「くんずほぐれつランデヴー」 (Kunzuhoguretsu Rendezvous)
“Scuffling Wildly Rendezvous “
Comic Girls is exceeding all expectations with the effort they put into characterization, story, and artwork for a comical slice-of-life. The focus on unpacking the challenges Rukki faces with her work and herself taken far more seriously as we understand from her perspective why it can be tough to gain recognition as an author of erotic manga.
From the start, Rukki had always been somewhat ashamed to have worked on the lewd manga she has perfected over the years. But her problems come to a head when she has to face two sets of challenges that further push her away from her comfort zone: needing assistance with her manga so that she can reach her deadline without suffering from anymore sleep deprivation and attending an autograph session her agency set up for her. The many times that Kaos and Koyume were shocked by Rukki’s material didn’t help her summon up the courage to ask for their help until they directly offered after seeing how her lack of sleep is affecting her daily life. Although they’re still taken aback by the explicit illustrations they have to work with, accepting their aid was one small step that Rukki had to make to get her to be prouder of her output, especially when Koyume had slowly become enamored by the plot she weaves into her erotic manga. It was interesting to see how Koyume’s involvement in shoujo did give her a better appreciation of the romance in Rukki’s manga considering that the only difference between Rukki’s work and Koyume’s is how much titillation they can get away with.
What gives Rukki the most trouble in this episode, however, is her first autograph session. Coming forward and revealing herself as “Big Boobies♥Himeko” is the source of much of her anxiety as she has to confront the first time she’s ever had to publicly appear as the mangaka of erotic material. If the panic attacks that Kaos has to battle involves the social anxiety of being seen as inferior with how many times her inexperience is ingrained in her work, Rukki’s social anxiety is from being viewed the wrong way because of the stigma that comes from her own material. She imagines multiple scenarios that end poorly on her behalf whenever she thinks of the autograph session as she sees herself being condemned for ruining people’s lives with her erotica, mocked for her name being the agency’s over-embellishment of her chest size, and labeled as a loose woman for making pornographic material.
The number of times it takes for Rukki to be somewhat comfortable with her lewd manga is an interesting aspect of the episode as there isn’t one clear-cut solution for diminishing one’s fears. It took so much for Rukki to look at her work with pride as the scenarios that plague her picked away at her self-esteem even when things seemed like they were getting better. Tsubasa’s personal experience with having to stay hidden as a female shounen mangaka had no influence on her encouragement to remember that the fans lining up for Rukki’s autograph would be as excited to meet her as she was to meet other mangaka when they were younger. But even with that relief and some time to unwind before her signing, she reaches that wall yet again when she’s trying to style her hair for the signing. The animation is amazing in this particular part as it does an effective job at showing the emotional range Rukki goes through as she finds herself in another bout between her enthusiasm to see her fans and the inadequacy she feels about the possibility of not meeting their standards of confidence for someone who draws erotic manga.
The confidence she gains by the time her autograph session begins is ultimately the end result of the makeover that Ririka gives her to help her feel mature enough to handle the signing with aplomb. By the time she’s able to face her fans with a smile and a wink, it’s extremely touching because of the long trip that Rukki had gone from the start of her manga career to the autograph session. As she looks back at the times she’s pushed through youth and tragedy to get to where she’s at now, it’s hard not to feel as tearful as Rukki does about how she can finally say that, in her reflection, she is proud of the work she’s done. That the effort she put into her work and the fans that she’s made so happy define her more as a person than the content of her manga or the genre she got lumped into.
Outside of the more serious aspects of the episode with Rukki’s development, it can still retain its lighter side with how Kaos is slowly finding her niche in the dorm. Despite facing a brunt of her anxieties and inadequacies in past episodes, she finally found her calling as her depth of experience with computers and illustrator software has caused the tables to turn. Rukki’s inexperience with computers has made the pupil the master as now it’s Kaos’ turn to teach those around her how to properly use a computer, install illustrator software, and use these programs to import and color in illustrations. A small instance in her further comfort with being in the dorm is within the montage during a stretch of time in which she uses Rukki’s laptop for playing visual novels, joining Rukki in scaring Koyume, lighting fireworks, and playing with the local fauna. The additional scenes of Rukki using Kaos as a plushie to help her sleep were also very funny and gave some levity to the episode. It gives us something to look forward to with Comic Girls as it seamlessly alternates between giving us cute and funny hijinks with our main cast and fleshing out their personalities further as we explore what makes them flawed, unique, and brilliant.