What stands out for me about this episode is what it says about the two main characters. First, just how strong Rin is – certainly more so than your normal 7 year-old, but whether unrealistically so is a matter of personal opinion – and just how thoroughly decent and clever Daikichi is. The intro actually trolled me into thinking the story might be about Dai-chan having one of those legendary anime colds (and mysteriously in some kind of psychic link with Masako, also ill) but it turned out it was just the heat in his case, and overwork in hers. Summer heat is a big topic in Japan this year for obvious reasons, so I won’t make light of it.
The situation at the graveyard was one that was fraught with potential ugliness. It does cast Masako more in the tragic than villainous mode, no doubt, and it’s reassuring to know that she still holds real feelings for Souichi. But when Daikichi realized she’d just visited the grave when he and Rin arrived, no one would have thought any less of him had he ignored the signs and let things be. After all, what would happen if Masako and Rin were to meet face to face now? But Daikichi being Daikichi, he simply couldn’t do that no matter how he might feel about Masako – so he ran after her and on the spot, devised the perfect solution – give Masako the chance to see Rin secretly. Her “blood ties are amazing” line was perhaps the key dialogue of the episode – not only did it reflect on her and Rin, but also on Daikichi and his Grandfather.
Masako is a fascinating case. She’s given up everything for her mangaka career, and appears to be driving herself to exhaustion to succeed. Yet she seems unhappy on every level, her only consolation being sweets (ominously, she’s still rail-thin) and her only friend her assistant – the red-haired young man who may or may not be her lover. She seems a tragic figure, this one, and bound for an unhappy end – perhaps the very qualities that led the kind-hearted Souichi to her. Daikichi has enough responsibilities in his life without being Masako’s protector, but I sense that he’s aware of her fragility and deeply troubled by it.
I was again struck, as mentioned, by just how strong Rin is. When they arrived at Grandpa’s house to find his bellflowers gone (Dai-chan’s Uncle is beginning to look like a douchebag in absentia) I fully expected her to shed at least a few tears. But no – she grasped onto the fact that some of the flowers had been saved at Daikichi’s house, and even managed a smile at the thought. This is an area where I could see some struggling with this series – is it really realistic for a girl Rin’s age to be as thoughtful, resourceful, smart and emotionally mature as Rin? I think the answer is yes, but it sure as Hell isn’t very common – and it makes me wonder if the series wouldn’t be better served to play up Rin’s vulnerability a little more often than it does.
As always, the postscripts for this series are a real pleasure. I loved the interplay between Daikichi and Kouki – “Daikichi, watch out for cars! I know! Carry me! Never mind!” Those two are quite the pair, and seeing the two of them together with Rin (and Yukari, for that matter) might be my favorite moments in the series. Speaking of Yukari, the image of her in a yukata was certainly enough to send Daikichi’s head spinning. Is that something we’re going to see developed, with only three eps remaining? Probably not much. But with the ratings and pre-orders looking good and all that manga material out there, this just may be the rare NoitaminA series that could get a second season.