「おすすめの」 (Osusume no)
So, on top of finals ending (and the resulting burnout) + Fanime + moving + readjusting to summer school, I have a late post. Forgive me, but thankfully things should be returning back to normal. If not, I’ll be sure to call another writer for help. For those of you waiting on my Kagerou Days PV posts, you’ll have to wait until next week, since I’ll be mainly working on a FanimeCon post that’ll be truly comprehensive. I swear I haven’t been slacking off–I’ll show the results soon! Enough about (poor) excuses though! Let’s talk Kawaisou.
Episode 7 was a lull in the series. The first half of the episode was alright in terms of jokes and drawing–the oblivious nature of Ritsu combined with Usa’s size inferiority complex was a good combination. There was a bit of discomfort when the show hit on some issues of sexual harassment, but I give the show props for touching on an issue that I doubt many a comedy would dare approach. I suppose there’s some effect to be felt when your favorite characters get canon treatment of some gross sexual harassment! My main concern primarily lays with the second half–a segment severely weighed down by tons of cut corners in the animation as well as in the scriptwriting in general. Most of what happened in that half could’ve easily been compressed into episode 8, since in reality it was a simple introduction to Usa’s past. Most of the ten minutes just overall felt inefficient and only served to highlight how lazy certain parts of the drawing were getting. I can totally see where the director was going in this approach–highlight Usa’s tolerance levels in one episode and test them in the next–but that subtlety is mostly lost in the poor execution. The show does exaggerate its drawing styles for comedic effect, but now it’s crossing the line of ‘exaggerated style’ to ‘lazy simplifications’. That table scene could’ve panned out a lot better had the scene been given more visual action, but instead we got scenes that at best looked like poorly drawn super-deformed art. Though the show is still able to draw pan-shots of Usa and facial stills of Ritsu’s beautiful face, even those aren’t enough to save the visual downgrade.
Episode 8, on the other hand, did a much better job both in animation efforts as well as presenting a more interesting plot episode. Usa getting all the bad luck is getting a little tiresome, but the interactions between all the characters worked particularly well here. Hayashi’s situation brought us out of a black-and-white story into territory that’s significantly more subtler. Even though it’s cruel of her to leave Usa burning in the laughter of others, it makes complete sense considering where she came from and where she is now. Would many of us in that situation socially execute ourselves for Usa, especially if we’ve worked hard to transform our image away from our past selves? It is very meaningless to have friends who mock others like that, but finding acceptance from people you look up to is also meaningful in itself. It felt very real then to see Usa and Hayashi interact with one another. Usa’s patience and tolerance came not just from avoiding making a fuss, but also out of compassion for Hayashi, knowing exactly well why she was acting the way she did. Like Sayaka and Mayumi point out, Usa is too kind for his own well-being, but for him to stick to his morals in a humiliating situation like that is admirable and does not go unnoticed by Ritsu, who of course saves the day in a charming and adorable way. Usa saved her last episode, so now it’s time for her to return the favor!
While Kawaisou is going through its ups and downs like every other short-funded and flawed show out there, the experience is still a pleasant one overall. Though I’m not getting the same excited vibes I was getting from the first few episodes, it still is a treat to see Usa and Ritsu navigate through their awkward social moments while the older residents of Kawaisou guide them in their cruel yet caring ways.