「メディア展開さえ上手くいけばいい.」 (Media Tenkai sae Umaku Ikeba Ii.)
“Having Your Media Developments Go Well Is All You Need. “

If you’re a writer like Haruto, the answer is “everything”. From bland character designs, slow action, and shoddy animation to the cardinal sin of rushing through material, The Spirit Knight of the Distant Sea ended up being a generic LN adaptation that would only make it on an anime blogger’s “Worst of” list out of pity. It is the crappiness of the adaptation though that causes Haruto to unearth the slowly amassing insecurities he’s had up until now and bare his soul to his friends. “I wanted to watch the first episode live as it broadcasts,” were Haruto’s famous last words as the reactions of him and his friends a juxtaposed with a scroll of excited tweets from fans that slowly morphed into disappointment and mockery as the first episode progresses.

What was refreshing was that Haruto unpacked his feelings for everyone to be aware of this early. Usually, characters tend to bottle up their emotional state of mind until the characters are at their most drastic, but it was important for Haruto to get the thoughts he has off of his chest, and let his friends know how personally he takes it when he reads how generic or uninspired his work is. The episode delves into the mind of a writer who genuinely loves cliches and cheese that would otherwise get him accused of cherry-picking whatever popular, profitable tropes he can get his hands on. We’ve spent the past few episodes assuming that Haruto’s writing and social media activity are prime examples of him losing himself in the insincerity of his success, but sometimes, an author could just find solace in writing feel-good stories that might not bring anything new to the table, but is still comfort food that makes them and the reader happy. Sure, it doesn’t translate well into anime, especially under the wrong direction like with Haruto’s story, but the anger he has for people deriding his passion for inoffensive fiction as clinging onto generic LN’s for money is genuine, and is a testament to how willing Imouto sae is to let its characters wear their hearts on their sleeves, and be as open as possible to their friends about their anxieties.

Haruto’s breakdown was the highlight of the episode, but there were many moments this time around where the cast tapped into their deeper vulnerabilities. While introducing Cat & Chocolate lends itself to the show’s penchant for table-top games, the premise of the game allows the cast to open up their imaginative side as we learn how they apply their thought process and emotional state to the game’s concept of using three items from a set of cards to avoid disaster. Although Haruto’s cards give him the chance to take on the idea of hiding his bed hair in a creative manner with the distractions and items he would place on his head, Itsuki’s cards only remind him that he would have a different interpretation of calling the teacher “mother” since his mother passed away at an early age. Nayu’s traumatic experiences in high school cause her to channel her most negative thoughts as her plan to cover up broken windows would be to further destroy the school, window-by-window. The pain that resides in Itsuki and Nayu’s answers are laid bare despite their creativity, and it results in a sweet moment when Itsuki is the one person to approve of her scenario. Where despite their pervier sides, Itsuki still has the capacity to show Nayu props and affection for her line of thinking.

Miyako was rather interesting in this episode. Her status as the normal person in Itsuki’s friend group doesn’t disqualify her from empathizing with her friends’ struggles as she is the most heavily affected by Haruto’s woes. After he vents about his critics discrediting the effort he puts into his work, she starts sobbing and lets him know that even if she isn’t a writer, she knows how it feels to be in a situation where all of her hard work doesn’t work out. For Miyako, that can mean her worries about continuing college or the romantic emotions she has for Itsuki that have a small chance of being reciprocated. The latter is hinted further when she stumbles across a Cat & Chocolate card directly related to her issue with falling in love with the same person that Nayu does. I admire how the series is taking Miyako’s development and emotional state seriously since she is treated like a fully-actualized character in spite of her lack of interest in writing her own books. Her progress has little to do with the premise of “LN authors hanging out,” but they give her enough attention to place her on the same level of importance as the other characters, and don’t regulate her to a one-note side character who fades in the background.

However, if there’s one part of the episode I thought was completely unnecessary, it was Chihiro’s encounter with Setsuna on the streets. It was foreshadowed with the characters warning Chihiro about gropers in the streets and on other terms, leaving it at Setsuna being butt-obsessed would’ve been a fine way to end it. Having him actively take off Chihiro’s pants and wanting to get rid of the underwear was more creepy than anything. In light of the recent scandals in Hollywood with perverted celebrities, it definitely comes off like Setsuna would be in good company with those accused of being handsy with others against their will. The fact that he got far enough to think it’d be fine to rip off Chihiro’s briefs goes beyond just an author needing the ideal inspiration, and it confuses me why a sexual harassment gag sounded like a good idea to include in the story.

