「真剣勝負ってメンタルの強さが一番の勝因なのかもしれない. / 信じるものの不確定さって… なんて不条理に呟いたりして.」 (Shinkenshoubutte Mental no Tsuyosa ga Ichiban no Shouin na no Kamoshirenai. / Shinjiru Mono no Fukakutei Satte… Nante Fujouri ni Tsubuyaitarishite.)
“Mental Strength Might Be the Biggest Reason One Wins a Serious Competition. / The Uncertainty of What One Believes In… Or So I Absurdly Mumble.”
The first half of the episode introduced us to Ayaka, Himeno’s fellow centaur/rival in yabisusame. Ayaka’s segment was enjoyable because of how cute the rivalry dynamic is between Ayaka and Himeno, where she secretly looks up to Himeno as her senpai despite being harsh and critical towards her. I would’ve liked to see more of the date that her and Himeno were going to go on since she did get blushy and flustered by Himeno’s proposal, but I would just look forward to any future episodes with Ayaka showing up.
This segment also explains how social gatherings and clubs are pivotal in centaur courtship, specifically with how many centaur couples meet through yabisusame. Himeno’s approach is compelling because she wanted to join only because she enjoys archery, but it is historically a way for centaur to find each other and find out their compatibility based on their skill level. It reflects on Himeno as a character since she often finds herself gravitating towards attention-seeking mediums for centaur like modeling and yabisusame, but for different reasons than what is normally expected of centaur involved in those fields.
By the halfway point, the tone shifts right away with topless mermaids everywhere. It appears that they only show up in tops around other species, but I find it interesting that mermen still resort to looking at erotic magazines and gawking at women in swim suits because the clothes arouses them. Where merman culture has spent so much time around topless women that mermen have to find a way to eroticize women covering their breasts up instead to get their imaginations jogging. They are showing it on TV, so most of that particular scene looked like it was directed by J.J. Abrams, but whether the Bluray reveals everything or cleverly censors them without the lens flare gore is up in the air.
Our exposure to mermaid culture goes beyond just their breast preferences though as mermaid singer Eri has to perform for her school festival’s ceremony to appease their god, Tagon. It shines a light on the faith practices of merperople, but also throws in a twist at the end with Antarctican snake people transplanting a fake fish person in place of Tagon who may or may not work for a government. I’m not sure where the show is headed with that, but I’d imagine those up to date with the manga have a clearer understanding of why the snake people brought in a fake fish person into a mermaid ceremony.
One funny moment was when Manami had an internal conflict between her disbelief in gods and her stint as a maiden when her friends asked about the existence of the universe’s gods. She wants to be honest, but then her mischievous side kicks in when she realizes that it’d be more beneficial to her image as a part-time maiden if she lead everyone to believe that she is on a deeper spiritual level with deities. It helps flesh her out by giving her a more humorous side to work with than solely being intelligent and practical. The episode did a good job at balancing out the show’s themes with the two segments, but it did leave me with some unresolved questions I’d hope are answered regarding the role that other species and goverments play in how each of the races practice organized religion.