A bit of a silly epi this week. On the one hand, we have random shenanigans at Seika’s ‘Outdoor School’ where the second year boys
and girls promptly go nuts following a bit of spiritual training in the countryside. On the other hand, we get some much anticipated character development for the new bishie weirdo in town. And for the old weirdo. And for the object of his stalking, of course.
The epi begins with Seika’s second year students looking forward to spending a few days at the scenic ‘Outdoor School’. Until they get there. There, their enthusiasm is soon replaced by meditation, manual labour, cold showers, small portions and hunger. And not just for food. The boys soon snap and try and relieve their stress by going after the girls, but Misaki, Hinata and Usui beat them away. Meanwhile, Hinata swiftly comes to appreciate Usui as a superior specimen among the Seika males and then, after an interrupted sort-of-confession to Misaki, acknowledges ‘Takumi’ as his rival for the fair lady.
After things die down, Usui, who has been jealously sulking over Misaki’s attentiveness to the troublesome Hinata, corners Misaki and confronts her about their past, demanding to know if Hinata is ‘special’ in her eyes. Misaki is suitably flustered, but replies that they were childhood friends and that she can’t help looking out for Hinata, since he is still very troublesome, adding, though, that she also finds Usui extremely troublesome. Usui seems happier after her response, before he realises how tired he is from disciplining the other boys and fending off Hinata’s challenges, and he takes a moment to rest against Misaki. The epi ends with the three bakas discovering that Hinata has eaten all the remaining food and then looking wolfishly at the unsuspecting Yukimura, who is fast asleep.
Firstly, WTH kind of Outdoor School not only anticipates, but almost allows its male students to sexually assault its female students?! I’ve seen my fair share of crap teachers/ guardians, but this just takes the piss. Which, for a romantic comedy is probably the point. However, and you can accuse me of over-analysis and/ or lacking a SOH, but multiple threats of friggin gang rape isn’t the subject of comedy gold in my book. No matter how many uber bishies there are to diffuse and sanitise the situation. Nuff said about that.
Moving on, at least all this allowed for some character development for Hinata, which in turn allowed for some of the same for Misaki and Usui. Hinata was still as puppyish as he appeared last week, but, albeit slightly predictably, some alone-time with Misaki seemed to bring out his manly side. Or should that be confused side?
I suppose the joke here was that Hinata is just as much an innocent maiden as Misaki, however, he is clearly frustrated that Misaki treats him like a kid/ doesn’t (yet) see him as a young man, especially given that he seems to now see her as a young woman and (thinks?) he’s in love with her…
Okay, I probably am over-analysing things now, in that Hinata is primarily a clown-like figure who is more of a catalyst for the development of other characters and their relationships. However, seeing as he clearly ain’t going anywhere any time soon, it would be nice if he is developed a bit more in the coming episodes (for example, like Kanou has been developed), rather than leaving him as just a one-trick pony.
As a catalyst, though, Hinata’s character has certainly been precipitating a bit more development on the Usui x Misaki front. In a sadistic kinda way, it was refreshing to see so many annoyed faces from the usually unflappable Usui, who seemed genuinely worried by the end of the epi that Misaki might see Hinata as more dear to her than he ever could be in her eyes. However, before Misaki sort of assuages Usui’s fears on that account, he is clealry not going to roll over and give up his position as top-stalker-dog.
Troublesome. A word that’s been popping up a lot in the last few epis. Hinata is troublesome. So is Usui. Usui would find it troublesome to get serious about Misaki. And yet he is doing such troublesome things anyway to prevent her from paying so much attention to another guy. And sulking a hell of a lot when she’s not paying any attention to him.
You can’t have it both ways.
At least, that’s what I hope he realises soon, because he’s running out of epis in which to do so. (Unless they make a second season, of course. Though, I’m guessing that would be a long time coming, if they even made one that is, as the anime seems to have covered at least two thirds of the manga so far, I think, and it’s still on-going.)
Overall, it was a weaker epi than last week’s, as already discussed, especially with regards to the comedy. Certainly the ‘oomph’ of last week’s epi, with all its funky camera shots, transitions and the delightfully domino-ing humour vs. drama scenes that we had there were more watered down this week. Regarding the romance, well, there were a few decent kyaarific moments this time, notably when Usui tells Misaki that he’s been jealously sulking and during the scenes in the storehouse, but especially at the close of the epi, between Usui and Misaki as the rain subsides while they talk and rest beneath the trees. Speaking of which, it was also nice to see that sneaky (relieved?) smile of Usui’s over Misaki’s shoulder. Content Usui certainly makes a nice addition to the nonchalant/ deadpan/ pervy/ stare-y/ jealous/ annoyed/ pwnage repetoire. After all, if the strength of this show is its characters and the various quirky and not so quirky things they get up to as they develop and grow with each other, then hopefully the series will hold on to that vibe, even if (hopefully) it hikes up the emotional tension in the last four epis, as it draws towards the conclusion of the final arc.
[BTW: just to let you lovely people know, my summer hol is over and I’m back at work now, so apologies in advance for any erratic scheduling of future blog posts on my part.]