「旅の恥は上書き」 (Tabi no Haji wa Uwagaki)
“The Shame of the Journey Overrides”
While a younger me may have at least worked up a disapproving frown at overt fan-pandering in anime, like the everybody-strip-because-it’s-summer episodes that are ever so prevalent, but these days I find myself hardly batting an eyelash. I’m not even all that cynical about them anymore. It’s scary what one can get used to. I suppose there’s really no great harm in episodes like this week’s, full of surf and sun and… titillation. The bottom line is whether the episode can provide some value, and ‘fun’ is valuable too.
And so, fun we have; even Angelina, ninja deputy teacher, gets in on the hijinks (but not without drug assistance) . Compared to the corporate intrigue and impending A-TEC shutdown that have loomed over us for the past weeks, this episode seems utterly removed from earthly troubles; in fact, they’re scarcely mentioned at all (enough so that we don’t forget about it, but not so much that we have to care about it right now). The cast just sings their own OP while pretending to be a hot-blooded mecha show (how many layers of meta is that?) without a care in the world . Evidently, we’re playing the ‘Clasroom’ much more strongly than the ‘Crisis’ this week, with a mashup of the classic beach and onsen episodes. It’s a page straight out of the comical Fullmetal Panic? Fumoffu. In a similar vein, water jetpacks and over-engineered bottle rockets aside, it’s sometimes hard to remember that we were supposed to be a gritty sci-fi series. Set on Mars. To think that they can terraform Mars to have beaches (even more decadent than Dubai’s refrigerated beach) but are still stuck with bulky computers instead of holographic haptic interfaces. It’s like how we’re in 2015 now and we still don’t have flying cars. I am thoroughly disappointed.
The greater purpose of a ‘fun’ episode like this one is obvious. Since we’ve already surmised that Nagisa is probably not going to be a final boss (and the more he manages to anger his vilified elder brother, the more likely that seems), he (and his majordomo, Angelina) needs to build a rapport with the rest of the cast. He seems to have embraced his pariah status, but we’re not going to have much of a show if he never gets any character development. And since A-TEC managed something resembling fiscal management last episodes, it’s only fitting that Nagisa loosens a bit in turn. That is, he needs to make friends and convert from his ‘bah, humbug’ ways. Well, he’s not going to be won over in a single episode, but there’s progress, at least. Even the guys intending to haze him still treated him like a bro, not a boss. For us, the viewers, getting to see Nagisa goof (i.e. be vulnerable) also goes a way to humanise a man who first introduced himself as the boss from hell. That’s character development too. So, all in all, although this has been a ‘fanservice episode’, it was hardly filler. Many important things got done. Isn’t that the best compromise? The plot moves, the bikini-quota is filled. Bread and circus. Everybody’s happy. Hopefully.
On some level Classroom Crisis is a mystery anime, and it is continuing to unfold episode by episode. We now know that Iris is apparently an amnesiac (which may explain why she’s imprinted onto Mizuki, yuri magnetism aside) and that she and Nagisa do have a shared history. Perhaps—and this is just a tentative guess—Iris and Nagisa were in some kind of accident together in their past, which would explain Nagisa’s scars—scars that, incidentally, Mizuki now also knows about. See, that onsen wasn’t just for fanservice! It’s also a plot device! I appreciate versatility in the sets.
Hopefully, Classroom Crisis has thoroughly gotten into its stride. Now that the mystery has been allowed to expand freely for a few episodes, now seems to be the time for our protagonists to be drawn into it. Obviously Nagisa is connected to the entire Kirishina conspiracy, but now Iris is connected to him, and perhaps Mizuki in turn. Eventually, I assume everything is going to be connected, and the moment the entire hand is opened—the payoff—is the most glorious of any mystery. Classroom Crisis may not be strict genre fiction, but that does seem to be what it’s working up towards. I’m looking forward to how it builds up from here.