「合宿前夜のワクワクは修羅場」 (Gasshuku Zen’ya no Wakuwaku wa Shuraba)
“The Excitement The Night Before a Trip Is A Battlefield”
Did I tell you how much I love Saeko-san as a character? I’ll tell you again anyway: I love her awesomeness as a game developer. She used so much meta this episode that she got me completely hyped for the next few episodes. While we have seen many meta-references to otaku culture in recent anime, it’s more uncommon for shows to directly reference their own characters in anime jargon. Pointing out all the elephants in the room and calling out Masuzu’s bullshit has accelerated the series in a more open direction–fewer awkward scenes, more struggles with facing the truth. Thanks Saeko-san, your statements have created a chain reaction that’s elicited a unique reaction from every single significant character, all of which serve to look out for the well-being of Eita…and promote her newest game.
Despite the initial shock that came from Saeko-san’s blunt question, every character is moving in a positive direction. Even though Ai holds onto the idea of Michel out of stubbornness (and it’s not like anyone even believes that Michel exists at this point), Ai (or shall we say Ai-chan) continues to crown herself as the leader thus far with her ridiculous amounts of dere. Seeing her raw adorableness unchained is highly entertaining to watch, especially with her separate reactions as tsunko and dereko. Meanwhile Chiwa got stabbed directly in the heart with Saeko-san’s statements–even though she knew the position she was in, hearing it directly from another person hurts nonetheless. Thanks to Eita’s previous conversation with her last episode though, it seems she hasn’t slowed down in her own efforts–she’s beginning to form friendships with the rest of the girls while distancing herself from Masuzu. Himeko hasn’t gotten as much of a direct hit as everyone else, but her eager nature only continues to grow, with guiding lights such as Ai-chan and the internet to help her through. Even Kaoru gets stuck in the mix too, as it becomes clear to the rest of us that he has feelings for Eita too. Kaoru’s got a pretty cute laugh actually, and how he steps out of the way so that Ai-chan and the others can pursue Eita without interference is charming, yet sad because it’s as if (s)he believes (s)he can’t compete. At least Kaoru and the others can have hope if Eita goes for the harem route over the battlefield, though the chances of that happening are slim to none.
But of all the characters affected, it is of course Masuzu who is shaken the most. Her confidence and character is threatened by Saeko-san’s straightforwardness, herself recoiling at how deeply Saeko-san’s words stab her. Right now, we can say that Masuzu doesn’t know exactly what she wants. It’s clear that Masuzu is becoming uncomfortable becoming isolated in the group, but at the same time it seems Masuzu fails to recognize that it is her own personality and attitude that is pushing everyone away in the first place. Thanks to Saeko-san, Masuzu is finding it hard to establish the proper distance and closeness she wants to have: close enough to interact and do silly things with, but distant enough to hide away her deeper feelings. It’s understandable that Masuzu wants to establish this distance and maintain control and superiority over those around her, but now that it’s been pointed out how much Masuzu is actually beginning to lose the fight, how will she react from here on out? Eita does worry about her the most and is willing to meet up with her at any time, but if she wants to get anywhere, she first needs to drop her facade and talk out her internal conflicts with Eita (or anyone else for that matter).
How next week will continue to shake up the series I haven’t a clue, but I know for sure that my interest in seeing what the characters will do next has risen dramatically. The battlefield has transformed from under-the-table stabs to all-out open warfare. No character is holding back their punches, which should make these next few episodes the most lively and exciting ones we’ve seen in the series yet.