「不器用な笑顔」 (Bukiyou na Egao)
For the next-to-last episode of Uramichi Oniisan, we get more development on Usahara’s end as he has to contend with the possibility of Uramichi leaving the show soon. But as he drunkenly waxes nostalgic with Kumatani, it actually gives us some much-needed information on how everyone had eventually come to meet as casual acquaintances who would go on to lead “Morning with Maman”.
It’s interesting to see the episode from Usahara’s point-of-view since we’re so used to seeing him as goofy, callous, and ignorant to the world around him that his introspective side comes off as unique and interesting. His interest in Track & Field placed him within the same sphere as Uramichi as two aspiring student-athletes back in college. But because Uramichi is so engrained in gymnastics as the school’s star player, it gives Usahara an incentive to want to find some common ground with him.
It’s a far cry from the usual annoying hijinks we’d get from Usahara to see his genuinely torn-up about being distant from Uramichi. You get the feeling that, had they not been worlds apart, personality-wise, they could’ve found more in common than living under the same dorm. At the same time, their twist-of-fate encounter in college made Usahara really look up to Uramichi on a deeper level. Even though he wasn’t as personally invested in running, he couldn’t help but feel bad about how much Uramichi had to truck through because of how much he invested into making gymnastics the one thing he’ll allow himself to excel at.
Similarly, this was an awesome episode for Kumatani as we got to learn more about his own personal life before he became a TV personality. It’s easy to see why he hit it off well with Uramichi because his aloof mindset made him empathize with his plight far more easily. Hearing about his strict upbringing also lends itself to the serious threats that many of the actors had faced back when they were growing up. With his angry abusive dad driving him into rebellion and delinquency, it was nice to see that his younger brother ended up giving him a reason to join school clubs and become more involved with others.
It was a nice episode that gave us a gist of why Usahara is broken-hearted about the news of Uramichi possibly leaving. Though we only had a few cameos from Iketeru and even fewer Utano cameos, it was cool to see how much they did and didn’t change between college and “Morning with Maman”. Even if the cliffhanger ends up being something like Uramichi quitting a gym or something trivial like that, it was still effective in making Usahara a more relatable character who isn’t all laughs and tactless blathering.