「赤に沈む！三十六歳生誕祭！」 (Aka ni Shizumu! Sanjuuroku-sai Seitansai!)
“Drowning in Red! A 36th Birthday Celebration!”
When Akiba Maid Sensou celebrates a birthday, they’ll go about it the only way they know how; through sheer, unbridled violence. Yes, this fifth episode once again makes it abundantly clear that the girls of Ton Tokoton can’t just simply partake in ANY activity without unintentionally bumping heads with other maids.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE GROUND!
I can’t help but feel guilty for Nagomi in this episode. She spends so much time wanting to create a popular birthday event for Ranko only for it to be constantly shot down by her co-workers. Every effort to organize the event on the cheap is met with constant belittling as if it’s a useless endeavor that should have never been considered as an activity they could do.
By the time the girls make it clear that they were acting mean to throw off the scent of their own surprise cake, it matters very little because Nagomi stumbles into a trap that ultimately brought even more trouble to the girls as the Manager has to temporarily pretend to be Ranko for customers. Cutting corners with limited ink and a steady diet of boiled pumpkin stems and bean sprouts still managed to give them enough for a cake, so really, it felt like they owed Nagomi as much of a favor as Ranko.
Still, it was pretty funny to see how they pulled off the birthday event for Ranko. The whole ending where she had to compile a song for her event was hilarious because she still has a tricky time softening her hard-as-nails demeanor for a hopeful, wistful song of celebration.
It was also a special episode for giving Ranko and Nagomi more time to bond. We learn through their interactions about Ranko’s past as she was once a pacifist who hated the idea of using violence as a maid until the fateful event that made her spend about a decade in jail. The fact that she’d have her first normal birthday out of jail now that she’s 36 is significant in pushing the needle towards expressing Ranko’s more sentimental, kinder side. That deep down, she was looking forward to a birthday party that didn’t involve a stale prison doughnut.
WOLVES IN SHEEP’S CLOTHING
Before Maid Sheep comes up in this, I’d like to entertain the thought of being skeptical of Nerura’s intentions. Although suggesting a cafe event was a decent recommendation, it’s hard not to imagine that Nerura was aware that certain cafes were protective of their head maid’s birthdays when she suggested asking other cafes in the Creatureland Group to help them out with an upcoming birthday.
The assumption was that other cafes in the group would have each others’ backs, but Maid Sheep has no intention of working well with others if it means having their head maid Kaoruko share a birthday with someone else. They operate off the assumption that they’re all comrades, but once the cat’s out of the bag on Ranko’s birthday, Kaoruko joins in with her clients on passive-aggressively mocking Ranko’s age and Ton Tokoton’s lack of resources. By the time she traps Rank with Nagomi and a pet sheep in a vat of tomato juice, it’s hard not to see it all as a calculated trap to get Ton Tokoton in hot soup with another cafe.
To make matters worse, they make it clear that what transpired in Maid Sheep will follow Ton Tokoton into the future. Maid Sheep’s popularity makes it so that Kaoruko and the other sheep maids can easily shrug off betraying the Creatureland code, but once Ton Tokoton breaks in and murders them in retaliation, it reflects more poorly on Ton Tokoton for being a violent money pit. I think the expression the Manager makes after Zoya casually mentions wiping out Maid Sheep makes it clear that the higher-ups won’t be giving them the benefit of the doubt when they have to explain why Kaoruko and her fellow maids are dead.