I have to confess that this episode absolutely drove me crazy. That’s good in one way, because it takes a pretty good series to make me care enough to get pissed off. But it does raise a couple of red flags going forward. Basically, I still don’t like Kirino very much – that’s not new. The new part is that I totally didn’t buy the whole reconciliation sequence with Ayase.
First of all, her behavior in the confrontation sequence was not normal. The whole “I hate being lied to!” thing had the chilling whiff of stalker to it. It was more than a simple case of worry for her best friend – hell, at the time she had no idea of Kirino’s “dangerous” hobby. Once she did, her closed-minded and sanctimonious attitude really rubbed me the wrong way. Of course she’s entitled to her opinion about otaku and hentai, but no one ever got around to asking the question that should have been asked – what kind of best friend are you if you won’t accept your best friend for who they are? I’m sympathetic to the fact that these are 14 year-olds and not possessed of the judgment that a little experience can bring, but it really galled me to see Kirino bending over backwards to make up with her when the people she should have been apologizing to – her real friends Saori and Kuroneko – didn’t hear bo peep from her.
And then there’s Kirino. She calls her friends “disgusting”, kicks her brother in the nuts, and then expects him to be her “life coach” and bail her out yet again? She is who she is, and I don’t think it’s going to change – but I still can’t get past the way she treats her brother (and her crying fit about how he never tried to be close to her before doesn’t justify it either). Kyousuke brings some of this on himself, of course – he should really stand up for himself and not simply be content to be Kirino’s lap dog. He’s not doing her any favors by simply doing her bidding – if he wants to help her, he should tell her flat-out “If you want people to save your ass, you better learn to start treating them with a little respect”. But of course, Kyou is a kid too, despite his role as the “adult” of this series – maybe that’s asking too much of him.
For all that, I loved the episode and I still love the show. What will elevate it to legend status in my eyes is if we see real and believable growth from Kirino and to a lesser extent Kyou. His will probably come from some sort of romantic relationship – perhaps hinted at in the next ep, where Manami (childhood friend) is apparently a key player. Maybe through her idolatry he can learn some self-respect. As for Kirino it’s going to have to come from realizing who her real friends are – Kyousuke, Saori and Kuroneko. They’re the ones that can accept her for who she is and not expect her to change.