「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.