「さっそく、しよっか？」 (Sassoku, shi yokka?)
“Wanna Hurry Up, and Do It?”
In the first place, let me just say that Sono Bisque Doll wa Koi wo Suru is very good at what it does. That said, I’m a bit more unsure about whether I like what it does than I was after the premiere. This definitely feels like a series where it’s going to take a while to sort through my reactions both instinctual and intellectual. Which is a bit of a problem when it’s only 12 episodes. And that also makes one question the choice in making eps like this one, which could hardly have been narrower in focus. But it’s far too early to worry about that.
I knew the fanservice was going to be pretty heavy with this show. The first episode had a bit, but boy – the volume on that was turned way up here. As I’ve noted ad nauseam I don’t have a problem with fanservice when it’s tasteful and plot-relevant. I guess when you have a protagonist who’s addicted to eroge and another making outfits to feed that addiction, it’s plot-relevant. Is it tasteful? In what’s already a subjective enterprise to begin with (anime criticism) that’s about as subjective as you can get. It’s artfully done, to be sure. But I think I could do with a little less of it than we got this week.
A bigger concern for me, frankly, is Marin. I said last week that she was the reason My Dress-Up Darling works as well as it does. To an extent I still think that, but boy – she pushed the envelope this time. I love the fact that she’s sincerely passionate about what she loves. And that she doesn’t care what people think of her. And I love the fact that Wakana responds to that, especially the part about escaping gender stereotypes. He’s hardly flawless himself, obviously, and he can certainly learn something from Marin. And that fact that he realizes that is a good sign for his character arc.
But that whole measuring scene, wow. I mean, it took up the entire episode for starters. And the entire episode was basically one joke – Wakana’s supreme embarrassment. The first thing I wonder is: what are we supposed to believe about this? Are we intended to disdain Wakana for reacting how he does? Because I’ll be honest, any normal kid his age is probably going to be in the same boat. I don’t mind being kept guessing about a writer’s perspective – it’s interesting to a point. But in extreme cases (like Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso) that perspective can be warped enough to be a deal-breaker. This is nothing like on that level but it is a cautionary note.
Ultimately this is most important for what it says about Marin as a character. And frankly she’s either unbelievably (choice of word intentional) clueless, or a bit of a mean-spirited tease. I find it hard to buy a 16-17 year-old girl who plays 18+ games being unaware of the impact her actions were having. She had to know – come on. All that “what’s the problem?” stuff seemed genuine at the time, but is anyone that obtuse? If she’s not, it was rather cruel of her to keep torturing Wakana like that. And keep. And keep…
Charitably, I want to believe it’s a matter of Marin being so enthusiastic about cosplay generally and Shizuku-tan specifically that she forgets what she knows when she really throws herself into it. She had one moment where she became embarrassed herself – when Wakana held the measuring tape up to her crotch – but never once did she seem to acknowledge his discomfort. She did at least thank him at school – which she damn well should since he’s doing her a pretty big favor, but some anime characters wouldn’t have. But seriously, she needed to pump the brakes a little bit there.
Whatever the case with Marin, I suppose the key factor is where the narrative takes the story from here. The measuring thing might not have been so off-putting if it had lasted five minutes or even half the episode, rather than the whole thing. But if Sono Bisque Doll wa Koi wo Suru is basically going to be 20 minutes of Wakana being humiliated for his innocence every week, that’s going to have a pretty short shelf-life as entertainment – even with some very artful fanservice in the mix. Based on the premiere I’d like to think there’s much more to it, and to this relationship. If there isn’t this series is basically a dime-a-dozen – and what I’ve seen so far has the potential to be much more than a dime-a-dozen.