a pseudo-serious scene for comic relief, when in reality it has turned out to be the other way around.
Of course, we still had our fair share of comedy to go along with the serious business this episode, most of which came in the form of Yuno’s very much split personality. At one moment she’s a polite yet somewhat shy school girl, the next she’s a boxing champion, the next she’s a full on tsundere, and then the next she’s a cute-loving puppy. Seriously, I got mental whiplashes trying to keep up with her mood swings, would you almost think she’s on her period from the amount of personality shifts she has in this one episode. It’s quite obvious she’s an unbalanced character to say the least, which has me wondering if she has a personality disorder to go along with her Androphobia? Yuno’s 7 different personas aside, the biggest laugh for me came from Tatsukichi’s sudden transformation into a high class Ojou-sama bitch. Not since Hideyoshi has a trap been so tempting, so delicious. I was almost fooled into thinking Tatsukichi was an actual girl there for a moment.
So in a nutshell, this episode was just a pleasant shock all around. I must admit, after the initial airing, I was afraid that the brainless comedy would get stale and eventually I’d grow tired of this series, especially with there being no real “straight man” in the midst of this to offset all the craziness. Thankfully though, if this episode is any indication, the fetish fueled humor is not the only thing this show has going for it, and I’m looking forward to hearing about the characters and their backgrounds more. Some people criticized this show as having no potential based off of the first airing and dropped it immediately, and I must say that I pity their quick reactions if the true colors of this show begin to shine through the surface, such as what happened with Yuno and her past. This second episode has undoubtedly left a bigger and better initial impression on me than the first, and I give XEBEC credit for not only delivering comedy, but also keeping the serious element of this show in and executing it well. Let’s hope they keep it up.