「シスター・コンプレックス」 (Shisutaa Konpurekkusu)
The gang’s all here now! With five for five, the entire cast is fully integrated, after some sad dramatic stories from each one. Machi is no exception as her struggle with her sister proved an emotional roadblock, but thankfully the show gets that over with quickly. Let’s dive in!
It has been a quick recovery for Naru, even though last episode left her practically paralyzed. However, to avoid interference with Machi’s exposition this episode, it was a good call to have a clean resolution of, “we knew all along,” from Tami and Yaya. In fact, one possible interpretation of this scene is being placed in this same sort of surprise as Naru–while it was expected from both us and Naru for this to become a major part of the episode, it was surprising that Yaya and Tami quickly and calmly understood what was going on. That’s true friendship right there, where your friends give you the confidence and support you didn’t even expect. It’s nice to know that there are few surprises that can really shake these two lifelong friends, especially since Naru seems to think no one can read her embarrassing faces. With that good feel in mind, the show proceeded cleanly into Machi’s situation, with club logistics making nightmares all over.
Moreso than the other four girls, Machi’s troubles are tightly connected to her sister’s actions. While Tami definitely had struggles with her dad’s wishes, Machi is in direct conflict with another active character in the show. This allowed us to see both sides of the problem in a better light; we saw why Machi tries so hard to achieve and who she models herself on, while for Sally-sensei, we see what exactly drove her to be the character that she is. That laid back attitude of Sally-sensei is a backlash against the tight expectations of a medically entrenched family, which unfortunately affected her relationship with Machi in an unexpected way. What perplexes me though is why it took until now for Sally-sensei and Machi to make up, if they really were looking out for one another. Perhaps the answer lies with Sally-sensei’s pride; we did get told how Sally-sensei withheld her exam results out of fear of being embarrassed of failure, so this may be the reasoning behind their long stalemate. But then again, doesn’t it seem awfully roundabout for Sally-sensei to choose Machi’s school as a path to apologize? Isn’t it weird that Machi was unable to see Sally-sensei’s troubles, especially as she’s facing those same troubles herself? The show hints that Machi knew the answer all along and was in simple denial, but I would’ve liked to have seen more concrete expansion of this to remove doubts. Overall, I’m actually pleased with the amount of development achieved this episode, as well as the cute faces Tami made in order to cheer the two up. Cuteness is something the show does consistently well.
Alas, there isn’t much time left for Hanayamata to really expand on these troubles, so the show did its best to expand on a fairly emotional topic in the span of 15 minutes. With 3 episodes dedicated to hot springs and more, what sorts of characterizations will happen now is beyond me. I’m still crossing my fingers on Hana getting some proper backstory, considering how this is the first episode where she explicitly mentions her parents. There are so many holes left to be filled in this final mystery, so Madhouse, do your stuff and don’t leave us hanging! We’ll get a hot springs episode and a final dance for sure, but please, come full circle and complete the mystery that you set off to frame in episode one!