「学校の海パン」 (Gakkou no Kaipan)
“School Swim Trunks”
I’m late, but I’ll keep things brief, or should I say boxer. Depends on the guy.
It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a clever twist on the beach episode, especially one that turns the episode on its head. It’s almost as if the show is quietly mocking the concept of the beach episode itself and how every series with fanservice seems to be doomed to include one for tradition’s sake. It’s as if it mocks how it seems every character loses their personality entirely just so a beach episode can proceed as planned. Maybe that’s me over-analyzing the show, but if anything, it still was an enjoyable episode that actually tied well with the farming theme (which it has been doing better at lately) as well as made great lengths in advancing character development.
In fact, let’s talk about character development some more. As many of you have noticed, Ringo has upped her smiles and cheerfulness as compared to just a few episodes ago, as well as her general ability to express herself. It’s a bit more than subtle, but it’s a welcome change in Ringo’s character–hers is not a static type that stays quiet forever, but rather we’re seeing more of the Kusakabe Yuka that we were introduced to in the beginning of this show. She’s learning to smile once more, as well as put her heart into things that she enjoys, such as taking care of the plants that she’s growing ever more attached to. This point of the show is becoming a major reason to look forward to each week’s episode–while the comedy continues to improve, we are witnessing the healing power of farm life and the effects it has on our former idol. I’ll be a happy camper when we finally get to see Ringo in an ever-cheerful state, where her smile comes more often than her sadness.
Before we get there though, the episode drops a major hint as to the final roadblocks to come in Ringo’s happiness. Apparently everyone becomes concerned as soon as Ringo shows indifference to getting suspended, though I myself do not particularly know why. Is it because she’s too lightly weighing the importance of becoming a farmer? Or maybe it’s because it hinted at Ringo’s temporary position in staying at Nourin High, where she doesn’t actually intend to go into agriculture? Or maybe they were surprised at Ringo’s sudden indifference to the craft, as part of an overall observation of her changing character? All shall soon be revealed as we hit the home stretch that is the last few episodes.
However, considering how weakly comedies of a plot-like nature have been falling flat on their finales as of recent times, I don’t want to get my hopes too high up. Though I respect Nourin as a good comedy, it is always a challenge to wrap up a series without completely closing off a second season and without coming off as a total cliffhanger or awkwardly ambiguous moment. Maybe things will change for this show, but at the very least I hope they end upon a positive note for Ringo’s future.