「特異能力が使えない！」 (Tokui Nōryoku ga Tsukae nai! )
“I Can’t Use My Special Ability!”
Let’s get some minor quibbles out of the way:
- The Paroles are still too long.
- The fourth wall is too thin.
- After an entire lecture about the power of song, Koito-san goes the whole episode without singing.
The episode itself was the long-awaited Koito episode that finally drags her kicking and screaming into joining the rest of the main cast, as her name-is-in-the-OP status demands. She basically has an X-Men backstory in which one Minase Koito, girl who takes her sugar with milk, has superpowers that alienate her from her peers (even in a school with an actual club for the numerous superpowered) and family (only Mai seems to have escaped a fragmented family life so far, though it’ll probably turn out that way anyway once we learn of it), but eventually opens up to a band of true friends yada yada. In true shounen manga fashion, this involves coming together to fight a common enemy, in this case some Chimera thing. That shoots laserbeams, because why not? Symbolism, schymbolism.
So yeah, maybe there’s not much room for subtlety there, but when has that ever been a concern of Musaigen no Phantom World? This was, above all, a functional episode that aims to both introduce and develop in one stroke a character that we haven’t had much exposure to (and also, tries to make this kid suddenly relevant). There’s a lot to just get done, so maybe we should be forgiving when the story makes predictable turns or when the teacher starts narrating Koito’s very personal history without the concerned’s consent, because the focus is still largely exposition. Thinly disguised exposition, perhaps, but exposition no less. Or at least that’s how I see it; I’m assuming that Koito’s vengeance motive, estrangement with her family, and prickly social attitude will be used again at a later point. I can’t say this with any certainty, though, because Phantom World has shown a propensity for handwaving past a lot of plot without much ado. For example, in this very episode, surprisingly little conflict came out of Koito losing her power. Nobody wonders why Koito’s power was suppressed to the exclusion of any other effect, they’re all sure it’d just come back by itself, and in no time it does. Hadn’t Koito’s life so far been defined by her supernatural ability? Wouldn’t stripping her of it be a prime chance for further character insight? It seemed almost an obligatory kind of development, but the dangled bait hooked nothing. In the same vein, there was some mystery to Reina’s healing abilities from episode 02, if you recall, but nothing comes out of that either. ‘By the way, Reina, you can heal!’ ‘That’s right, I can!’. When did we transition from not knowing what she did to being perfectly comfortable with what she did? Offscreen apparently.
Maybe I’m looking for too much in Phantom World again. I know that’s old by now. Here, admire these unnecessarily detailed chickens instead.
There’s plot to be had elsewhere in Phantom World, I suppose. We’re once again reminded that our mysterious plot coupon still exists; they’re probably going to save it for redemption when the narrative arc starts to climax. And of course, there’s the evil bear. Has there been any indication that it’s evil? No. But if there’s one lesson to hold true to in life, it’s ‘don’t trust bears’. Especially if they grow monstrous at the command of a little girl (a lesson League of Legends players know well, I’m sure). Look, bears and little girls. They’re both no good. I learnt that the hard way. Don’t ask.