“Question /Eyebrows/After School/Happy Birthday/Sneezing”
I have two coincidences to report about this episode:
Right before I started watching it I sneezed six times.
Today is my birthday.
The thing about Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san is that it confounds you. It does move forward rather than perpetually loop around on itself – the story is not set on “repeat”. Every time you think you have it sorted and you can dismiss it as repetitive, it surprises you. I’m pretty confident that if that weren’t the case I’d have dropped it a good while ago, because the main gag is pretty repetitive and if that’s all there was to this series, the shelf life would have expired pretty damn quickly.
As for “Question”, well, this one is pretty cut-and-dry if you ask me. The whole tickling thing really should be off-limits, because the playing field just isn’t level here. What remotely normal middle-school boy is going to be able to do that to a girl his age? My main curiosity here is whether this whole “Dandy” bit is based on an actual Japanese TV show (or genre) – if so, I’ve never seen it. It had a bit of a Sergio Leone look and feel to it – “yakisoba western”, maybe?
After a brief interlude about “Eyebrows” (I’ve never heard that about bushy-types, here or otherwise) we get “After School”. My favorite part of this is Yukari’s reaction when her kodomo-poi friends just don’t get the whole NishikaTakagi vibe. This is such a middle-school thing – sometimes one kid is on one side of the continental divide and their friend still on the other, and no amount of explanation can bridge the gap.
“Happy Birthday” is the sort of chapter that normally closes a Takagi-san episode, but here it acts as the setup for the conclusion. It’s very, very rare that we see Takagi-san actually take pity on Nishikata-kun. She’ll show affection for him, absolutely, but her immaturity and love of teasing just won’t allow her to take her foot off the gas most of the time. Birthdays only come once a year, though, and it’s nice to see that she can manage to ease up on the poor kid at least that often. Not only does she admit that he “won”, she lets him have his discretion about the embarrassing mom-cake, and gives him a present he actually wants to boot.
Finally we have “Sneezing”, which gives us a sort of survey course of the second-year romantic wheel of fortune. It’s a terrifying time to be alive, chuuni is, for this reason as much as any. It’s a cute way to close a cute episode, but my favorite part was when Nishikata-kun told Takagi “maybe they’re saying you tease people too much” after she sneezed. She was quick on the retort, yeah – but she couldn’t hide the fact that she was blushing when he said that. Maybe she’s human and not an alien, after all…