「煉獄の館」 (Rengoku no Yakata)
“The Mansion in Purgatory”
The resolution to Maki’s conflicting thoughts about acting reached a nice middle-ground in this episode, where she could admit that she likes having the chance to work on films, but is comfortable utilizing her talents in a more supportive manner. There may still be unresolved tension as to whether she wants to fully commit to acting, but her soul searching paid off well with Yoshino’s inspiration helping her reconnect with her younger self’s passion. She was able to get her groove back without compromising what she has at the moment, so it acts as a nice way of keeping her options open.
By being the stunt double for her old friend, Moe (kudos to her for being genuinely sweet to everyone as opposed to the popular “narcissistic primadonna” trope many actress anime girls fall under), it let her be a part of a movie bigger than The Oden Detective, yet also lets her express what she loved about acting. The tree she played in her class’ production of Snow White exemplifies this well. She’s in a supportive role, but it’s greatly appreciated since her loved ones give her the greatest spotlight. It seems that spotlight felt missing around the time she hesitated to eat the cicada, but it does reflect on how valued her contributions have been even if they weren’t as a high profile hot-shot. Additionally, it makes it feel less like acting is a choice against her will since she sees the good and bad of it, and only needed a spark to help her figure out why she used to like what she did. I’m glad that it wasn’t a resolution that 100% wrapped up her story, but gave her some leeway as to where she wants to take her journey from here.
The episode did take an unusual direction with Shiori though. As the first time that the cast lashed out at each other (aside from Sanae and Maki’s cat-and-dog synergy sometimes), it was interesting to see Shiori give Yoshino a savage burn by telling her she wouldn’t understand her feelings about the house because she abandoned her hometown. While Yoshino wasn’t aware of Shiori’s childhood significance of the home and came off aggressive with her about committing to the film crew’s deal, it was a very sudden insult that felt like it was rattling around in Shiori for a while. Like it was an elephant in the room she was waiting to address on the off-chance Yoshino critiqued her for lying about the house being unavailable to burn.
It also felt like nothing was resolved on Shiori’s end. Shiori just gave up and bottled herself up after apologizing, saying that she never really had a say in anything when she was asked why she didn’t speak up earlier about that house being off-limits. It gives off a sign that they’ll be more moments to come where Shiori keeps her thoughts to herself, and then gets upset when the cast doesn’t know any better. While it makes Shiori an understandable and complex character to have her be more than simply a bubbly helper that loves her hometown, it gives me vibes that her troubles won’t be as easily to resolve as the internal conflicts Sanae or Maki had. Her mood lightened up when she found out Yoshino filled in a request to give the homeowner a special thank you in the film’s credits, but the resolution doesn’t give Shiori any incentive to come clean about how she’s feeling when she’s upset, doesn’t address that she should’ve said something ahead of time instead of lie when the decision was set in stone, and only set her and Yoshino’s differences aside on the matter of the movie. I do like that the show is comfortable with giving the women conflict among themselves without it being too dramatic or heated. I just hope that the incident doesn’t cause Shiori to fall into a pattern of not being honest with everyone until she loses her cool.