「おしまいの日」 (Oshimai no Hi)
“The Last Day”
Books, books, and more books. They may have been a mere plot device to drive Shiori’s arc, but they were used impeccably to give off a surreal conclusion to it as well. Compared to the previous two episodes, a surprising amount of detail went into the mountain of books in the background too, making this week’s one a notch above in terms of production value. In contrast, the actual amount of plot progression was relatively short, despite the three episodes allocated to Shiori’s story. There wasn’t a whole lot that Keima had to do to win her over since he more or less remained himself to do so (reaffirming my suspicion that a quiet girl like Shiori would be a good match for him). Most of his actual “work” came from trying to understand Shiori’s inner monologue and figuring out how to approach her to get her to open up to him and the rest of the world. As a result, very little actually happened on screen and made this come off as a relatively uneventful arc altogether. All we really saw happen were two instances where Keima purposely offended Shiori’s love of books to get some sort of a verbal response out of her last time. At no point did I ever get a sense that Shiori was falling for him, so there wasn’t any build-up in the romance department either. Because of that, this was far from how I was hoping this arc would unfold. I would’ve much preferred to see Shiori start showing some signs that she sees Keima as something more than a person she could talk to, even though that was already a big step forward for her.
All things considered, this was probably a two and a half episode arc at best, after our lovable Elsie made episode nine as much hers as Shiori’s. Most of the time was invested in showcasing all the nuances to the quiet, reserved female stereotype, rather than working towards getting a romantic response out of her, making me believe it was a conscious decision to make this whole arc play out like an eroge tutorial on librarian girls. Assuming that’s the case, Shiori’s story did work well in highlighting her shyness and showing how she confided in books as her safe haven from the world. Naturally, that made this entire arc more about Keima helping Shiori overcome her social problem by becoming the person who gives her the courage, instead of winning her heart and making her fall passionately in love with him. Of course, one could easily perceive the former leading to the latter, if they buy into the idea that Keima’s kiss instantly changed Shiori’s opinion of him from a supportive friend to a potential boyfriend. Quite honestly, I’m a bit on the fence about that one, but I do appreciate the sentiment they were going for and really loved the scene with all the scattered books when Keima helped her up and pulled her in for the kiss. Looking back, it was easily the most dramatic kiss thus far, and helped offset the lack of romantic feelings in the air leading up to it. However, it only ended up making the entire arc feeling better than average and not “amazingly awesome” like it could have been if there was more focus on the relationship aspect. Mind you, that’s coming from someone who really enjoyed watching the emotional changes in the girls in previous arcs, and was looking forward to seeing them in Shiori as well.
Regardless, I did enjoy seeing a few different cute sides to Shiori’s character, whether it was from her embarrassed reactions or her inner thoughts when Keima upset her. The addition of the first and fifth verses of the opening theme “God only knows” gave this episode a very different feel as well, befitting of the fairy tale-like finish. Things even left off in a way that had me wishing I’d get to see more of Shiori when she somehow caught onto the indirect kiss with Keima, who didn’t make it all that clear from his game selection whether he’s had enough of librarian girls. As such, I did like this arc more than I’m probably letting off, even though it didn’t go the way I was hoping it would. Anyway, next episode is the last until the continuation airs next spring, which the preview liked to joke around a bit with.