「奇跡さえ起きればいい.」 (Kiseki sae Okireba Ii.)
“If Only a Miracle Would Happen.”
While it was hard to gauge from the first episode what tone the anime would stick with, Episode 2 is able to hit that sweet spot, and find a solid balance between saucy fanservice and a thoughtful examination into the minds of young adults as they cope with the burdening pain of the insecurities that follow them.
One thing that caught me off-guard is how well they’re fleshing out Miyako as a character. Initially, I figured since she was one of the only friends in Itsuki’s circle who isn’t a novelist, they were going to give her little to work with in relation to everyone else’s shared issue with meeting deadlines and cranking out a hit in a short span of time. However, they go the extra mile with Miyako this time around as we learn about how she met Itsuki, her feelings about college, and her emotions about his behavior.
The basis of Miyako and Itsuki’s friendship in college is an enigma in itself as Miyako is the only classmate of his who ever showed interest in the work he was typing up on his laptop, but any promise of a healthy friendship ends after that. Upon being confused by the premise of his siscon novels, he acts terrible to her, calling her a “slut” (he says “bicchi”, but that’s the doujinshi definition of “bitch”; between this and Shobitch, this season has been quite the educational experience for vulgar vocabulary lessons) for not getting the nuances of his fantasies. His behavior is absolutely horrible, and even Miyako doesn’t let that stand as she slaps him for acting like she’s a whore for not understanding his sister fetish.
Her friendship certainly isn’t helping Miyako handle her deeply conflicted feelings about the work she does in college. In addition to the awful first impression, she was able to cultivate some kind of friendship with him up until he gleefully called her about quitting college. Again, it continues to feed into her own harsh self-criticism of the work she’s doing by remaining in college while everyone is moving forward without her. It’s an interesting angle for the show to handle it’s “normal” character with depth and humanity to them because there is so much stacked against her for being “normal”. Her whole conflict is the fact that her normalcy fuels the insecurity she has over whether she’s really accomplishing anything when Itsuki sounds so happy about finding college to be pointless in his writing endeavors. If college is so pointless, then what has she been doing all this time? What has she been studying for?
But she makes up for her lack of confidence in her academic path by showing empathy and sympathy to those around her. She has the capacity to understand and respect the writer’s circle she’s become an honorary member of as she bonds with them. One of the most touching moments of the episode is where Miyako hugs Nayu after she tells her about the hellish treatment she received at school to lead her to finding inspiration in Itsuki’s writing. I got a little emotional when Miyako tearfully wished she could’ve been there to defend her from everything that her classmates put her through. It’s also telling about Miyako’s mindset for her to get upset about how students would pick apart someone for how they were perceived via Nayu’s personal backstory and Itsuki’s passionate typing. They make it no surprise that Miyako could relate to the alienation they probably felt through the drive they have to write, but in a way, it also provides her with the conflict of feeling unfulfilled in comparison to their hard work and dedication to getting their stories right.
Haruto also gets some intriguing moments in the episode as we look into his inner thoughts about the criticism he’s received over time, and find out that he’s the antithesis to Itsuki. He’s dedicated to popular trends, amassing a fan base, and pumping out crowd-pleasing best-sellers, but he’s hit much harder when critics pick apart his work for being generic and boring. Itsuki in particular lands on a sore spot for Haruto when he mentions not wanting his work to become mainstream if it means diluting his personality from his work. Haruto realizes especially when he reads a glowing review of Itsuki’s novel that, in spite of his lack of productivity, success, or drive, Itsuki is getting more glowing reviews from critics because he doesn’t compromise his personality like Haruto does. To pile on top of this, Haruto is also insecure about his little sister in that he finds that his little sister is hard to handle until Itsuki insults her. Although he’s quick to defend her, he eventually comes home to find her denigrating him for using his fake Twitter personality to attract a female audience to his male-centric light novels.
Episode 2 dives into the anime’s emotional center as we see the motivations and insecurities that weigh down on the cast. Miyako’s anxiety over whether she’s wasting her future by settling for just focusing on her college work and Haruto’s success being diminished by the masses of people who think his work is derivative are some of the more fascinating discoveries in the episode, but the other characters are given some nuance as well. Nayu’s backstory is implied to have enough baggage to make for a juicy future episode to focus on the pain and suffering she’s been able to move past, and we do get a look into her creative process where we get to a bulk of our fanservice for Episode 2. This time around, however, the fan service with Nayu wanting to explore Miyako’s breasts for science is more of a tasteful way of delivering the show’s ecchi than the trashier moments from the premiere.
Itsuki is about as insufferable as last time though. His attitude around Miyako was uncalled for in the flashback scenes, and projecting his anger from a negative Amazon review on her isn’t a good excuse for acting terribly towards her for not getting his work. He’s also not given much emotional depth this time around other than getting plastered and calling out Haruto for trying to get him involved in his Twitter persona’s popularity. He was funny at the beginning of the episode when he was trying to visualize how a little sister would come onto the main character by acting it out in the mirror. We’ll probably have more to work with next time around after we got the post-credits reveal that Chihiro isn’t a brother, but a sister. This should’ve been a bigger reveal, but one of these websites ruined it by publishing a synopsis that revealed her sex right away.
ED: 「どんな星空よりも, どんな思い出よりも」 (Donna Hoshizora Yori mo, Donna Omoide Yori mo) by Yuuki Aira