「取材でさえあればいい.」 (Shuzai de sae Areba Ii.)
“As Long as It’s Research.”
Within the last couple episodes, Itsuki has given me the impression that he was garbage, but from the third episode’s developments, this seems to be a sentiment shared by Itsuki. Given everything we’ve been shown of Itsuki’s ideas, most of his stories devolve into a nonsensical mishmash of his experiences. This comes out the worst through his vacation to Okinawa and Hokkaido as he ends up setting the gears in motion for stories about a love story between a shark and his little human sister, and a beachside blizzard that puts a mage’s little sister at risk. I’m unsure of whether we’re to identify or cheer for Itsuki since his attitude and imagination make him hard to root for, but it would be interesting to see if eventually, Itsuki has to face the causes of his insecurities considering that he at least acknowledges the flaws he has as his own worst enemy.
This episode also solidifies the notion that Itsuki has a tendency of surrounding himself with people who make him feel inadequate. As he continues to brush Nayu off after rejecting her, he still has lingering feelings for her that he can’t bring himself to approach just yet. On top of this, the episode ends with the idea that he is dissatisfied enough with the quality of his output to let go of his former illustrator Setsuna Ena out of fear that he’s wasting his talent on poorly written novels. Thinking back to the flashback where Itsuki seemed excited about getting asked out by Nayu, I’m wondering if his reason for rejecting her is because of the same insecurity he has about letting Setsuna do work for him in that he feels like he doesn’t deserve a relationship, and is waiting until he’s worthy of one. Or it could be because he’d have to let go of his imouto fascination if he outright pursued a relationship with someone who isn’t a little sister. A creative type might forego a relationship if they feel it hinders their creative process, so maybe he felt like he had to impose this on himself to keep the imouto in his heart alive.
Although the episode had its heavier moments with the introspection of Itsuki trying his hardest to push those closest to him away, it was still a light episode with pleasantly successful trips to Okinawa and Hokkaido. The Okinawa trip brought out some well-appreciated fanservice with Nayu enjoying an egg a little too much as well as Miyako letting herself have fun as she joins Nayu in the freezing winter ocean. The Okinawa trip also brought out the show’s explorative side as they discover landmarks across the island and enjoy A&W root beer and regional Hibiscus beer. Additionally, the Hokkaido trip gave us a chance to see how fun of a character Setsuna is as a fashionable, impulsive guy who went behind the editor’s back to continue getting the most out of his trip to Hokkaido to see the Sapporo Snow Festival. It also gave us some nice food shots with a look at all the crabs and salmon roe they partook in. Yukari Tanizaki would’ve been insanely jealous of how much Genghis Khan they must’ve had.
Despite the lighter side of the anime being a bulk of the focus this time around, it still gives us some good food for thought about how Itsuki sees himself in relation to the rest of his colleagues, and gives us insight of his creative process. Even though it explains why his editor is always breathing down his neck about his terrible ideas, it lends itself to the idea that Itsuki and Nayu delved into about the writer’s thought process about getting inspiration for their material from experience, and that going on a trip to other parts of Japan would help create that spark that gives the writer a chance to authentically capture the surroundings their characters interact with. It reminds me of how the creators of ARIA had gone to Venice to capture the world and architecture of Neo-Venezia as an accurate depiction of what a futuristic Venice would be like. Maybe they’ll have to go international to get the inspiration like that for the imouto light novel Itsuki was always meant to make.