「転生すればワンチャンあると思った？」 (Tensei Sureba Wanchan Aru to Omotta?)
“I Thought Reincarnating Would Give Me My Big Chance?”
This is a funny, dysfunctional, heartfelt love story, but it’s also a funny, dysfunctional, and heartfelt friendship story, and that might be this series’ greatest strength.
A New Game
Before I get into the meat of this frankly awesome episode, am I the only one who expected them to only play LA? It was a nice (and unexpected) change to see them switch over to an FPS, and I mean, why not? Plus, the gag that Ako is actually really good at FPSs (as long as she imagines the enemies as riajuu) was another funny gag. I’d like to see more occasional jaunts into other genres, even if I’d be perfectly happy if they stay with LA most of the time.
Dispensing With The False Mystery
Unlike the mystery of Nekohime’s true identity, which could have been some old dude if the story had wanted to go in a different direction, Sette’s true identity was flamingly obvious from the start. Which is why I’m glad that they didn’t stretch it out, and instead dispensed with the subterfuge before half an episode had gone by. Sette is Nanako, check! Which was great, mostly for Akane’s immediate breakdown at the news. Poor Akane. This is why being an open otaku is best.
A Lovely Friendship Story
This episode highlighted, perhaps more than any of the ones before, that Netoge isn’t just a nerdy romance story. At its core it’s probably more of a friendship story, or at least that’s the foundation upon which the romance is able to flourish. Akane’s walk home with Hideki, replete with friendship flags, is the clearest indicator, and—okay, yes. Those could be romance flags if you want to take it that way. It really doesn’t feel like it though, at least to me (though maybe that’s just because I want to believe that men and women can be just friends, because they friggin’ can, even if popular culture likes to doubt that). But it’s not Ako’s love for Hideki, or his patience with her, that brings her back from closing herself in forever. Or once again, it’s not only that. The friendship of Schew-chan and Master are big bulletpoints in Hideki’s pitch to get Ako to continue interfacing with real life. The burgeoning romance is definitely there, but the friendship vibe is pread throughout.
Now We Know Where Ako Got It
Gentleladies and gentlemen, I present to you Ako’s mom. Ako’s mom explains a lot. Ako’s body, obviously, there’s no denying that. Then there’s that accepting and slightly airheaded way she gives Hideki the go ahead to, er—make his relationship with her daughter a done deal, shall we say. (Sex. I’m talking about sex.) They’re definitely different people, she seems more socially functional than her daughter, but she either really trusts her daughter’s choice in men or lacks a bit of common sense herself. Or both.
Understanding Ako, & Helping/Making Ako Choose
Full marks to Hideki on his plan. Ako could have easily stopped going to school without thinking the repercussions through, and ended up regretting it when she felt like she couldn’t see Akane, Kyou, and of course Hideki in real life anymore. The snowball effect could have been really bad for her. What’s important is that she understand the decision she’s making, and make it clearly—even if she does decide to quit school. And Hideki does it too.
I said the friendship between Ako and the others was a big reason why she came back to school, but it was undoubtedly Hideki’s understanding of Ako as a person that facilitated it all. He knew that the Nanako thing wasn’t the big issue—it was just a symptom of an issue that already existed. Ako has trouble with school, she’s bad with social situations, etc. Nanako teasing her about Hideki was just the last straw that made Ako say “Fuck it!” and hole herself up.
I’m not going to say I totally understand that. While younger Stilts sure enjoyed him some games, the idea of totally retreating from reality never even occurred to me. But I do know that she cares about Rusian, and Hideki too, and that when he said he would quit school with her, she realized her decision would effect more than just her, and she didn’t want that. It forced her to confront the issue square on, and Hideki’s understanding of and acceptance of Ako as she is meant that she wouldn’t have to do it all alone—he understood, and he would help her. All of which is a long winded way to stand on top of my desk, clap loudly, and salute both the original author and the animation studio staff for doing a good godsdamned job with some real character drama. Well done, you glorious bastard! Encore!
Looking Ahead – Facebook Official?
The bonus of the episode for me was when Ako got back to school, and Nanako came up to help her with the other girls in class. Of course, she mentioned that Ako has a boyfriend in her class—does that mean Ako and Hideki are official? I mean, of course they’re meant to be together, they’re adorable, but come on. I want to hear Hideki openly admit that his waifu is now his IRL girlfriend. Couples that start dating before the series ends are way too rare. GIVE ME THIS ONE DAMMIT!
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – It’s a tour de force of comedy, friendship, romance, ecchi, & heartfelt character drama. I give it 10,000 D’AAAWS #netoge 05
- “Team…Deathmatch…!” “Beautiful.” Please give me more Ako-version Hidaka Rina saying hilarious English phrases. Please. I need this in my life.
- Brutal indeed. Finally, an anime male lead most girls aren’t interested in, but they still treat him like a decent human being! He’s the hero we’ve badly needed for years now.
- Akane is willing to walk home with Hideki. She’s shedding her otaku-hating public persona, at least a bit. Or maybe Ako is an important enough friend to make her set it aside for now.
- Friendship shipping! Shipping all the friendships!
- Ako is an adorable mess. The plastic bottle thing was too much. Hilarious, though! And they even mentioned the taste thing, though c’mon, you’d know the taste of pee even if you don’t know the taste of that tea. Or at least you’d know the smell.
- “My boyfriend is just the best.” D’AAAAAAWWWW!
My first novel, Wage Slave Rebellion, is available now. (More info—now in paperback!) Sign up for my email list for a FREE sequel novella. Over at stephenwgee.com, the last four posts: Dying idols, Frictionless routines, Even if you see it coming, it can still work, and Batman does not kill. Superman does not kill.