「俺の強さ」 (Ore no tsuyo-sa)
Perhaps no anime episode of recent vintage has less required a blog post to be written about it.
I enjoyed this episode of Ore Monogatari!! of course – I’m not a cold-blooded terrorist or anything. But if I’m honest, I think it was the very definition of “one-note”. It’s a good note, don’t get me wrong, but I do tend to prefer this series when it has a little more variety in its arsenal. To again use the cooking analogy: while I love sweet things, their appeal tends to wane pretty quickly if the sweetness isn’t balanced out by some other flavors.
Coming off last week’s ep, which was the best of the series for me, this one didn’t have as much traction. The Ai plotline itself was certainly more interesting than the Judo Club one, but there was also a good deal of snap to the humor, even a bit of a dark edge. This storyline was straight-up Takeo being GAR and Rinko being cute. I like Takeo’s GAR side and Yamato is cute, but I think those things are pretty well established at this point (and you have to be seriously GAR in Japan to have sempai bow down to you like Takeo’s judo teammates did). I don’t think we learned anything new about anybody here – Takeo is a bro and a boss, Yamato is adorable, and they’re nuts for each other as only teens in the full blush of first love can be.
Perhaps the reason why Suna is seemingly always the most interesting character to me isn’t so much that he’s a great character (though he is) but the fact that there’s so little mystery to the two romantic leads. You could pretty much predict everything that was going to happen this week, but Suna hovering in the background with his tiny inscrutable smiles and impassive facades always brings that “just what drives this guy?” element. Is he truly content to be the boy on the periphery – to cheerlead for Rinko when she goes off full-bore on her soliloquies about how great Takeo is? Or does he harbor thoughts about being the main character in his own “Ore Monogatari”?
I can’t help but think that as good as Ore Monogatari is, that would actually be an even better show. Or perhaps if Suna were to develop feelings for Rinko – or heck, for Takeo – himself (sometimes the wingman does want to fly the plane, you know). I certainly don’t wish any serious misfortune on Takeo and Yamato’s relationship but that would be a nice dose of habanero to really cut through the sweetness and spice things up. I will say, though, that the flat-out bombast of Yamato’s infatuation with Takeo was pretty hilarious at times this week. It almost makes me wonder if Kawahra-sensei is slipping some flat-out shoujo parody into this relationship – heck, I’m pretty damn sure she is.
With the series slated to run for 24 episodes (and the manga ongoing) the key question for me is this – where does Ore Monogtari get its variety going forward, its impetus and momentum? It can’t be comprised solely (or even mostly) of eps like this one, yet it seems disinclined to go really dark. Will we indeed see Suna’s feelings muddy the waters of the main relationship somehow, or perhaps a shift in focus to Suna’s own romantic developments? Or will storm clouds brew between Takeo and Rinko once the flush of infatuation meets reality head-on? I almost feel guilty for wishing angst onto characters as likeable and decent as Takeo and Yamato, but the truth is I think Ore Monogatari pretty much needs to subject them to some if it’s going to continue to evolve.