Don’t get me wrong – I’ll take an episode like this any day over the sadistic crap that’s characterized most of this season. But I really wonder if it isn’t asking too much of the audience to play to such a low common denominator for seven weeks, then expect us to come along when you try to pitch a moving story about Minami’s transition back to Japan. Are we supposed to pretend those seven episodes never happened? And what are we to do with the information we were given this week? Is it supposed to paint Minami in a favorable light? More to the point, as far as I’m concerned, is this – if Yoshi was so kind to her and so important in making her feel better when she moved back, what kind of person does that make Minami for physically abusing and generally torturing him for the last year?
There’s one more question that’s even uglier than that one – what are we to think if we go right back to the basic pattern of Minami abusing Aki – and the girls generally being sadistic psychopaths – next week, or for the rest of the season? Are we then supposed to forget this episode ever happened? It’s always been a reality of Baka-Test that Akihisa was way, way too nice to have the shit happen to him that happened to him – but during the course of the first season the sadistic elements were under control, and there was a sense of the whole class banding together against a greater foe. This season has been an orgy of abysmal behavior on the part of all the girls, Minami included. I’m not sure if I can take this episode remotely seriously, in that light.
If this ep has been the season premiere, I’m sure I would have felt differently. It was good, in many ways – certainly Oonuma Shin at his SHAFT-iest (in a good way). Honestly, the direction could have come straight from the EF series, which Shin directed for SHAFT. I enjoyed the claustrophobic effect he was able to create around Minami during her first day at school, and the panic in her mind when she simply couldn’t keep up with Aki’s Japanese. I enjoyed the introductions of all the major characters, and I enjoyed how totally in character it was for Aki to screw up and try to talk to Minami in French when she couldn’t handle his Japanese. In a vacuum, it was a very well-done and enjoyable episode – but TV series, unlike most movies and many OVAs, don’t exist in a vacuum. They exist in the context of what came before and what will follow. And that’s why I have a real problem accepting this episode of Baka-Test at face value.
The big question for me now (this will be on your test) is will we see a new Minami, behaving like the girl in this episode might had she not gone bad? Or is she going to revert to the same character who did everything she could over the first seven episodes of this season? Frankly, baka or not, Akihisa is way too good for that Minami. In fact, all of the guys on this show are too good for all of the girls, based on those seven episodes. If that’s all a bad memory now and the reset button has been hit, I won’t say it’s well and good – I can’t just forget those two months – but it’s sure better than the alternative. If things just go back to the way they have been as if this ep never happened, I’ll be even more pissed off at B-T than I was before.