This was definitely the strongest episode of the first three of Denpa Onna for me. I still have some issues with the show, but there were promising signs. The more serious turn the show has been hinting at taking finally materialized, though it’s all relative I suppose – it remains very odd and squarely in the absurdist camp.
The ep was structured interestingly. The first half was basically a slice-of-life episode, with Makoto spending time with Ryuushi (mostly) and Maekawa. For him it was more than getting to know the town and racking up puberty points – he also used the girls as a sounding board for his thoughts about Erio and her condition. There was also a rather amusing interlude in his bedroom with Aunt Meme, who gave a very convincing portrayal of a woman trying to seduce her nephew. Even there a little seriousness crept in, though, as he confronted her about Erio’s birth and childhood, and she warned him to keep his distance from her (which Makoto, of course, ignores).
After the eyecatch things finally get to the point the first three eps were building up to. Makoto – convinced to his own satisfaction that Erio is merely deluding herself into thinking she’s an alien – decides to force the issue once and for all. His method is somewhat crude – ride the bicycle off the cliff “ET” style, with Erio in the basket, to prove to her she can’t fly. Of course there are obvious flaws with this method (“Scarier than steamed buns!”) but it seems to have the desired result – Erio confronting her reality – though at the cost of the bicycle and possibly a broken arm.
There’s no doubt that some of the success of the third episode rests on the shoulders of Irinu Miyu, as Makoto’s internal dialogues carry most of the weight of the episode. The writing is generally pretty sharp, though, with clever allusions to both The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and Index and a nice mix of oddball humor and genuine feeling. It’s hard to tell how straight this story is playing it even now – there’s still Meme’s odd comments about not remembering Erio’s birth and her odd behavior generally, and it’s hard to believe the “alien” angle is just going to be tossed aside completely. Is this going to become a school life series now, with Erio joining Ryuushi and Maekawa for classroom shenanigans? I rather doubt it will be that simple, though that doesn’t sound entirely like a bad prospect.