On a lighter note, it is the episode where Itsuki reaches a positive agreement on his LN’s manga adaptation, and seeing the illustrations of newcomer Kaiko Mikuniyama (Fujita Akane) makes him very optimistic about giving her the reigns to the manga. Particularly, they’re able to reach common ground on how amazing imouto’s are, with Kaiko’s favorite little sister being Fujita’s previous role as Sagiri in Eromanga-sensei. The picnic at the park was rather funny too with more hijinks from the Editor and Ashley enjoying sweet beer and premium sake. I’m curious about whether Kaiko will serve as competition for Nayu considering that she has a similar disposition as a fan of Itsuki’s work, except with less perverted thoughts and more siscon tendencies. It is Haruto’s failure though that has me interested in how deep the show will get with the rest of its characters, or if they’ll shine a spotlight on Haruto’s point-of-view next time.

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  1. And once again I’m amazed by the show’s ability to transition from lighthearted sexual assault played for laughs to soul-crushing crippling depression.

    But seriously that god damn latter part. Holy shit. This show is a fuckin’ rollercoaster — it handles emotional whiplash exceptionally well. I thought it was all fun times after Itsuki’s redemption last episode but then it just suddenly comes back up to hit you with a low blow the episode after immediately. I swear it just keeps getting better and better after every episode.

    Oh and it has to be said… time after time the way they use the ED song to bookmark emotional scenes is great.

    1. The switches in tone felt jarring around the beginning, but the Cat & Chocolate game was a good buffer in between the campy ecchi and the soul-crushing devastation that Haruto felt as the negative comments started rolling in.

      The show is really wise about where it places it’s OP and ED throughout the episodes. Last episodes was great in how the OP came about while Itsuki got his spark of inspiration. This time around, the ED segueing in as Haruto thinks about Miyako’s support was effective in the bittersweetness that came with focusing more on the future than the crappiness of the present.

  2. For me, the hardest part about Chihiro’s abuse on the street is that she can’t confide in the people she’s apparently closest to (from the viewers perspective) as they all think she’s male (as she apparently identifies as) and telling the story would possibly remove that for her. It’s like a double hit on the abuse.

    1. Yeah, there’s really no one to talk to or confide in when no one knows her on a personal enough level to give her a safe place to vent or tell someone about what she just experienced. She’s just supposed to shrug it off and pretend everything is fine when she was assaulted on the street. For all the goofiness that comes from the fanservicey moments, it was a misfire to paint Setsuna trying to take off Chihiro’s bottoms as anything other than a sign to report him to the police.

    2. For me the hardest part was reading comments like this. It’s anime, not a reflection of reality or SJW morals. For better or worse anime makes light of things that are morally incorrect.

    1. Wonder how many real life viewing parties were exactly like this? There are definitely first episodes that leave you horrified at the prospect of the original creator’s work being entirely butchered.

      Often, it’s anime-original elements part-way through that do even more of a disservice, but I’d be curious if they’ve had viewing parties episode-by-episode until they reach a certain point where it completely goes against the original or skips to infinity.

  3. Watching Haruto pay attention to everything on Twitter reminded me of the scene in Girlish Number when Chitose watched those comments about her online (One slightly more warranted than the other, but hey)

  4. It was very cringy when he took of Chihiro’s pants. We were waiting to find out when it was revealed that Chihiro is a girl but this made me very uncomfortable. It was also sad that he couldn’t sare or at least vent. I wonder why he is hiding that. In real life I would not be concerned but does it have something to do Itsuki, a previous experience, or just by identifying more as a guy. I am sure it won’t be a trans positive reason but more than likely something interesting from the past.

    1. It was really cringy. I wouldn’t be surprised if they gave Chihiro a superficial reason for hiding that from Itsuki, but the show has blindsided me before so they might give her something better to work with.

  5. I fucking love the imitator dude, he`s so horribly real it is painful to watch at times. But I`d make him even more of a chameleon, not breaking down even among friends and peers and going through the whole ordeal alone. But then we won`t be in comedy territory anymore.

    1. Imagine if they had him still pretend everything is fine after downing a large swig of beer, but instead of letting loose, he bottled it up and headed home right. The last scene before the credits would be him at his desk with his head slumped down as tears flow. That would’ve been bleak, but it would’ve been interesting to see if he took his image seriously enough that he couldn’t let his friends catch him upset.

  6. In Haruto’s case, it seems the comments are harsh, but fair.
    The more cruel scenario would be when your work is amazing, but it gets underrated and unfair comments, which is normal in an academic world. Submit a journal paper then get a reject just because only one of 4-5 reviewers just dislikes your work while the rest do like it.

    I like when Itsuki approved of Nayu’s scenario. tbh, in real life, when you say a similar thing to Nayu, most of time, you just get cold shoulder, feint ignorance, change of topic, or fake support. It is very heartwarming to see someone who feel your thought is wrong, but still stand by your side.
    Before this ep, I always felt that Itsuki’s treatments to Nayu was a bit unfair, and she should find another guy instead. However, this scene convinced me why they are perfect for each other.


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