「学園天国？」 (Gakuen Tengoku?”)
After four episodes of drama exposing the best and worst of humanity, Kotoura-san presents an episode without any serious troubles or worries–your standard romantic comedy staple. The focus this week resides with the gang complete, with everyone naturally adjusting to their reborn and peaceful school life together…a true school paradise. Not everyone is comfortable with this change, both classmates and audience alike, but hopefully with time such discomfort can fade in light of their cheerful and lovable chemistry.
While this is probably happiness for Kotoura and her companions, I can imagine some of you lamenting at the lack of serious plot or drama that has defined this show thus far. I myself was surprised that the episode was as relaxed as it was without something terrible happening. I was a little disappointed that something around those lines didn’t occur. Yet, with all the wonderful dynamics the show expressed this episode, it doesn’t seem like a waste of potential to switch to lighter topics such as this. Kotoura deserves a break considering all that she’s been though for our entertainment, even though physical harm still abuses her every five minutes.
For starters, the episode served well in cementing Moritani’s connection into the group. I’ll grant that the integration process for Moritani went by a little too quickly, but at the same time I’m glad that her integration sped up for the sake of displaying her new reactions to well…everything. The dynamic between her and Manabe is amusing to watch, especially considering how they view each other. Moritani, who is still crushing on Manabe, has landed herself in a terrible friendzone/enemyzone that she’ll never get out of. Just one mistake (though a big one at that) has set Manabe into a position where he would be hard pressed to perceive Moritani differently, resulting in many caps of Moritani’s sad, sad faces. The fact that Kotoura is the one supporting her rather than the other way around is pretty ironic, though strangely enough the two of them suit each other well. Despite her cool exterior in the first few episodes, the fierce karate girl is actually one sensitive girl, where any disapproval from anyone will set her into a sobbing mood. It must suck for her crush to distance himself away while the dojo jokes haunt her relentlessly (where even Kotoura isn’t immune). I guess it’s wise to be on Moritani’s good side where she can be a softie, rather than earn the wrath of the “Mori”.
Other than developing the former rival into a sensitive friend, this week’s episode actually focused tons on cementing the friendship dynamics between all the characters, despite being a break from the drama. While this may be a fancy way of saying, “this week showed friends doing friendly things,” I’d think that the show did very well in doing what we take for granted in a show. Mifune continues to strengthen her position as leader of the group and her reasons for doing so, while Muroto continues his straight man routine. Manabe continues to stave off any advances Moritani pushes while continuing to support her as the perverted boy he is. Other than Moritani, Kotoura herself also is adjusting herself to a new friendly life, learning through an almost “Neighbors Club” style what the face of true friendship looks and feels like.
Although drama could accelerate the character development tastefully and in a speedier manner, the friendlier…less intriguing traits may go underdeveloped, resulting in characters we can’t seem to sympathize with. While continued drama would paint a more realistic and deeper feel for the show, one must not forget that Kotoura-san is at its heart…still a romantic comedy. Now that the drama has subsided for now, those more comedic and romantic hints that were not as available before can be explored here. Although I didn’t laugh out loud this episode, I did feel good that the group was getting along despite how weirded out the class was, and that everyone else is getting along just fine (though not at some expense to others). Fear not those who were drawn in by the drama, for I don’t expect the rest of the episodes to reflect pure romantic comedy. There will be a return of some serious business before the season is over, but for now let’s enjoy the happiness that Kotoura desperately deserves–let her bask in her high school paradise, no matter how inevitably short lived it may be. While I do feel some of the actual execution fell flat at times, especially in animation, overall I feel this is a good point for the show to take a break, let people be lulled into a sense of security, and once again surprise our expectations.
P.S: My apologies that my posts have been later than usual this week…school is killer (I think of my body as a circuit and life as a bunch of HTML tags now when deathly tired) and finding the time to even keep up with shows is a struggle. Of course Valentines Day is coming up…but that’s a different story. I’ll try my best to get posts out earlier next week!
ED2: 「ESP研のテーマ」 (Iiesupii Ken no Teema) by 花澤香菜, 金元寿子, 福島潤, 下野紘, and 久保ユリカ (Hanazawa Kana, Kanemoto Hisako, Fukushima Jun, Shimono Hiro, and Kubo Yurika)
Watch the 2nd ED!: Streaming ▼